When you get pregnant, whether it’s planned or not, there are certain things you know to expect. For example, you know you might have to deal with morning sickness, all day (and night) trips to the bathroom, and even the possibility of pregnancy related medical issues like preeclampsia and diabetes. And you’re ok with all of it because you know that it will all be worth it once your precious baby is in your arms. Then the big day finally arrives! Your baby is on the way! Whether that day goes perfectly according to plan, or whether you’re forced to adapt to last minute changes, it is a time of extreme emotions ranging from excitement to fear to stress and finally relief. Nothing can compare to that incredible moment when you finally get to hold your baby in your arms for the first time. I don’t care if it’s your first or your fifth child, at that moment all time seems to stand still.
For first time mums especially though, the moment you look down for the first time at your precious, and totally helpless baby can bring a tidal wave of mixed emotions that you were not prepared for. Suddenly you are responsible for this tiny helpless being who is completely dependent on you for everything. You start to wonder if you’re ready for this. I mean is anybody really ready for what comes next?
You’ve heard the horror stories of nonstop colicky cries, and a few months of sleepless nights.
You’ve taken the classes on child CPR; you’ve practiced bathing and diapering a doll.
You think you’ve got this and you might be right
Until you’re home with your new baby that first night.
After months of reading articles and books, suddenly your mind is wiped clean. You can’t remember if you should change the diaper before you feed them or after. You start researching everything from cradle cap to baby gas. Google now automatically opens with “Is it normal…” in the search bar. You find yourself asking family and friends questions you swore you’d never have to ask because you realize you really have no idea what you’re doing. And that’s when it hits you. This is not at all how you expected things to be.
That’s because everything you knew about life gets flipped upside down when you have a baby. While your mind struggles to wrap itself around caring for this little human being, you often forget to take care of your own wellbeing too. When you’re up all night nursing your newborn, loneliness tends to creep up on you unexpectedly. You try to steal away a few moments for yourself because you just feel so overwhelmed and end up crying alone in the bathroom. You don’t tell anyone how you’re struggling with feelings of guilt and regret because you fear they will think you’re a bad mother. At your first post partum check up, the doctor asks you to fill out a check list to see if you might be suffering with Postpartum depression. But that questionnaire doesn’t give you any answers, only leads to more anxiety and frustration. You learn from online blogs and forums about post partum anxiety and realize you’re not overreacting after all. Then family members and friends open up about their own struggles with parenting and suddenly you don’t feel so alone.
As the days go on, you start to understand your babies cries and cues and even manage to get a few hours of sleep, though not uninterrupted. The days become months, and soon you’re watching your baby become their own little person. You marvel at every new discovery with them as if you were discovering it for the first time too. Yes, you are still exhausted and most days you are running hard on empty. You still have no idea what you’re doing. But every time your child smiles, or wraps their arms around you to give you big wet kisses, you know that it is all worth it. Being a mother is not easy. Your life will never ever be the same. And you’re ok with it because when you’re holding your precious baby in your arms, there is no where else you’d rather be.