In the first few weeks of bringing my son home, I remember thinking to myself, “I wonder when you stop feeling sticky.” C has dealt with reflux from the beginning, so there’s been a fair amount of spit up in our house since October.
Spit up aside, there are tons of issues new moms face that make life as a new mom pretty hard! I was talking with a sweet friend the other day who ventured out of her house with her 12-week old baby. I asked her how she was, and she said, “I’m okay. I’m trying to be very honest. I’m not good. I’m just okay.” I told her that she and her baby were surviving, and that’s good enough.
It’s true, though. As a new mom, when people ask how you are, you want to respond with, “I’m awesome! I’m supermom. My baby is clean, my dinner is cooked, and I’m totally in control of my sanity.” But in reality, that’s just not how it goes for some of us.
The first few weeks with C were pretty difficult. I struggled with a little bit of pain from his birth, as well as some mild postpartum issues, though they didn’t seem so mild at the time! My mom took off several days of work to stay with me (Praise. God.). She was a labor and delivery nurse for a long time, so I was even more excited to have her there!
Though she and my husband swear differently (I mean, who would tell a new mom she was a crazy person), I was a hot mess. And not hot as in attractive. No, no…hot as in hormone-ranging, temperature-out-of-control, can’t find my keys in my hand crazy lady. I was totally overwhelmed with motherhood. And it didn’t help to see moms of three walking down the sidwalk with babies strapped to their chests, their two-year-old twins in a stroller, and their oh-so-perfect leashed Pomeranian walking calmly right beside. The worst offense? Makeup. They have the nerve to wear makeup. I couldn’t even find my makeup, much less remember how to apply it…or care to do so.
If I had attempted such a feat in my first few months of motherhood, neighbors would’ve found me in the clothes I slept in, crumpled on the sidewalk with my newborn incorrectly swaddled in my sling, holding two unattached leashes, while my Yorkie and Chihuahua scampered down the street reeking havoc.
We can’t do it all. We’re actually lucky to do any of it. Especially in those first few weeks (or months for some of us!), you have to focus on just the basics. What does my baby need to survive? In talking with some of my new-mom friends, I came up with a few survival tips for getting through the first few months.
- Focus on Feeding: Your baby needs food to survive. Your number one job as a mom is to provide that food, whether through breast milk or formula. It’s okay if your son or daughter doesn’t have a cute outfit on or you’re not totally able to decipher all his or her different cries. Your job is to feed your baby. The rest will come. (Haven’t decided on breast milk or formula? Click here if you wonder why I chose breast milk.)
- Get Going: It’s important to get enough sleep, but I found myself just lounging around. For hours. It’s great to rest, but don’t become a sulking, lazy person. I found it made my depression symptoms worse, making me feel more like a failure. Get up! Move around!
- Find Friends: Do you know someone who works from home? Or a stay-at-home mom? Or a neighbor who has Fridays off? Interact with people, namely adults. Don’t isolate yourself. Be open to discovering a new group of friends! The help-me-keep-my-sanity friend group.
- Allow Aid: You know those people who tell you, “If you need anything, feel free to call me.” Get the phone sister. Dial. Them. Up. I dealt with a lot of guilt when considering calling someone to help me clean up the house or fix dinner. I thought, What if they didn’t mean it? What if they were just being nice? I don’t want to impose. Impose. In fact, let them come over and hold the baby while you do something. At times I needed to do something productive. I wanted to clean something so I felt like I wasn’t wasting away.
- Leave your Location: This was probably the biggest one for me. Get out of your house! I remember people telling me that, and I thought, But then I have to get him dressed, and put him in his car seat, and put him in the car. I’m not even sure where my keys are. My keys! What if I lost the keys, and there’s an emergency? How will I get him to the hospital? Oh my gosh, I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHERE THE NEAREST HOSPITAL IS!?! Slight mental breakdown. It’s not that hard. Unless it’s freakishly cold outside, your baby can survive the five second walk to the car in his or her car seat in nothing but a diaper and blankets. If you’re worried, start the car a few minutes early to let it heat up. Put the baby in the car, and go. Just anywhere. Drive through your favorite coffee place. Chick-fil-a? Sonic? Just go someplace where you can clear your mind. Drive around for several minutes. Your baby may really like the motion in the car. Mine did! He slept in there quite nicely.
This is how I survived.
If you have special circumstances (post-partum problems or breastfeeding issues), get help! Call your local hospital and tell them what’s going on. They can direct you to people who can help. If you can’t afford help through the hospital, local churches often have counselors with discounted rates who can talk with you. For breastfeeding issues, try the La Leche League. They’re free and will fight for your breastfeeding relationship with your child.
One day at a time. It will get better.
What’s your new mom survival story? Do you have any other advice to add?