There is a lot to expect as a new mom. But first……
I am typing this as I reminisce on the days I had only me to look after. I would jump out of bed, get ready for work without worrying about when I would eat breakfast.
Cooking was such a waste of time, meaning, eating out was not such a big deal. I would up and leave for road trips without giving notice to anyone. And don’t even get me started on the impulse buying I had. I bought what I wanted whenever.
And honestly, my life, before my son came, was mediocre at best.
I don’t think living for myself made me a better person. I was just too comfortable.
While pregnant, I was anxious that I would fail at parenting, so I tried to read every parenting book I laid my hands on and listened to every parenting podcast my friends recommended. None of it prepared me for what was coming right after leaving the hospital with my newborn. You too should know what to expect as a new mom, because it won’t be mentioned at your baby shower.
You may be changed differently once you become a mum, but what I am sharing with you here has been experienced by most new moms. So, here is what to expect:
You MAY not feel an immediate connection with your newborn baby
And don’t feel guilty. Once my baby was out, I wasn’t that awash with feelings for him. I still felt like me.
Sure my mouth was moving with ‘oh my Gods and wow I’m a mother’, but my feelings were just not there. I remember my sister-in-law asking ‘How are you feeling?’ only to burst out laughing when I blurted out ‘Empty!’. Maybe she was expecting poetry of emotion from me. All I felt was empty. Not just physically, considering I had a 3.5-kilo baby pulled out of me, but also emotionally, considering intensity in the labour room.
Many mothers feel this more than they let on, probably because they are afraid of the backlash.
It’s okay if you dread your baby waking up because you want some ‘me time’. With time, as you get to understand their cues, the connection comes.
I started connecting with my son when I noticed him imitating my tone of voice. That was 7 months thereabout.
I wouldn’t be shocked if a mother tells me she hasn’t connected with her child 10 years later. It’s normal.
As a new mom, you may expect your heart to burst with love at the sight of your newborn. If it happens, good for you. If it doesn’t, don’t be too hard on yourself.
Also read: Pros and cons of being a stay-at-home mom.
Breastfeeding may not come easy for you
It’s sweet of new moms to expect breastfeeding as simply putting a boob in their babies’ mouths.
Sis, breastfeeding, I came to learn, is an art and a science.
Breastfeeding is a multibillion dollar industry for a reason. If we are being honest, I was about to slip into a depression because I didn’t know how to breastfeed. I HATED breastfeeding the first time. I wanted to give up but my baby’s helplessness at the time made me suck it up.
Can you imagine? How can you not know how to breastfeed your own baby?
Related: Breastfeeding tips for new moms.
On the night I left the hospital, my baby slept through his feeding time. No one forewarned me about the drama my bosom would face. My left boob was the size of a huge dying pawpaw and the left, a small avocado. Boy! It was painful. I had to endure this pain until my baby woke up to feed. We tried to feed him but he just couldn’t latch. No one mentioned to me that engorged boobs make the nipple tight and flat, making it hard for a baby to latch.
No one told me that in the event of engorgement, I was supposed to pump milk for the sake of my own health.
I will tell you this for free: Get a lactation consultant. Oh and make sure you breastfeed your baby within an hour of delivery.
Oh you might want to buy lots of nipple cream, because you will need it.
You will be sleep deprived
After you are done reading this, shut everything down and sleep.
The first few weeks after taking your baby home will be particularly hard because of the number of times s/he will wake up to feed or get changed.
It will also be hard for you if your baby will be colicky, which is normal. Colic is an abdominal discomfort in babies and boy! It makes them fuss and cry. Some cry for as long as 8 hours. So you may find yourself soothing your baby throughout the night.
Don’t worry if you find yourself crying with the baby while at it.
I was lucky enough to not have a colicky baby, thanks to my mother-in-law who helped with the first 6 weeks.
Also read: Mom, I now get it.
As you breastfeed, remember whatever you eat affects the baby. I avoided gassy foods like beans and drank plenty of dill seed water, which I hated by the way.
Another tip that helped me sleep better was learning how to breastfeed with the side-lying position. Once I learnt this, I became happier and my baby blues reduced significantly. Or so I thought.
Wait. Please come back and comment on this post when your husband/partner, having slept the whole night, wakes up to tell you how tired he is. Oh he will say those words and you will want to ask sweet Jesus keep you near the cross.
You will still not sleep when the baby sleeps.
You are supposed to sleep when the baby sleeps. Everyone will tell you that and get frustrated when they find you scrolling down your Instagram feed when you are supposed to be sleeping. It’s one big post-partum paradox.
If you don’t have help, you will find yourself maybe cooking your next meal or expressing milk.
The funny part is, when you finally decide to sleep two hours later, the baby will wake up with a cry so screeching and entitled you may end up so irritable that no one will want to be around you.
Me not sleeping when the baby slept really frustrated my husband because he would be on the receiving end of all my crankiness. No one will understand except mothers who have been there so don’t feel bad when you’re getting judged for this.
Anxiety and sadness
During pregnancy, I was still prone to anxiety and melancholy, so you can imagine what I had to go through post-baby. I worried about so many things like, someone stealing my baby; my baby choking on his own vomit. Sometimes I would stay up worried about what would happen to my baby if I died.
Sadness after delivery came about when it dawned on me that my life would never be the same again. I mourned my previous life with premium tears.
The agonizing knot in my belly became part of me, but snapped out of it when I realized my baby would actually pick on the anxiety. It really hurt my husband to see me that sad.
Honestly, I have been managing this with The Word Of God. I pray whenever I worry. To improve my mental health, I work out and put myself first. How? By showering first thing in the morning, dressing well and wearing lipstick.
Related: Mom tips for styling a midi skirt
I also try to eat well to give my happy hormones a boost.
I won’t tell you to stop being anxious. I will tell you to know how to manage your anxiety. Speak life and abundance to your family. Happy mother, happy baby.
Your inner child will show up
If you have unresolved issues from your childhood, it will manifest in how you react to your baby (and husband).
As you take care of your baby, you will have flashbacks of your upbringing — the good and the bad of the parenting you got.
If you were on the good side of the childhood spectrum, then maybe it will be easier for you. But if you were on the bad, then try and baby the wounded child in you, because she will, in an ugly way, show up as you wash your baby who won’t stop crying.
Remember, the first 7 years of a child’s life can make or break them. You owe your child a good foundation. You are mistaken if you think a 4 months old baby will not understand when you lash out at them angrily. If you feel irritated by your baby, instead of shaking them angrily or throwing them to the bed, step out of the room for 15 minutes and breath. Things can escalate to ugly pretty fast if not careful.
You and your significant other will be strangers to each other
Don’t be shocked when you and your partner don’t have sex post baby. Men go through postpartum issues too.
Plus your partner may give you unsolicited advice when you are really trying your best to have it together. They do this oblivious of the fact. If not careful, you may say hurtful words to him or vice versa and things may escalate to ugly.
Few months after the baby comes, both of you will have disagreements. Maybe your man will come home from work and not find dinner; or you forgot to put laundry in the machine and he doesn’t have a shirt to wear to the office tomorrow; maybe he found your poo because you forgot to flash the loo since you didn’t want to wake the baby from nap.
All these things can trigger a fight between the two of you.
God forbid he calls you lazy. LAZY, yet you have been taking care of a helpless newborn the whole day or night. You will fight yes, but you will get past it eventually. Trust me.
In my heart I had resolved to never bring a baby into this broken world. I mean, have you seen in the news how children suffer? I thought, bringing a helpless baby to this world would be selfish of me.
Then I met my current husband and my narrative changed, but that’s a story for another day.
Upon discovering I was pregnant, my chin went higher and my back straightened. It was such an empowering moment. I remember walking out of my gyna’s office with an inexplicable sense of calm. I walked into a coffee shop just to marinate on the news, and while at it, all the petty baggage I had, all the unforgiveness that weighed me down, was lifted. I was renewed that day.
Tbh, my pregnancy was super smooth. I had extreme emotional meltdowns and felt temporarily incapacitated, but the support and love was there all the way into and out of the labour ward. My baby saved me. He changed my life. All unhealthy coping mechanisms I had pre-baby, OUT! All I want to be is the best version of myself just so I can raise him to be a good man.