The Sh*t No One Told Me About: Being a FTM/New Motherhood
Ten months of pregnancy ... and I swore that I had heard it all. "Sleep while you can, you won't sleep when the baby comes!" "Your life is about to change in ways you couldn't even imagine." "Being a mom is the hardest job that you'll never get paid for - but it's amazing!" "Breastfeed if you can!" "If you can't breastfeed - that's ok. My babe had formula and is fine!" "All babies do is eat, sleep, cry and poop." "You'll spend so much on diapers!" "Forget a sex life - you have a newborn." "You'll love your husband even more once that baby comes."
It truly seems that everyone has 100 words of unsolicited advice when you're pregnant. It's like your big belly reads: 'pleeeeease tell me how I don't know anything about what I'm about to go up against.' And really - I didn't have a clue what I was up against. LOL But the advice and 'warnings' got old.
In reality some of the advice and warnings were well-received and appreciated. But in all the words of wisdom bestowed upon my husband and me in the weeks leading up to Miss Pix's arrival ... there are a few things that no one warned me about that I wish they had. So, here I am ... warning you.
No advice, no books, no words of wisdom, no fear of God ... will prepare you for bringing that sweet, scary bundle of joy home with you. Yes, they're sweet, precious and perfect but as a first-time mom (FTM) I also thought that Pix was the scariest little thing ever. I found the fear REALLY hit me at night. Granted my husband had to travel fairly quickly after we brought Pix home from the hospital - but still. Had he been there every night I think I would have had similar fears. Nighttime was this dark, scary, exhausting and daunting unknown. Would she cry all night tonight? Would she suddenly develop colic and be inconsolable? Would she suffocate? Would I fall asleep nursing and suffocate her?! Would I hear her if she cried? What if she spits up and chokes on it?? Would I rip my incision open leaping out of bed too quickly? Would I rip my incision open trying to lift or move her in weird positions? I was so blessed to have my motherly figure, Lisa, stay with me for three weeks postpartum. And, she did get up with me a few times in the middle of the night. But I truly couldn't bear to wake her and disrupt her sleep. No sense in both of us not sleeping well. Even with her there I still feared going into the night - I think that was just my first time motherhood creeping in. Proving to me how green, completely unprepared and not confident in my abilities as a mother. I'm happy to report that this fear fades. It truly does. Pix is 10 weeks old and we both sleep very well. I hear every sound but I no longer go into the night in fear. If you're experiencing this right now... it will fade. Enjoy those precious newborn snuggles because they really do go away far too quickly.
C-Sections suck in terms of you're getting your gut totally sliced open ... but the healing process for me was a BREEZE. Not a single ounce of a lie in that either. I was so scared I would tear during delivery and that my HOOHA would never ever be the same. I also feared every part of the cesarean section but in all honesty - I had a wonderful and EASY recovery. I wish someone would have told me that a c-section recovery is not that bad - at all. Bonus - that HOOHA is even better than I remember leaving it. ;)
This unbelievable connection - overflowing burst of love ..... may not be immediate. Yup - I said it. Call the cops. I'm not a bad mom. In fact, I am a DAMN GOOD MOMMY. And 10 weeks into motherhood - I look at Miss Pix and she melts my heart. The way she busts open a huge gummy smile when I say our routine, "Hi MAMA, Hi BABYYY" makes me nearly cry. But in the spirit of honesty, realness and being totally raw for you - it wasn't immediate. Here I labored for 15+ hours and was then told to hang up my fighting gloves that I was going in for a c-section. I was heartbroken because I knew that c-sections didn't give you that natural burst of oxytocin - this biggest natural dose you'll ever get in your life. Shaking, crying and scared on an operating table with my husband holding my hand, kissing my forehead and telling me it would be ok .... our precious baby girl came into the world. I was shocked. I saw her from the table and she was so cute and I just truly couldn't believe what was happening. An hour later I finally get to hold this baby. Are they sure she's mine? They didn't swap this one out for another one in the back? I was so proud of her. Proud of my husband and me for creating her. Thankful to God for her. But I can't say that I was OVERWHELMED with love for her. Of course, I loved her. But it wasn't what I thought it would feel like. I spent the next ... gosh... two weeks (?) caring for her because I knew I had to and because I knew she was mine and needed me for everything. But I felt there was a big connection missing. Call it stress from trying to breastfeed and increase my supply. Call it unbelievable exhaustion. Call it hormones trying to level off postpartum. But I felt this incredible guilt that I didn't feel this unimaginable love that every mother before me told me about. What did that kind of love even feel like? Worst fear yet: did I have it in me after all to be the kind of mother my own mother turned out to be?! I'm happy to report that ... that kind of love has developed. I am here to tell you though - that not every single mama has that incredible, overwhelming, unimaginable love the second their baby comes into the world. For some of us - that love grows a little bit each and every day until a day comes when you look at that love child that you made and you couldn't imagine your life without them and every single thing they do makes you smile, melt, cry and beam with joy, pride, and gratitude.
In the beginning of your baby's life, your life will revolve around them in 2-4 hour blocks of time. It is exhausting. It seems every 2-4 hours you're nursing them, pumping, giving a bottle, washing bottles, changing diapers, empty a diaper genie, walking the dog, peeing, burping them, rocking them, trying to sneak in a quick bite, washing a load of laundry, drying and folding, putting laundry away, stocking the diaper changing table, taking a shower yourself, catching up on the Bachelorette, loading and unloading the dishwasher, calling the insurance company, FaceTiming your girlfriends on the west coast, etc. It is impossible to get anything done in the beginning. You literally have an hour or two every 2 hours and you're supposed to get life done during those "breaks." My SIL keeps the tidiest house. I have never kept a house like she does and I sure as hell can't right now. It's ok if someone comes over to visit and you ask them to hold/change/feed the baby while you shower. It's ok if someone comes over to visit and you ask them to fold a load of laundry or take the dog out. Ask for and accept help - you will be so thankful for that help later.
If you don't brush your teeth before the baby's first cry and diaper change/feeding in the morning ... there's a good chance your day will get away from you and it's 2:00pm and you're like ... holy hell I need to brush my teeth.
If you're breastfeeding ... you'll be more exhausted than you've ever been in your life. But you can't even enjoy a Venti Iced Coffee - two pumps caramel - no room. Bummer. Truly I thought that being pregnant was the biggest sacrifice and job of my life - but it wasn't. Breastfeeding was the biggest sacrifice and job of my life. We had a lot of trouble with breastfeeding and after 8 weeks - I ended that chapter of our life for us. I can report that even though I felt INCREDIBLE guilt for stopping breastfeeding because I made a little milk, I feel so much better NOT breastfeeding anymore (I made milk but not nearly enough to sustain our child - I'm talking a severe undersupply). What would all the other mama's who were #exclusivelybreastfeeding say to me?! The mom shame is soooooo real people. If you're a mama - STOP. ;) Because our journey breastfeeding was so challenging - I feel such a weight taken off me and such a JOY brought back to Pix and my relationship because I'm not killing myself to make something work that just wasn't working for us. #FormulaForOurWin
SEX. I'm gonna go there. Why? Because I have always kept it SUPER REAL and super raw with you. I won't go into details of our life -because hey - what happens between my husband and I should stay there. I will say though that I feared that it would be painful for me. Would my incision hurt? Would my insides hurt because of my c-section? I felt scared like I was a virgin all over again! LOL My biggest takeaways from this part of recovery and new motherhood are this: 1) Listen to your doctor! If he/she says don't do it yet, don't do it. PERIOD. 2) Find other ways to be intimate with your spouse if you aren't ready for this part yet. 3) Take it reaaaaaal slow when that first time 'back in the saddle' happens. 4) Make sure to communicate with your spouse if you aren't ready and make sure to communicate with your spouse your fears if you are ready and just want them to take it slow and easy. :) Enough on that topic! ;)
Lastly, you're going to look at that naked bod in the mirror and wonder what in the f*ck happened to you. Unless you're blessed with unbelievable genetics ... we are all in this boat together. I remember crying on MULTIPLE occasions when seeing my naked body in it's full postpartum glory. Swelling. Stretch marks. Cellulite. Pale. Jiggly. Feeling like it was 'used.' The best thing that you can do for yourself to feel better and feel like you're getting back to yourself postpartum: MOVE YOUR BODY and FUEL YOUR BODY. Yes, I said it. If you haven't been released by your doctor to workout - at least get your mommy booty out for some fresh air with the stroller. Walk, walk, walk. And stop eating CRAP. I get it. I was NOT perfect during my pregnancy. I ate more of those stupid sugar cookies (lofthouse?) with the loads of icing than I will ever own up to. I promise. LOL But if you want to feel better from the inside out - then you have to take care of yourself!!! If you don't know where to start, or you would love some support, love, encouragement and accountability - email me at firstname.lastname@example.org - because I run monthly private virtual fitness sisterhoods and I can promise you that you won't regret taking care of you. You have to put YOUR oxygen mask on first before assisting others. I will NEVER look in the mirror again like I have the last few months and wonder - will I always look and feel like this??? Because I know through workouts, nutrition and a sisterhood that I can earn a fantastic, fit, and healthy mom bod.
At the end of the day as exhausting as FTM/new motherhood truly is - enjoy it. Leave the dishes in the sink. Don't waste time mopping the floors at the moment. Don't worry about doing your hair and makeup every day. ENJOY and LIVE IN THE MOMENT. Because it goes by so fast and I'm crying as I type this - but I look at Miss Pix and I can't believe that she is 2 months old.
I can't believe she is almost giggling and rolling over. I can't believe that she can hold her head up now and that she finds and grabs on for dear life - my fingers. God, I love this little girl with my whole entire being - and I can't believe that so much time has gone by. I was packing away and organizing her newborn clothes because she is no longer able to wear them - and I can't believe already that she was that small. I'm going to extra treasure every single moment because my husband and I made an agreement that we were a "one and done" kind of couple. Every morning that I get to walk up to her crib and say: "good morning mama! good morning baby!" and see her big gummy smile; every diaper change; every post bottle snuggle; every bath time; every song I sing to her; every BAD dance move I do to make her smile; every workout I do in front of her to show her how to be a happy, healthy mama; every nighttime routine where she gets in her little PJ's; and every night when I walk by her crib and see a peaceful and sound asleep little girl - I am reminded that I once was that little. I once was her age. And, look at me now - almost 30 and a mommy myself. I know it's going to go so fast. I know that someday soon I'm going to take her shopping for clothes for kindergarten. I know that she'll have a little best friend and sleepovers. I know that she will play sports or maybe an instrument. I know she'll get her drivers license and drive away someday as an adult.
Don't give up.
If you ever feel like giving up, just remember that there is a little girl watching who wants to be just like you ... don't disappoint her.
So I'm enjoying every moment that I can. And, I encourage you too as a FTM to just enjoy it. Even when that sweet babe of yours is crying at the top of their lungs. Pick them up, snuggle them, kiss them, and make sure they know and feel that they are safe in their mommas arms.