Let's face it, being a new mom is HARD. Whether you are a first time mom, or adjusting to life keeping more than one tiny human alive, its never easy at first. Finding your new normal takes time, and patience, and lots of trial and error. One silver lining is knowing that all of us moms are on the same struggle bus! Having 2 tiny humans of my own, I know the struggle is real. Here are some common challenges new moms face with a little advice on how to make it out alive.
BREASTFEEDING IS NOT AS EASY AS EVERYONE SAYS
I had my first child 5 days before my husband was supposed to leave for Army basic training. I was living with my mom so that I would have some assistance, but that didn't mean things were going to run smoothly all the time. With the stress of my husband being gone plus living back at home, I decided right off the bat to formula feed our son so that I didn't possibly add the stress of struggling with breastfeeding as well. It was a good choice for our family at the time. Fast forward four years to the birth of our second son. I decided to breastfeed him since my husband was going to be home and we were officially a whole family all living together *insert struggle bus here* Breastfeeding did NOT come easy for us. In hindsight, I wonder if maybe he had a lip or tongue tie or if I truly did just struggle with low supply, either way those first 3 months were BRUTAL. My son was eating every hour to hour and a half, and he would eat for 30 minutes at a time creating this continuous loop of basically constant feedings, all day every day. I contemplated almost daily giving up and switching to formula because I knew how easy that route had been with my older son. Seeking out help from a lactation consultant probably would have been very beneficial for me, but stubborn as I am, I was determined to make it work on my own. Don't be like me. Seek guidance if you need it or think you are having issues that could be helped by someone who knows more about breastfeeding than you! That is literally the lactation consultant's job.
ALL THOSE PREGNANCY HORMONES DON'T JUST DISAPPEAR ONCE BABY IS HERE
You think you are hormonal now, just wait until after baby gets here! I can assure you that the random crying only gets worse. I remember after my second son was born, I was upgrading my phone and the tech guy wiped my old phone before checking to make sure all of my images from the past 2 months of my brand new baby were on the new phone. Y'all. I wanted to kill this man. But instead I just broke down crying, right there in the middle of Best Buy. If by chance, your feeling so low that you are worried you will hurt yourself or your baby, please let someone you trust and/or your doctor know. Postpartum depression is real and nothing to be ashamed of. It is more common than you might think, and getting help will benefit you AND baby.
WHOEVER SAID MATERNAL INSTINCTS COME AS SOON AS BABY IS BORN LIED
So you have this new tiny creature who kind of looks like you and solely depends on you for survival. People have told you that once baby arrives, your maternal instincts will just kick in right away and you will know exactly what to do. Lies. Name ONE thing in your life that you just automatically knew how or what to do as soon as you got it. I'll wait.... The answer is NOTHING! Any new thing in your life takes time to learn how to use it properly. Whether you read the directions or just wing it until you figure it out, its all the same. Babies are no different! And since babies unfortunately don't come with an instruction manual, we are all just wingin' it at first! Even asking other moms won't totally help because all babies are different. Even with siblings, the routine I eventually got into with my first born was most definitely not be the same routine we got into for my second born. Hell, we had NO routine for my second born because that kid walks to his own beat, but that's a different story for another time. Did I make mistakes? Of course! Lots of them. But that's why I had baby number 2, because we worked out most of the kinks with the first one.
EXHAUSTED IS AN UNDERSTATEMENT
Near the end of your pregnancy, it will get harder and harder to find comfort while sleeping which may result in losing sleep and returning to that constantly tired feeling you had during your first trimester. This is nothing compared to the exhaustion and sleep deprivation that comes after baby is born. Combine this with also having to keep an older tiny human alive and you might as well just give up on sleep altogether. Everyone says "sleep when they sleep", and I am here to say that that is easier said than done. My advice, instead, is to sleep whenever you can, which isn't always when they are sleeping. Play Disney princesses with your older kids, and you be Aurora or Snow White during their sleeping phase of the story. Invite someone that you trust over to keep an eye on baby while you go take a 2 hour nap. I used to nap while my older one was at preschool because it was a 3 hour window where I knew baby would be safe if he happened to wake up and I was still sleeping because big brother wasn't there to "help". Whatever you have to do to catch up on sleep, even if that means skipping putting the dishes away, then so be it. Chores can wait. Your mental health can not.
THE ENDLESS LOOP OF "EAT, SLEEP, POOP" IS NOT CONDUCIVE TO LIFE OUTSIDE THE HOME
Those first few weeks of finding your new normal are often the hardest. Your life seems to be on repeat with no end in site. I resorted to just staying home because that seemed so much easier than getting everyone ready, gathering literally all the things, and then right before we head out the door, baby decided to have a massive blowout and I have to start all over. It never seemed to fail. So home it was. Which I didn't mind at first. But it does start to become very lonely and isolating after a while. The shine of a new baby has worn off on everyone else by this point and so they have all moved on to other shiny things in their life. If you are starting to feel like you are in this rut of a cycle, first things first shower because, let's be honest, its probably been a while since you've had one. Once you feel clean and refreshed, set a plan for a small trip. Plan everything out so that nothing seems too overwhelming on the day you pick for this adventure. Even if its just a quick trip to the grocery store. Your main goal is to talk to people! Human interaction is an inherent need we all have. Yes, even the introverts. I will warn you, though: the first person you come into contact with you may end up word vomiting all over them because the only person you have talked to for the last however many days is this tiny human who can't respond yet and its just so good to talk to someone who can talk back and doesn't just poop or spit up on you all the time! Once you successfully find that new normal I've been talking about, outings will become a breeze! And you can finally join that new mom group that has play dates all the time and get some good solid human interaction on a regular basis!
Whether you are a first time mom, or a seasoned pro, those first few weeks with a new baby are tough. We've all been there, so you are most definitely not alone! The most important thing to remember is that while the days seem long, the weeks and months go fast! And as with any phase in your life, this too shall pass. These new baby days will be over before you know it! And you will get to wear your survival badge with honor!