You are tired before the baby even arrives.
With my firstborn, I didn’t know what to expect and worked up until 10 days before my due date. My last day of work before maternity leave was a Friday. I remember leaving work feeling like I left all of my ducks in a row and I had a checklist of things I wanted to do in the next 10 days before baby arrives. That Friday evening at 7:30pm, my water broke and I was off to the hospital. I had no time to do my checklist, no time to get a few good nights of sleep and ended up giving birth on Sunday at 12:00am. I was in labor for a long time with no shut eye. I was already so behind on my sleep when the baby arrived and the sleep deprivation only got worse from there. I honestly thought the baby would just come on the due date or very close to it so I didn’t prepare way in advance.
I wish someone would have told me to prepare, prepare, prepare and just do nothing for the two weeks leading to my deliver date. I was go, go, go and was already exhausted when our son decided to arrive 10 days early.
The sooner you can be packed and ready, the better. You will be so tired no matter what after baby arrives, but at least you aren’t already starting in the negative like I did.
With my second pregnancy, I prepared in advance and took it easy leading up to my delivery. It also so happened that our daughter arrived 10 days early too, what a coincidence! This time I was prepared!
Breastfeeding is hard.
I have seen lots of women breastfeeding their babies and it always seemed so easy and peaceful. No one ever told me that the first few days and weeks (for some months) are hard and painful. I also didn’t know it takes a few days for your milk to come in, so your newborn may be hungry and fussier in those first few days (my son was screaming until my milk came in). I didn’t prepare anything with my first born because I didn’t know there are challenges that come with breastfeeding (some babies don’t latch, milk may not come in for days, supply may be low, mastitis exists, etc).
With my second I knew what to expect and had my breast pump already ordered, bottles ready as backup in case she didn’t latch well, nipple cream, breastfeeding bra and all of the breastfeeding essentials. I was the breastfeeding queen and it was so much easier and seamless.
If you plan on breastfeeding (which I recommend every mom at least tries their best because it is so good for your baby) then I highly recommend you do lots of research and get as much help from the lactation consultants at your hospital as you can. They helped me so much with my firstborn!
My son didn’t latch well so I ended up pumping for a year and my daughter latched really well, but she was constantly falling asleep during feedings so I ended up pumping for her as well to save time. I never really did breastfeed for long, but I pumped for a long time. I will do a post soon and share my breastfeeding and pumping essentials with you! It is so helpful to know what you will need!
Throw the checklist out the door.
After a few weeks of being home postpartum, I was feeling better and started making daily checklists (grocery shopping, make dinner, laundry, etc). I soon realized that sticking to my checklists was out of the question.
I have always been the type of person who makes checklists and tries to get through the entire list each day. Letting go of my checklist and going with the flow (or the babies flow, should I say) was really hard for me. I found myself feeling like I wasn’t accomplishing much of anything during the days, yet the days seemed to slip away just as soon as the mornings came.
With my first baby, it took me almost 6 months to finally let go. Once I let go and did only what I could do and accept that it was OK, I felt much better about my day and I was much happier. Now I tell moms with newborns to just take it day by day and don’t set expectations that are not realistic. You are tending to a newborn baby and that is the most important thing you can do postpartum. You are also taking care of yourself by taking it easy and not putting extra stress on top of your already sleep deprived body and mind.
Postpartum depression is real.
I’m not going to lie, I was always that judgmental non-mom who didn’t believe in postpartum depression. I always said things like “she just needs to get out of the house” or “she just needs to get over it, it’s all in her head.” Wrong. Dead wrong. Postpartum depression is real and some women experience it worse than others.
Thankfully mine wasn’t too bad and it kind of came in spurts. I would feel it really bad some days and other days I would be totally happy and fine. I also realized that the more tired I was, the more depressed I felt. If you have mild to light postpartum depression, I have found that spending time outdoors walking, getting extra sleep, and asking for companionship really helps. If I felt lonely, I went to visit a friend or had someone visit me. I spent a lot of time walking outside. Also, throwing out my checklist and removing unrealistic expectations of myself really helped as well.
If you have severe postpartum depression, you should talk to your care provider right away. Do not be ashamed, you are not alone. Almost every single mom experiences some level of postpartum depression.
Your body changes in more ways than you think.
Gaining weight during pregnancy was a given, but I thought I would just lose the baby weight right away and things would be just as they were before. Wrong again! Your body carries a baby for 9 months and gravity will really do a toll with the extra weight. Don’t expect to just bounce back over night. Your tummy will be less firm, the skin will be a little stretched, your boobs won’t be as perky after breastfeeding and so on. Do your best to get back in shape and be healthy, but let it go if there are things about your body that you can’t change.
Be thankful that as women, we get to experience the gift of life! This is a beautiful gift that far outweighs the changes it causes to our bodies!
Your marriage will be changed forever.
My husband and I did everything together before we became parents, and for the most part we still do but it isn’t the same. We can’t just get up and go whenever we want to. Our random sushi dates to our favorite sushi bar have turned into sushi takeout in front of the television after the kids go to bed. Date nights went from happening weekly to being scheduled around available babysitters. We are both a little more tired all the time and much busier with the kids around.
Some days when the kids are in bed and the day is done, we realize we didn’t even have a chance to talk about each others day. Thankfully, we realized right away that we wanted to make our marriage a priority so we worked on finding time for each other as often as possible.
When I say that your marriage will never be the same, I don’t mean this in a negative way at all. In fact, my husband and I have really learned the true meaning of team work, emotional and physical support, and simply just being there for each other more than ever. Raising little ones is hard work and when you and your partner work together, a special sort of harmony is created between the two of you.
Talking to your partner before baby arrives and having a plan to nurture and continue to grow your relationship postpartum will help a lot in the long run. Try to schedule babysitters in advance so that you can have time alone. Also, show a lot of grace to each other. Postpartum stress and lack of sleep is really hard on both the mom and the dad.
You may find yourself doing things you said you would never do.
I swore that I would never be that mom that turns the television on to distract my kids or gives them the i-Phone when I need a break. I also said I would never co-sleep but when I was getting in and out of bed all night to tend to my newborn, I soon found that putting him in bed next to me meant I didn’t have to get up again. With a c-section and being exhausted, I didn’t even care anymore.
Don’t over plan things. Like I said before, go with the flow and be ready to change things on the fly as needed. Don’t be hard on yourself when you do things that you “swore” you would never do. Instead, focus on doing what is best for you and your baby.
Time flies even faster. Enjoy the little things.
Time flies in general, but wait until you have a baby, or two, or three! The postpartum days became a blur and time continued to speed by as my babies grew.
Slow down and enjoy the little things like mornings in bed, bath time laughs and snuggles, middle of the night feedings, and even those moments when your baby is fussy and attached to your hip. Before you know it, they will be grown, want to sleep in their own bed and start asking for their independence.
My firstborn son is already going to be 4 years old this summer and my daughter is going to be 7 months in a few days. I survived the postpartum period and cannot believe how fast they flew by.
Sometimes I miss those first few weeks postpartum. Although giving birth and the weeks to follow are some of the hardest days of my life, they have also been some of the most rewarding and cherished moments. They are moments that I never want to forget and I am so thankful I slowed down enough to save them in my long term memory.