Before I was a mom, I didn’t understand the scope, commitment, and amount of time it takes to care for a baby. Holy moly! I had a close friend who had her first child a few years ago and we would go out in public and spend time together, with her son in tow. Even though she was my close friend, there were things I still didn’t understand about what it means to be a mommy and how you can love your child so much and want to see them all the time. I was just in a different life stage!
Fast-forward to the first few weeks being home with my newly born son, Valen, and I could see why new mommies were so tired for like a month! The feedings, the crying, the sleepless nights, the stress, the hunger and thirst, dying for a chance to take a shower, longing for a nap to recharge… everything that was “normal” in life got flipped on its head and I was having a hard time adjusting to not being as productive as I would’ve liked. Not only that, but I was told to “rest” which meant “lay down or sit constantly” and so I was going a bit stir-crazy!
I really wanted a hot meal, someone to cook for me while I was home alone all day with the baby. At night, there would sometimes be hot meals but the thing I wanted most was for a friend to say, “Hey, can I bring you some food and keep you company?” to which I would’ve screamed, “YESSS!”. Not the kind of friend that needs “entertaining” but the kind of friend that enjoys just hanging out with you. That’s what I wanted, more than anything at that time!
The other thing I really wanted was a big, fat NAP! Some days I’d sleep when the baby did, but other days I’d think, “Now’s my chance to catch up on the dishes” and get to it. By the time I’d clean, organize, cook, etc the bub would be stirring from his nap and off I’d go into baby-busy mode. The first 2-3 weeks were a blur of tiredness, soreness, boredom, isolation, hunger, thirst, and a sense of being “the only one going through this”. I wish I had more of a support network- that my immediate and extended families would’ve been more helpful and thoughtful during that time. I wish they checked in with me more and offered to come by to give me a break, bring food, get some groceries for us, or just stopped by for a few hours to relieve me of the boredom and exhausting fatigue that all new parents come to know well. There were a few people who really helped us a lot and others that seemed too busy to even text or call. That was definitely a shocker!
Going anywhere was a big ordeal- all the things to pack and bring with for even a simple outing! Baby, car seat, diaper bag, stroller, bottles, formula or breast milk, spoons, baby food, bibs, pack n play (for extended visits), high chair (when 3-4 months old), etc. Long gone were the days where I just threw my purse in the front seat and I was off. Now it takes 30 minutes getting ready to be sure I have everything, make sure the bub is fed and changed, and that I know where I’m going on the errands and what I’m doing. The abridged version of this paragraph is: go visit the new parents at THEIR house, not in public, and bring some food (and a change of clothes!) haha!
Looking back, I wish I had more “me” time- where I could just relax and do whatever I wanted for even 30 minutes a day- something enjoyable that made me happy and that I liked. There was just no time for that.
Being a parent is so rewarding and amazing, but the “negatives” are hardly ever spoken of: postpartum depression, weight gain (from sitting around all day being exhausted after giving birth and breastfeeding all day!), anxiety, hyperawareness (especially when driving!), severe sleep loss, isolation, hunger and thirst, feeling alone, not having a support network, having friends or family who don’t understand how much work it is to take a baby somewhere, etc. If you know anyone who is a new parent, offer to come over for a few hours to see the new baby. But know that what you can do that will be the MOST help is food and holding the baby for them for a while. Or letting that tired mama sleep!