I became a mom for the first time almost two years ago and a mom of two this past January. Even with the resources out there, I still felt completely unprepared as a first time mom. No one could have prepared me for how tired and inadequate I would feel. And no one warned me about the darkness. Everyone talks about the “ahh” moment when you see your child after delivery, but all I felt was fear. I didn’t know how to hold her or calm her down. How was I going to do this? I wanted someone else to hold her, but the moment I became a mom that became my job. My job was to provide for her and take care of her. And I was scared.
During the first few weeks, the exhaustion compounds on top of everything else. When you don’t get enough sleep, everything is so much worse. They say sleep when the baby sleeps, but it is still broken up sleep. I felt like a zombie changing and feeding this new helpless creature. But trust me mamas, it gets better! It’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel those first few weeks, but it’s there. I was afraid I would be up every couple of hours for the rest of my life, but eventually I started getting full nights of sleep again (until my son was born this past January). As they can eat more and get more active, they will sleep more! Each day things improve, just hold on!
No one could prepare me for the inadequacy I would feel as a new mom. The hospital releases you after two-to-four days with the most important responsibility of your life. I didn’t know how to get her to sleep, how to satisfy her hunger, how to make a bottle, or how to interact with her. I began to wonder if I made a mistake.
My biggest feeling of failure came from feeding my baby. The current trend is breastfeeding and some people will make you feel like a failure if you don’t breastfeed. My daughter wasn’t good at breastfeeding and it caused me such anxiety that I was starting to have signs of post-partum depression. Everything in me wanted to stop breastfeeding, but I felt like a complete failure. “Breast is best” kept replaying in my head over and over again. Was my daughter going to have health problems if I didn’t breastfeed? Was she not going to be as smart? It was making me crazy. I would just sit and cry when I tried to breastfeed.
Finally, I decided my mental health was worth more. I wasn’t enjoying my baby as I should because I was so stressed out. At the end of the day, a fed baby is what matters. Once I stopped breastfeeding, I started to enjoy my sweet girl more. Now my daughter is almost two years old and if you put her next to a breastfed baby, I bet you would have no idea which was formula fed. I am proud of those that are able to breastfeed, but if you can’t, it’s okay, too. Repeat with me, “Fed is best!”
Trust YOUR Instincts
As a first time mom, you get so many opinions from family, friends, coworkers, and even strangers.
- “You should use this type of formula”
- “Breastfeeding is only hard at first, it gets easier”
- “You shouldn’t let her suck her thumb, she will never grow out of it”
- “You shouldn’t let her sleep in that, she will never sleep in her own room”
- And the list goes on and on….
But, at the end of the day, you have to trust YOUR instincts. Sure, listen to everyone’s opinion, but take it all in and make the decision that’s best for you and your family. As a first time mom, I second guessed myself and didn’t trust that I could make decisions. That also fueled my post-partum depression feelings. I wish I could say it clicked early on, but I think you just kind of grow into it. Unfortunately, we live in a society where we all judge each other on every parenting decision made. Soon enough YOU will be the person who knows this baby better than anyone else. You will know what he or she needs and what his or her reaction means.
No One Warned Me About the Darkness
In my doctor’s office, there is a sign that says, “The Number One Complication of Childbirth is Post-Partum Depression.” However, it’s still something people don’t like to talk about for fear of seeming weak or like a failure. But it is something that should be talked about because it is very real and can be very serious. Most people only want to share the happy highlight moments, not the raw, ugly reality.
Before becoming a mom I had heard about PPD, but thought of it more in terms of the serious cases. However, small thoughts of inadequacy and negative self-talk can quickly build and spiral into something serious if not kept in check. Most of my darkness came from breastfeeding struggles and being a new mom with no clue what I was doing. I remember calling my mom and asking her if I had made a mistake. Should I even have become a mother? I felt like I was failing my daughter at all aspects of her life.
Thankfully I was able to pull out of it without medical help, as my hormones started adjusting and I started figuring out how to meet my daughter’s needs. However, there is nothing wrong with seeking professional and medical help. Please seek out help if you need it because your baby needs you in their life. You were put on this Earth and given this specific child for a reason.
With my second child, I was more aware of how I would feel and when I began to feel hopeless, I would tell my husband. He would help reassure me that it would get better. It helped to have a reminder that it does get better. I try to tell as many people about my struggles in hopes that they can be aware and hopefully stray away from a dark path.
Being a mom is one of the hardest jobs in the world, but so rewarding. When I see my daughter smile at me as she tries something new, does something funny, or looks at me and says “hi mama,” my heart melts. She is amazing and I can’t wait to see what she becomes. I know there will be many trials with both my kids as they grow up. As certain things get easier, new challenges will develop. But God gave them to me specifically for a reason. He knew I was supposed to be their mom. When life gets hard, we all have to remember that.