What I Didn't Know Before Having a Baby.
Baby Advice that is actually useful!
When I was pregnant with Addie, we got a ton of advice… like a TON! We got advice on what kind of pregnancy books I should read, the type of delivery I should have, the type of car seat Addie should ride in, the type of bottles we should use. And do not get me started on the topic of breastfeeding and formula…
I was overwhelmed by the amount of information coming my way. It came from friends, families, and social media, it prepared me for some of the things…
I knew that Addie’s first poop would be black and sticky. I knew that postpartum bleeding could last 8+ weeks. I knew sex was off the table until my body started to heal. I knew postpartum depression could (and did) set in, even though I had read every article available in my Grad School Data Base on how to prevent it.
The one warning that felt the most intense was keep dating your spouse. Keep putting effort into your relationship. The warning, while covered with good intentions usually sounded like this, “Make sure you keep dating your spouse, because one day it will be just you two again.” Or something like this, “Remember you are stuck with your husband, kids leave.” Or this one “The divorce rate is higher with couples who have kids early on. Be careful.” (insert eye roll.)
Aaron and I knew we needed to make time, be intentional, yada yada yada… So we tried. On very tired nights, we would stay up late just to spend time together. We actually went out without Addie. We worked hard to get to a normal level of intimacy. We started to feel back to “normal” with sex and our dating life around Addie’s first birthday.
But what I wasn’t prepared for and what no one warned me about was the deep loss of self that set in. I became so engulfed with the obsession of being a good wife and mother, that I had completely neglected who I was. I felt like a milk machine 85% of the time, a maid 50% of the time, and exhausted 99.9999% of the time (For you math majors, I am sorry my percentages probably annoy you.)
What I mean is, I was spending so much time trying to keep up the imagine of a good wife, good mom, a clean house that I slowly allowed my unique attributes, my unique goals to fade. I lost the unique things that made me, me.
I found my self depressed over the fact that I no longer had fun activities to do. I found my self resentful over the fact that I couldn’t do what I wanted, when I wanted. I started craving the spontaneity that was in our marriage – pre-baby. I found my self desperate to find something, anything that was mine and mine alone.
As mom’s we can become so focused on keeping our tiny human alive that we forget that we matter too. I matter. My needs matter. My dreams matter. So, to the new mom, the tired mom, the mom to be, the mom sitting in her car reading this, the mom who feels like she has completely lost her self, know that you are not alone. Know that this is not where you have to be. Know that your dreams matter.
Realizing that I mattered did not instantly change the way I acted. In fact, it just made me feel guilty for not “fixing” the issue. I took a lot of time contemplating what it was that would help me truly understand that I mattered too.
1. Surround your self with NON-Judging Mom friends. – I say non-judging, because you need to have a safe space to be open and honest about how you are doing. I say Mom friends, because it is very very very beneficial to have people in your life going through the same stages as you. I met my non-judging mom friends through my local MOPs group. My table included women of so many backgrounds, with so many dreams and goals, that were different than mine. But do you know what we had in common? Toddlers. We all had a child who on some nights may not have been the easiest at bedtime. We all struggled with how to love our children and our hubby better, and we all struggled with the balance of loving them and loving ourselves. It felt so good to know that I was not alone. That I am not alone. That I will not be alone in this rollercoaster of parenthood.
2. Take a moment away to breathe. It is okay to take a moment away. Aaron and I have decided that my shower time is uninterrupted. During my shower time, Aaron handles any toddler crisis that may arise – he handles it. I get a minimum of 15 minutes to myself with no interruptions. I play music I like, I often read or throw on a face mask and I enjoy a moment alone. There are days when I just hang on long enough to make it to my alone time – let me tell you, that is okay! I have decided to try some morning time to myself as well. My goal is to wake up 30 minutes before anyone else – to start slow and calm.
3. Write down your dreams. It took me weeks… okay months… fine... a full year and a half to re-identify what my dreams were. It took trial and error. More money than I would care to admit and a lot of frustration to realize that some things that I loved pre-baby were no longer priorities. I didn’t love those things. I had to relearn who I was, relearn what I wanted. It is okay to be different, it is okay to change who you are after having a baby, but you still need to identify WHO you are.
Momma, it is perfectly okay to not have things figured out. It is okay to feel like you are drowning, that does not make you a bad mom. Remember that is okay to reach out for help and to lean on your tribe. You do NOT have to have it all together. I encourage you to start small. Take a moment for your self, do nothing other than think about you. What are some of your dreams? What are some of the things you want and hope to achieve? What makes you, you?