From Pregnancy to Parenthood - What I learned in the First Month as "Mom"

Hi guys!

By no means am I claiming to be an expert on the first month with baby, but my experiences might help a mama to be or a mama in the thick of the first month.

Emma turns 1 month on Friday and the last couple weeks have been a cuddly, messy, haphazard learning experience for Kyle and I (and Peanut and Cole). Some of our friends visited the other night and all we could say is that nothing can prepare you for the whirlwind that is being a first time parent. There is such a learning curve, and every baby is different. Reading 100 books could not have prepared us for the 8 lb 12 oz baby girl we now call our own.

Here are 5 things we've learned in this first month as a first time parent:

1. Even if you feel crazy, you probably aren't - The first week with Emma I thought I might actually be going insane. Our family collectively slept probably 3 hours a night, and between learning to latch, understanding how to deal with her needs and what different cries could mean - we were all going a little nuts. For us (ok, ME) the worst was over after week 2 and my emotions are MOSTLY back on track. Sleep deprivation is not getting any easier, but when I look back from week one to this week, I realize how far the 3 of us have come. So if you are crying because your dog looked at you the wrong way, or because you can't find a frame for a print you want to hang (hypothetically), or because of ANYTHING, you will get through it - I promise. I also think it's so silly that openly discussing PPD or PPA is taboo in our society much like any other mental illness. The truth is, it's very common - and there is no shame in it! Would you go to the doctor to fix your broken arm? Then go to the doctor to help you if you feel you can't overcome the "blues" alone.

2. You have to work as a team - There have been many times I say that Kyle does this parenting thing better than me. He is calm, cool, collected - while I'm over here just trying to find a hair tie on day 3 of not showering, crying at a commercial for pampers. The truth is, I couldn't do it without him. My hat is off to moms who do it on their own - the word strong doesn't even begin to describe you. Work with your partner on sharing responsibilities, and on managing new roles. Give each other a lot of grace as you both learn how to be a parent to your new ball of love. Figure out a schedule that works for you, depending on work, responsibilities, etc so that neither of you feel like you are doing it alone.

3. Breastfeeding is hard! Before Emma was out of the womb and on to the boob, it was hard to imagine it being difficult to do. I was so naive to how difficult it really was so for any first time mom - you aren't alone if you feel like you might be failing at it. For me, this was a huge emotional hurdle to overcome. Pregnant me was happily registering for my medela bottles and getting my breast pump all ready so that once Emma was born I could breastfeed, and pump for Kyle to use to feed her. Postpartum me was asking friends to pick up nipple shields, Mothers Milk tea, and crying over not knowing how much she was getting when I nursed. If you feel like you and your babe aren't getting the hang of it yet - don't worry, and know that it is harder than it seems! At least it was for me. And if you don't want to breastfeed, can't, or whatever, I think that's cool too! Happy, fed baby is the most important thing. It's easy to be discouraged when the usual post on social media on breastfeeding makes it look so easy. The truth is, usually, it's not.

4. Forget the cute clothes (and headbands...) for now - Let's just focus on getting through changing the diaper and getting on a onesie without getting pooped or peed on, shall we?  Emma did NOT like getting changed the first 2 weeks or so (ok, she HATED it), but she's gotten a lot better. My point is, you'll be ready to break out all the cute things you've purchased over the last 9 (10...) months, but you may need to wait a little before actually using them. Not too mention, the headbands might be too big for your little girl's head!

5.  Don't be surprised if you don't yet feel like "mom" - The second your baby comes out, and as far as I'm concerned for the 40 weeks that precede that moment - you are a mom, you're the mom, you're mom! I didn't instantly feel like I am a mother and this motherhood thing is still settling in. Yes, I know I am a mom but it takes a while to adjust to your new role and really feel like you own it. So don't be surprised if you don't feel like you fit your new role yet. You will, and I will. Your husband? He probably doesn't quite yet feel like "dad" either. Give him some time to adjust to his new role, too.


Ladies, we can do it, this whole motherhood thing! Being a first time mom for the first month in my experience is...HARD! Way harder than I thought! Go hug your mom, seriously. Doing this job is hard.

E-mail me if you need support or simply if you want to remind me that I can do it, too ;-)

Happy mom-ing,

Shannon


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