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What Nobody Told me About new Motherhood

November 8, 2012

It’s been 7 weeks with my baby boy.

7 weeks of diapers, breastfeeding, washing an innumerable amount of laundry, and giving kisses and cuddles. It’s been 7 weeks of learning, of loving, and of being introduced and re-introduced to this new little person in our lives.

It has been an amazing 7 weeks.

It has been an exhausting 7 weeks.

It has been the hardest-best experience in my life.

I got lots of advice from friends and family members before giving birth to my son. I’ve sought out all the advice I can as I’ve encountered parenting challenges. I’ve been “that mom” on the phone with the pediatrician’s office 3 times a day, desperate for the peace of mind that my son’s red-faced grunting during feedings is nothing to panic about.

For all the advice I’ve received (and God love those of you who have showered me with your good wisdom), there is still so much I don’t know. I know nothing about being a mother, and I know nothing about raising a son. I’m gradually figuring out little bits and pieces along the way, and perhaps they are worth sharing. The following are things I wish I’d known about new motherhood:

  1. The walls will cave in – not the walls might cave in or could cave in. No, no – new moms – the walls will definitely, inevitably, one day, cave in around you. It does not mean you are depressed. It does not mean you’re not handling motherhood well. It just means our homes are very small. It means there is only so many interesting things you can do while you are stuck on a couch, nursing a 2 week old infant for the 16th time that day. It just means there will be a day where you would give anything, anything at all for that baby nurse to walk through your front door and give you a breather. It means you will have a day (or several) where you pick up the phone and call your mom, friend, or sister and audibly proclaim you’re having a hard time. It means you might have that glass of wine sooner than you thought you would.
  2. Breastfeeding isn’t magical at first – everyone told me what an incredible experience breastfeeding is. There is a bond like no other – only you can provide this for your child – you will start to look forward to each nursing experience – breastfeeding is such a wonderful time to pause and relax with your child. Well, thank you for the nice thoughts, but I could have used a stronger dose of reality. Breastfeeding is a commitment. A real commitment. And, quite honestly, it feels like a royal pain in the neck at first. You can barely sleep without being needed, your baby might only eat on one side, and you might start shooting out milk while trying on clothes in a dressing room. It takes time to appreciate this “bonding” experience with your child. And if the appreciation never comes, you are not a bad mother. You are only a realist, calling nursing what it actually is – a good sacrifice you make for your child.
  3. You’ll miss your teenager’s acne – no, really. That horrible acne you battled all through high school that you prayed every night would go away? Well, you’ll be praying it comes back because the postpartum acne many women get is in a league of its own. So stock up on the benzoyl peroxide because chances are the sleepless nights and shower-less days will wreak havoc on your skin. Just sayin’.
  4. Sometimes newborns have re-set buttons – more often than not, a little cat nap or full on sleep can completely reset my son’s system. You might be surprised at how quickly your child can turn around with a little bit of sleep. So have hope – the next day, or hour, could be a brand new start.
  5. You’ll never appreciate your partner more – perhaps I am just spoiled, but the myths of dads being absent or “hands-off” with newborns is completely debunked in my house. My husband hangs out with our son at 3am when his eyes refuse to droop, makes me laugh when I am on the verge of tears, and knows exactly when to refill my wine glass when I’m close to losing my sanity. The knowledge of needing a helpmate has never been more pronounced, so thank the good Lord for the partner I have. May God rain blessings on all the single parents out there because I would be lost without my husband.
  6. There’s nothing a hot shower can’t cure – when you think you’re at a breaking point, take a hot shower. Stand under the warmth as long as you can and enjoy being in an un-interruptable space for a little while. I promise you will have new strength when you step out.
  7. Mandy Moore made one good movie – there is one redeemable and memorable moment in the movie Because I said So. In a fit of maternal passion and bad acting, Diane Keaton tells her daughters that motherhood is “the most impossible love” and begs them to tell her when it ends and stops. Although the scene is ridiculous, the words ring true; motherhood really is an impossible kind of love.  I didn’t know I could look at a person and physically ache with gratitude, joy, appreciation, possessiveness, and the need to protect until I had my son. I didn’t know that each time I looked at him would be like seeing him for the first time all over again. I didn’t know that all the “I love you’s” and cheek kisses and snuggles would always be insufficient – I’d always want more. For all you new moms out there, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Loving my son is the most invigorating, rejuvenating, promising experience. I am a new person because of him.

There’s no good advice for navigating parenting. There’s no way to prepare and there’s no way to feel like you’re doing it “right.” This business of raising up a human being is daunting and painful and wonderfully beautiful. It’s scary and exciting and can, at times, breed rare moments of newfound strength and confidence. I wish I knew more than I do, but then again, there’s something to be said about the journey, right? Right.

I’d like to invite all my mom friends, or soon-to-be mom friends, to add their tips in the comments below. If there is something you found out about motherhood that nobody told you – would you share with us? I’m grateful each day that I don’t go about this thing alone, so I welcome the wisdom of those much more equipped to be moms than I.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 8, 2012 10:03 pm

    Ah, the horrible-wonderful, exhilarating/exhausting bit. Yeah, that. It’s HUGE. And it’s real and the truest thing I ever tell anyone about parenting – it is the most horrible and the most wonderful thing you will ever do in your life. Period. Follow your gut, kiddo – and listen to that baby. He’ll show you how. (Megan Tietz’s book “Spirit-Led Parenting” is a good one, very real and encouraging).

  2. November 12, 2012 7:11 am

    Hi Lauren! I found your blog through another blog and have enjoyed reading your posts about motherhood! We had our son just a couple weeks after you guys and I’m feeling much of the same way as you :). I think the biggest piece of advice I received was just to take it one day at a time in these early weeks. It’s amazing how quickly it starts to add up to weeks, months, etc.! If you are ever looking for someone to hang out with/commiserate with/schedule playdates with, I’m looking to meet and get to know more new mums in the area. Would love to get together sometime 🙂

    Cara Hanson

  3. RebeccaV permalink
    November 28, 2012 1:02 pm

    Just found your blog – congrats on being Freshly Pressed! I distinctly remember the weeks surrounding the arrival of our first daughter and the feeling of “when does this ever get better?” I also remember various shades of bitterness towards other moms who didn’t warn me about reality. My little one is 20-months old right now and we have good days and bad days. It is a blessing – a ridiculously unbelievable one sometimes – but there should be some way to lovingly warn soon-to-be moms about reality (and that it is ok!) and this post is a great one for doing that! Good luck to you and your family!

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