14 Things I Wish I Had Heard with My First Baby
I think every mother, womb-grown & heart-grown, has this litany somewhere in their head: those things they wish they’d heard when they were anticipating the arrival of their baby and the thereafter. Those things they wished someone had told them.
My list is pretty long. Probably because I was the first in my family to have a baby, and first in my immediate friend group to be pregnant, and had just moved prior to being pregnant so even those new moms I did know now lived far away from us. A few of my cousins who lived close by had young children and that helped! A few neighbors did, too. No one I worked with that I was close enough to ask things like why is this happening to my unmentionables?? I read a lot, and found community online where I could ask questions. Mostly I just plodded through, trial & error style.
Some of these may resonate, some may not. Hopefully you’re hearing (or heard) what you needed to during your first transition!
It can be physically hard to be pregnant, and that doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong.
Not everyone who you think doesn’t have a baby, doesn’t have a baby. Lots of loss is invisible, from adoptive plans gone awry to miscarriage to fertility struggles. Don’t assume anything about other women’s bodies.
It’s okay to feel emotionally out of whack, but if you’re having trouble with day-to-day functioning, tell your provider. You’re not whining. You might need progesterone shots, talk therapy, or meds. And there’s NO shame in those.
Other women might be struggling too and not talking about the hard parts. Find someone who shares your similar struggles so you can talk about them and not feel like an idiot.
You may not glow. At all.
Your body will stretch and stretch back. It really will. No, it won’t be the same, but it doesn’t stay 40 weeks pregnant looking (or feeling) forever.
Don’t take anyone’s advice. Listen to it, evaluate it, but see if it fits for you. You’re going to be the best parent for your child, not the expert parenting book or your in-laws.
Methods of birth aren’t moral or immoral. There’s no wrong way to birth. Do the best you can to prepare yourself mentally and physically (take a class, tour the hospital, read the books & blogs). Then let it go. And if anyone criticizes your birth, tell them they suck.
Same goes for methods of feeding your baby.
New motherhood is lonely. Lots of diapers, feedings, burps, and passing out (both of you). Find your balance between connecting with others and overcommitting your postpartum healing self.
Stay in bed and resting for as long as possible. The first few weeks you never ever get back. No one cares that you’re exhausted at 5 months out. You still have to show up, go to work, or whatever your commitments are. But the first 5 weeks? They’re yours. Don’t squander them on undeserving people or jeans that button.
Every hard stage has a sweet part. And it shifts, constantly. It’s okay to not have your baby “figured out” right away. And yes, when people ask, yours is a good baby. All babies are good babies. They don’t have the capacity to be “bad.”
When you want to scream at your partner because they are not doing “it” right, remember that they’re also getting used to being a parent. You need them on your side (and to fetch you ice cream). Be nice. Text your sister later.
You just lost control of your body and your life in a way that will never ever return. Don’t fight that. Just relax into it. You’re probably going to be a better person because of it (I am!).
I wish I had heard some or all of these things, so I can now happily foist them upon you as I’m entering week 31 of my fourth pregnancy! What did you wish you had heard? Related post: 5 mothering mistakes I made with my firstborn!
On Monday, we’ll start the Couple’s Journey Scripture study that focuses on what’s happening in your life regarding fertility, infertility, hyper fertility, sub fertility, adoption, loss, miscarriage, foster, etc. Come join this community to pray and discern and figure out how to go deeper with your spouse!
Yes! Yes! Yes!
Awww, so glad it resonated.
Wish I had heard, “It’s OK not to fall in love with your baby at first sight.” I held my boys for 1 minute (first twin) and about 10 seconds (second twin) before they were whisked away from me to the NICU. Intellectually I knew that I loved them, but it didn’t feel like I thought it would. It took me a long time to describe the feeling, but eventually I realized I loved them more because of WHAT they were (tiny, defenseless, fragile) than WHO they were. But the moment they first smiled at me? Real, eyes-open-and-focused, gummy baby smile? That was like a lightning bolt that showed me my first glimpse of the person inside each of them. That’s when the real, powerful mother-love started. Now I tell moms-to-be that they will love their baby, but it’s OK if that love grows over time rather than arrives fully formed. Love your words, hope you are feeling well these days!
I totally agree!
I wish someone had told me that parenting is rarely an all-or-nothing thing. I probably would have cloth diapered with my first had I run across someone who mentioned that it was okay to use disposables as needed. My best friend said she probably would have stuck with breastfeeding longer if she hadn’t felt like everyone (doctors, ads, the sanctimommies) was saying ‘you either need to suffer through or make the switch.’ She wished someone had told her that supplementing while breastfeeding would have been okay indefinitely. Thankfully I figured a bit out on the way- we made our own strange hybrid version of non-cry-it-out sleep training; we did homemade baby food, organic store bought food, and stuff off our plates as needed; and I had a midwife-assisted hospital birth because I wanted that specific level of care in a hospital setting (unusual for my area). I think we have more options than we realize.
Oh my gosh YES YES YES.
Kristen already said my comment: Yes! Yes! Yes! 🙂
Don’t fuss with jeans that button or the expectations of others. Delight in the smell of your baby’s head. Your baby is good. You are good. Such truth.
I certainly wish that I would have just *enjoyed* my first couple new babies in stead of worrying, worrying, worrying about everything.
Wisdom! Nix on that worrying.
I wish someone had told me not to be afraid not to question my care provider. Looking back there were some serious red flags with my first midwife. You DO deserve to have your questions answered, and if they won’t give you a straight answer find someone else.
I am on baby number seven right now, but if I could talk to my twenty year old self eighteen years ago, I would tell her about ecological breastfeeding. I ended up practicing its guidelines without even realizing it was also a method of natural family planning. It has been a wonderful practice for me as a mother and has been the perfect solution to a plethora of mothering problems.
I loved this! Especially the “New motherhood is lonely…” one. That was something I was unprepared for. Now I am 3 kids in and have an awesome mama tribe, but I didn’t with my first. I spent a lot of days where my only human contact was a 4 month old and then my husband for a short time in the evening. I actually look back at that quiet time fondly, but I remember feeling lonely.
I hope a newly pregnant or new mom sees this list!
yes–it was so lonely!! XO