Becoming a mom

“What we usually hear is that motherhood is ‘the best thing that ever happened to me,’ or
‘I’ve never been so stressed out in my life.’ But for most of us, it’s usually somewhere in between.” –Veteran Mom

becoming a mom

“What we usually hear is that motherhood is ‘the best thing that ever happened to me,’ or
‘I’ve never been so stressed out in my life.’ But for most of us, it’s usually somewhere in between.” –Veteran Mom

 The Magnitude of Motherhood

The transformation a woman goes through when she becomes a mom might be the most incredible of all human experiences. No one is more committed to another human than a mother is to her child, and the courage, passion, and strength women bring to motherhood deserves the ultimate respect. But it’s easy to forget all this once the baby is born. 

So we’re getting real here to let you know that motherhood is naturally full of ups and downs. Your experience will be joyful and frustrating, beautiful and tough, exhausting and exhilarating, filled with love and growing pains but it’s still a good time—a great time!—to be a mom.

Motherhood Can Be Tough

 Especially for first-time moms.

It’s one thing to know intellectually that caring for an infant is exhausting, but it’s a whole different thing to physically experience it. And our fast-paced lives aren’t geared towards caring for a baby who cries, nurses, and poops 24-7, so life can suddenly feel overwhelming and chaotic (especially with unyielding hormones supercharging emotions).  

And new moms are always surprised by the intense range of feelings they experience: Over a twenty-four hour period, you can go from feeling motherhood is the best thing you’ve ever done to thinking you won’t make it through the day. And we often sugar coat things, because if we admit we don’t love every minute of motherhood people might think we don’t love our baby and who wants that? As moms, we can be our own worst critics…

So just know that motherhood is a journey with many paths—some easy and some hard.

“I don’t think people talk about the hard parts of mothering, especially those first few months.”     

–Veteran Mom

Amanda: Be Gentle with Yourself - Everything Changes (2:07)

“A lot of mothers want to paint the picture they had envisioned for themselves. I heard many times how they "loved every minute" of pregnancy or motherhood, and unless my experience was far different, I wasn’t loving every minute. I love my baby more than anything, but there were various parts of pregnancy that weren’t particularly lovable even though the end result certainly was.”

–Veteran Mom

“What we usually hear is that motherhood is ‘the best thing that ever happened to me,’ or ‘I’ve never been so stressed out in my life.’ But for most of us, it’s usually somewhere in between.”

–Veteran Mom

Real Life, New-Mom Truths…

  • Breastfeeding may be challenging—it might take you and your baby a while to get the swing of it.
  • Sleep deprivation can be brutal, and “sleep when the baby sleeps” isn’t always easy.
  • It’s not always a “love fest” right off the bat - baby bonding can take a while.
  • A crying baby can be grating on your nerves and hard to handle.
  • The workload is immense.
  • Your lifestyle may dramatically change.
  • Going back to work may be a tough transition, emotionally and physically.
woman plans for the future

Truth from Moms Who've Been There

A study commissioned by English brand Munchkin found that it takes a new mom four months and 23 days to get her “mommy legs.” 

Many New Moms:

  • Admit that those first few months after the birth passed by ‘in a bit of a blur’ because they were so worried about getting everything right.
  •  Say they wish they hadn’t worried as much as they did at the time.
  •   Were surprised at the amount of time it took for them to properly get the hang of being a mom.
  • Felt so worried at some point they told a friend or family member they didn’t think they were a good parent.
  •  Didn’t talk to anyone about their worries, because they didn’t want to be thought of as failing or struggling in their new role.

Ninette: Maintaining Your Relationship (2:39)

Yet throughout the daily challenges, you’ll suddenly find yourself learning the ropes. How will you know? You’ll start reaching “momma milestones.”

Milestones for Mommas

With all the challenges, it helps to know when you’re making headway, so here are some progress markers that show you’re growing more confident.

GETTING LATCHED
For brand new moms, learning to breastfeed a sleepy infant can be very frustrating, so the first time your baby “latches” on and starts feeding: YES! 

MAKING A NEW-MOM FRIEND
Maybe you’ve already made a new friend in your birth class or mommy group; having a fellow traveler on the journey to hang out with and share your ups and downs, is definitely progress.

Read More

REGULAR SHOWERS
Nothing says “There’s a new baby in the house!” like not showering for 3 to 4 days at a time. Even though you know it should be a priority and will up your mental outlook, sometimes it just won’t happen. Eventually, you’ll get back to daily showers and when you do, you’ll know you’ve passed another hurdle.

READ!  The Showering Struggle is Real!

SLEEPING FOR MORE THAN TWO HOURS (CONSISTENTLY)
For the first couple of months, sleep is definitely erratic, but as everybody finds their rhythm, your baby will doze right through his first feeding of the night. Then he’ll do it again. And again. And you’ll start feeling less like a zombie and more like a human: winning!

UNDERSTANDING YOUR BABY'S CUES
It takes time to get to know your baby, but soon you’ll recognize her cues for sleepy, hungry, over-stimulated, or just plain bored. 

LEAVING YOUR BABY FOR THE FIRST TIME:
Swinging hormones after childbirth can be a doozy and have you thinking you’re the only one who can properly care for your child. But babies have been surviving (quite happily!) with grandparents, friends, aunts, uncles—all kinds of caregivers—since the beginning of time and yours will too. It may not be easy leaving your baby for the first time, and it’s natural to worry, but exit the house anyway: it will do you all a world of good.

FIRST TIME OUT WITH YOUR BABY:
It’s hard to believe running an errand with your baby will feel like a big deal but it does...What if she cries? What if my milk leaks? What if the stroller won’t open? Having someone (spouse, sister, friend) with you that first time will take the edge off and give you a sense of security. Pack diapers, wipes, a blanket, a change of clothes, and food (that may be you!) and keep it short but sweet. Once you’ve got the first outing under your belt, the second one is easier and soon you’ll both love getting out of the house. 

FIRST DATE:
Don’t plan a long evening for this first one; just getting out of the house with your partner—minus baby—is a triumph. That first date you’ll be excited, nervous, watching the clock the whole time, and all you’ll talk about is the baby—everyone does. The second time out, you’ll know what to expect and how long you’re comfortable staying out.  

GETTING SOME OF YOUR PRE-BABY LIFE BACK
This one’s tough. We put so much guilt on ourselves that we hesitate to take time off from the baby, even when we know it’s important. Eventually, you’ll get back to doing things you enjoy—a regular gym time, working on a degree or hobby, or just time to yourself while Dad’s with the baby. 

SYNCING UP:
At some point, things will become more predictable and your baby will start taking routine naps, get hungry at regular times, and show a preference for certain activities. In other words, you’ll have found a rhythm together—welcome to your new normal! 

“I was working on my dissertation, but I didn’t do anything for about two to three months after the baby was born. Once I got comfortable and things got easier, it was doable. But at first, my brain wasn’t even there. I don’t know if I could have even written a paper.”   –Veteran Mom 

depression

Enough With All the Choices—Just Tell Me What to Do

Part of MommyLand is the endless (often conflicting) array of choices out there and thinking we have to make one perfect decision after the next or we’ll mess up our child—that’s a whole lotta pressure. 

You’ll hear us say it a lot (because veteran moms say it so often): cut yourself some slack. Seldom do the decisions we make have the huge, emotionally charged impact on our baby that we attach to them at the time: most of the time, decision #2 is just as good as decision #1. And second-time parents will tell you they learned from their first go-round to be more relaxed about things. They’re also better at ignoring the critics and letting go of lofty expectations, which makes for a much less stressed out mom, dad and baby. 

In parenting, there’s no one-decision-fits-all: When in doubt, trust your gut and don’t second-guess. You may not be a baby expert, but you ARE your baby’s expert. 

“Everyone has an opinion. Listen to the advice for what it is, but don’t be afraid to trust your instincts or do your own research to make an informed decision.”

–Veteran Mom

“I was so proud of all the books I read to get prepared. And it’s great to have some idea, but I thought the books probably knew better than me because they were written by experts. In retrospect, I should have given myself more credit.” 

-Veteran Mom

So What Can I Do to Prepare?

Being proactive makes a world of difference. You’ll have more success if you’ve got a (flexible) plan for when you hit a rough patch and, inevitably, you will. So follow wise Ben Franklin’s advice: “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” 

  • Wrap up potentially stressful projects before the baby’s arrival. 
  • Take a “babymoon” with your partner to get in some rest and quality time—no matter how brief.

  • Gather all the facts on maternity leave, returning to work, child-care, health/life insurance, etc.
  • No added pressure. Once the baby is born, only focus on settling in and adjusting to life with a newborn, no bathroom remodels or attempts to cook three-course meals. 

  • Prioritize self-care so you’re able to be the mother your baby deserves. Talk to your partner openly about your needs; he’ll appreciate your desire to be emotionally and physically healthy. 

  • Build a support system: Lean on family, friends, and community because you deserve all the help you can get.