What I wish I knew about the first 2 months of baby
If you are pregnant with your first child, or plan to have children at some point, you may envision the first weeks with your newborn to be euphoric.
Hours staring into your baby’s eyes, time to nurture at home away from the stresses of the office, flowing around in a silk robe, taking shared naps with your baby etc.
At least, that’s what I was hoping for. The reality wasn’t quite so idyllic. In fact, the reality had me questioning why people have children.
Now that our daughter is almost 3 months old, life is much more manageable. I look back at those first few weeks in bewilderment and how other parents don’t share how challenging that time is.
It seems we’ve devised a pro-procreation amnesia to ensure we don’t discourage others and ourselves from bringing more children into this world.
The truth is, those first few weeks will have you questioning whether a) you did the right thing b) whether this will ever get better c) am I ruining this kid’s life because I’m not a worthy parent. The good news is, it gets better.
What I wasn’t prepared for:
- The pain doesn’t stop in the delivery room.
Pregnancy and delivery are known physical challenges but very few women talk about the few weeks after birth (perhaps due to selective amnesia). Whether you have a vaginal birth or a c section, expect to have serious pain and discomfort down there for at least 2 weeks. Doctors and nurses will recommend you to get “plenty of rest” to heal. Seriously? If there’s ever a time when you won’t get rest, this is it.
2. Breastfeeding is challenging.
Yes, breastfeeding imparts vital nutrients and infection fighting goodness to babies. Yes, it’s been done for thousands of years and is a wonder of mammalian evolution. Yes, it’s a beautiful bonding opportunity with your little jelly bean. No, it does not happen naturally. After 2 infections, cracked and bleeding nipples, many lactation consultations, and almost giving up, breastfeeding finally became more tolerable for me. I strongly urge any pregnant ladies out there to meet with a lactation consultant before birth so you have someone who can help you. You will need it.
3. You question your judgement on everything.
Back in the good ol’ days of yore, parents had family communities around them to ask questions and seek motherly guidance. Now, we have Google. But with better access to information, comes more questioning. Prepare to second-guess around the clock. From “is it normal for newborns to spit up after every meal?” to “what color should baby poop be?” or “are babies capable of hating their parents?”
4. A warm shower becomes one of the highlights of your day.
Ok, that sounds very sad. But after months of not being about to take hot showers (generally not advised during pregnancy), there is something wonderfully comforting about being alone for a few minutes, soothing birth aches and pains, and consoling your sleeplessness.
5. You’ll feel like the world is ending every day.
Do you consider yourself a strong and rational person? Someone who can see the forest through the trees and calmly approach any problem? Expect that approach to go out the window during this time and your hormones to play tricks on you. I became an irrational mess. Baby’s crying fit becomes the end of days. A two hour nap becomes cause for tears of joy and celebratory champagne.
6. You learn to survive on a few hours of sleep.
The human body is pretty amazing in its adaptability. 3–4 hours of rest becomes “a good night’s sleep”.
7. You realize how invaluable your partner is
Taking care of a baby that cannot communicate (aside from crying fits) can be incredibly frustrating and lonely at times. Having a partner-in-crime that you can confide in and take on the baby burden becomes invaluable. It will also prove a challenge to find any time for said partner (the little bean will monopolize it), so make sure you find ways to show this person how important they are.
8. Prepare to feel like you’ve lost your identity.
I personally believe this applies to both mothers and fathers, both those that worked full-time before birth and those that didn’t. A newborn turns your life upside down overnight. No matter how much mental preparation you did for this, you will feel like you’ve lost (and gained!) a great deal for the foreseeable future. The good news is, time heals the shock. I’ll know in around a couple of decades if the healing is ever complete.
9. You might not love your baby immediately.
Ok, this is the horrible confession parents are not supposed to say out loud. For some, the “love at first sight” is overwhelming. For me, I did not feel the love I currently feel for my daughter in week 1. After all, you’ve known this little person for a few days…why would you feel a deep connection to them? This admittance comes with an inevitable feeling of huge guilt. “Am I an evil inhuman cyborg incapable of emotion?!?” You must learn to not beat yourself up for being honest about how you feel, and give it time. After a few weeks and watching my baby start to interact with me and reach out to hold on tight to my arm, I was in love. Which brings me to…
10. You will melt seeing your baby smile for the first time.
It’s the best feeling in the world to look down and connect with this little person who is beginning to show you their personality and their love. And makes all the above absolutely worth it :).