Hooray! I’ve been a mom for 3 months AND I SURVIVED! Barely. Kidding!
It goes without saying that the first 3 months of parenthood are like baby bootcamp. You go from being anxious about your new arrival to suddenly being responsible for a precious, dependent, and helpless little human. And oh yeah, you also happen to care about and love this little human more than you’ve EVER cared about or loved anything in your entire life. No pressure or anything.
So, when you’re preparing for baby, you read all the books, all the blogs, all the articles. You get heaps of advice at your baby shower and from your mother and mother-in-law. The room is ready, you have diapers, and a ton of cute outfits. READY! Right?! Almost. I still have a long way to go and lots more to learn about being a mom but here are some things I’ve learned in the first 3 months of parenthood that no one prepared me for (this is not a comprehensive list, obviously).
- “Mom-Shaming” is real. So I usually HATE cliche phrases like “mansplaining” or “mom-shaming.” However, I must say, mom-shaming is REAL and in full force as soon as you bring your baby home from the hospital (and potentially even starts while you are IN the hospital). Everyone has an opinion on what is best for baby and in case you didn’t already notice while you were pregnant, they love to share. But it’s different once your little one is born and in your arms. Why? Because you’re the one rocking to sleep, feeding at 3 AM, giving baths, giving comfort and love. You’re the one there during the quite of the night snuggling your little baby who is still trying so hard to adjust to life outside of the womb and just can’t seem to cope. In other words, you know your baby best (you really do). And yet, the neighbor who immediately hands your baby back to you once he lets out half of a whimper wants to coach you on sleep training? Um, ok. Don’t get me wrong…most unsolicited advice comes from a good place. And a lot of it is very helpful and useful. But do not let anyone make you feel guilty for doing what is best of your baby. Not very long ago during a family lunch date, I took my son to a private place to nurse him and ran into another mom (who I do not know) who lectured me because I wouldn’t breastfeed him in the middle of the cafe. Look, I understand where she is coming from. I support public breastfeeding. One day, I may do it. But for now, I don’t. And that’s fine! And my son is getting love, comfort, and nutrition from me, so I think we’re ok. (More on breastfeeding and mom-shaming in a later post). People LOVE labels. They love to label themselves as “the type of” parents who adhere to certain childrearing philosophies and lecture everyone under the sun about it (check out the “lactivism” hashtag on Instagram if you don’t believe me) because it says more about THEM and what kind of people they want to portray themselves as than it does about their concern for your children. Don’t let people like that make you feel bad for taking care of your kids and yourself.
- Speaking of breastfeeding….it’s really hard! Well, for some of us. For some people, it’s really easy and that’s great. When I initially got pregnant, I imagined myself sitting in a rocking chair, nursing my little one while singing a soothing lullaby, hair cascading down my shoulders, and a cheerful beam of sunlight pouring into the room. NOPE. No one prepared me for those first weeks and how hard they could be. Everyone expects breastfeeding to come naturally to them and their baby, but it just doesn’t for everyone. And that is ok. Your baby might have a hard time latching. You might find that breastfeeding hurts. You might have a difficult time producing milk at first. You may not be able to do it (for various reasons). You may just not enjoy it and feel like something is wrong with you. Well know what? There’s nothing wrong with you. It’s normal. It’s hard for some of us. And some women can’t do it. And some women choose not to. And that is ok. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty about this. (More on this later).
- Your life changes…and you completely change, too. This was big for me. Being a parent is hard. You will mourn your life before baby at times. And everyone tells you your life totally changes so I won’t go there. What I will say is that you will change too. Some things you used to care about will no longer be important to you. Your goals and priorities will suddenly change when you hold that little bundle in your arms and see those tiny eyes blink as they adjust to the bright lights in the hospital. You look at the world completely differently; problems and issues in the world aren’t just concerning on an ethical level- your baby has to live here now. Your sweet little baby will have to grow up on this planet. So what used to make you sad now breaks your heart and gives you more urgency to fix it than ever. It’s the most amazing transformation you’ll ever undergo.