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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The new mom secret

There's a book I recently finished that I just love. It's called The Girlfriends' Guide to Surviving the First Year of Motherhood. Frank picked it up for me at a garage sale when I was pregnant, along with its prequel, The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy.

I thought the pregnancy one was a little over-the-top, but the First Year of Motherhood one was right on the money. In particular, I keep thinking about this excerpt from Chapter Five:

There are three types of new mothers:

1. The type who give birth and resume their lives with confidence, clear thinking and enthusiasm;
2. The kind who give birth and wish that a fairy godmother would make the baby disappear and restore them to their former life; and
3. The rest of us.

The author then goes on to say that most women have moments when they are in the first group and moments when they are in the second. After all, she says, "how can you experience a metamorphosis from personhood to motherhood without some ambivalence, apprehension or anxiety?"

This strikes me as incredibly wise, and I was so glad to read this because it made me feel normal during those first few weeks, when I found myself crying a lot and struggling to adjust to caring for a baby who seemed like a "bundle of needs." And this is me—the girl who dreamed about being a mother since she knew what a mother was! When I was in high school, we had a "career day" where we were supposed to dress like what we wanted to be when we grew up, and I carried around a baby doll to symbolize being a stay-at-home mom (I actually wasn't the only girl in the class who did that—which tells you a lot about my high school!). The point is, I wanted to be a mom more than anything, and yet I still had a rough adjustment. I think this "secret" is so important to talk about. Crying a lot, feeling overwhelmed, taking some time to even like being a mom—this is all NORMAL. Every new mom I've met has felt this way at some point. Many feel like they can't talk about it, because there is this idea that motherhood is just straight-up bliss, but that fourth trimester adjustment, the longest shortest time, is real. I think every new mom should know that she's not a weirdo for being an emotional mess at some point those first few weeks.

Now, that being said, there is a really important corollary to that. At some point, your hormones even out and being a mom just "clicks." At some point you begin to really love, and I mean LOVE, being a mom. It happens at a different point for every woman. For me, it happened when my baby was a month old and started to smile at me on purpose. Instead of screaming every time I changed his diaper, he started smiling and giggling, like he was saying, "Thanks, Mom!" It's so darn cute. Also, he can recognize his parents' voices now; these past few weeks, when he hears Frank's voice for the first time in the evenings, the little one will start laughing and kicking his little feet in excitement. Again, cutest thing you can imagine.

Trying to see what Dad is watching on the TV (probably baseball)
At 8 weeks in, I can honestly say I LOVE being a mom. It's even better than I imagined in all the years that I dreamed of being one. I could seriously go on and on about how much fun it is. Yes, FUN. Babies are absolutely hilarious, and I spend all day laughing at the adorable, funny things my little guy does, like making goofy faces when he's being burped or laughing in his sleep or trying to latch on with his eyes closed. Having a baby has also been amazing for our marriage; it has really bonded Frank and me closer together, as we both enjoy our little one so much and have fun together talking to him, playing with him and trying to make him laugh. I honestly wouldn't have believed the awesome effect a baby has on a relationship if I hadn't experienced it myself. Even the parts of being a mom that are stereotypically "hard" are actually awesome. For example, those 3 am feedings that keep you up at night? They are such a cozy, intimate time to snuggle with your baby, and I honestly enjoy them! I'll stop there, since I'm pretty sure no one wants to read a blog of just my gushing over my baby, but the point is that despite a rocky start, I find myself thinking at least 10 times a day, "I love being a mom."


So if there is anything I would tell a friend who is about to have a baby, it's this: don't be surprised if you don't love being a mom right away. Almost everyone feels that way. And don't worry—for most people, that feeling will go away sooner or later—and before you know it, being a mom will be even more awesome than you ever imagined.

7 comments:

  1. Amen. And (in my limited experience) it only gets MORE fun! Hard to imagine, but it's true. :)

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  2. Beautifully put!! I'm glad you're adjusting so well :) I may have to grab that book!

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  3. He is blessed to have a mom like you! <3

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  4. So true :) Your little boy is getting so big! Crazy how they grow, huh?

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  5. Being a gal who's about to have her first baby (just a feeeeeeew more weeks!!), I LOVE this post. I love hearing that I'm going to cry and that it's okay, and that it's going to be hard, but that it's going to be the most awesome thing ever. It seems like I never hear a balanced account, you know? It's either ominous intonations of: "Enjoy sleep while you can!" or very dreamy: "Every single minute is awesome and precious (and if you don't feel that way, you've got a problem."

    Thank you! ♥

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