Pregnancy is full of advice – welcome advice, unsolicited advice, good advice, questionable advice. It’s also full of anticipation. The type of anticipation I’ve never experienced and I’m an anxious person! Time both flies and stands still and although you expect a baby, you don’t yet have a baby so you have a lot of time alone with your thoughts. While ruminating on worries and fears isn’t good for you at this time, it is a great time to get ready and research some of those things everyone whose ever been pregnant is telling you.
So you and google sit for many hours together building your skill-set for motherhood. With weeks to go you’ve got this! You’re ready for the explosion of love. You’re ready to be awake for the rest of your life. You’re ready to hold your little bundle and be everything she needs. You’re ready for the towering laundry and messier home.
But here’s the thing…
No. You. Aren’t.
The reality, the shocking reality is that nothing and I mean, NOTHING can prepare you for the impending shift in your head, your heart, your home – your life.
I was lucky enough to have an amazing, positive birth experience despite having to undergo a c-section for a scary reason. Whether your birth is memorable for being amazing, traumatic or just miraculous in general it is a life altering experience and I’m not sure the roller coaster of emotion connected to it can ever be written down and communicated effectively.
Oh, the love. Indescribable, earth shattering love. How something so little can reduce you to such mush is beyond my comprehension. You created perfection and the wave of awe is quite overwhelming. I would look at my baby with tears in my eyes for the first few weeks. I could not look at her without crying or wanting to. I’m sure hormones had something to do with that also…
We all know. We KNOW new parents (and seasoned parents) get no sleep. We’re so ready! Ha. Haaaaaaaa. Exhaustion is evil. Exhaustion makes you think horrible things, have a short temper and overall be the more gremlin version of your usual self. If sleep is for the weak then I’m waving my white flag. I AM WEAK. There is no shame in craving your sleep with a newborn. You cannot pour from an empty cup and with a newborn your cup is usually very empty. Except your coffee cup, that’s always full of the coffee you no longer get to finish!
For me, this was the biggest shock to the system even over the loss of all sleep. I was not prepared, not remotely and this came out of nowhere and threw my whole world upside down. I thought I had researched it to a tee. To this day I am struggling with it but determined to persevere. Nursing is exhausting, especially at the beginning. It drained the life and soul out of me and made me feel like a total failure. I am not ashamed to say that it has not been the wonderful ethereal experience I was led to believe it would be.
The Loss of Yourself
Let me be clear here. Missing who you were does not make you selfish. It makes you a human struggling with change. When a newborn hits your home like a tornado and pjs, no make-up and four day old topknots become your new look it can be very overwhelming. You start to feel like you exist only to sustain your child and clean. It is pure survival mode with little else to spare and it can make you very, very sad. Do not feel guilty for mourning the loss of your old life.
Savor every second because the time flies. Cliche or sad, terrifying reality? Both! I feel like I am outside my body looking at someone holding down a fast forward button while watching mine and baby’s life play out on screen. It will make you sad to see how quickly your baby grows up. It is of course wonderful to see them develop but equally scary to realize that these precious moments are so fleeting.
So my advice is to STOP preparing ‘to be ready’ for it all. Because you just never will. You can do the legwork for motherhood but it takes that baby in your arms to really activate your inner Mama Bear. That’s when the real learning begins. And it’s powerful.
Check out my post with some tips to cope with the newborn overwhelm.
What shocked you most about life with a newborn?