When I meet brand new first time moms I adore their snugly babies. We talk about how cute their brand new little human is, and then I ask “How’s motherhood?” The answer is always “It’s fantastic.”
The mother is typically joyful and bright eyed, eager to show off her cuteness and rave about how handsome he is.
Then I ask “How’s he sleeping?” Suddenly the new mother’s perky happiness flashes away and she answers “I haven’t slept through the night since he came home. I’m so tired. I want to start to get my body back, but with nursing I’m SO hungry all the time.” The struggles pour out as soon as you open the door.
There was a study done where people were asked what parenting was like. Researchers were lead to the conclusion that parenting is the most joyful period of life, but no fun.
With science behind us, we don’t need to pretend being a mom is awesome all the time. Being a mother of a newborn is really really hard. Perhaps the hardest phase of life you’ll ever have.
When you have a newborn baby your body has just gone through 9+ months of physical and emotional changes.
Expecting to feel 100% back to normal in just a few weeks is absolutely absurd.
Even if you were sleeping through the night, eating a meal plan that was created by a dietitian, and working out with a personal trainer; you still wouldn’t be feeling back to your usual self very quickly. Now throw in the emotional stress of keeping your baby alive, life gets hard. All while we ignore the fact that you are a different person now. Your identity as a mother could likely change every aspect of your daily life.
The new baby needs you all day long everyday. Even when you need to sleep, eat, and shower. The baby’s needs are louder than yours, so they seem to trump your needs.
We like to pretend postpartum is a magical romantic time of life.
You bring home a snugly cuddly baby, who loves you instantly. We see posters of families sitting on their freshly made bed, and everyone is looking at the camera smiling.
What’s more realistic is that your nipples are cracked, you still look 3 months pregnant, the bags under your eyes are turning into canyons from lack of sleep, your baby has no way to show them that they love you, and to top it all off you’re wearing an adult diaper.
It is without a doubt magical that you created life.
Your baby is something to be joyful about, but early motherhood is rarely much fun. When I ask you how it’s going, you can be honest with me. We can talk about all your feelings, and how real and okay they are. We can talk about solutions, or we can just talk about the challenges as they are. We can talk about the romantic side of postpartum, and the drippy, messy, emotional, ugly side of postpartum.