I did it, y’all. I survived the first six weeks… I choose the word survive because that’s exactly what you will do for the first six weeks of your very first child’s infant life. I sit here and look at my son, Wyatt, who turns seven weeks old tomorrow and tear up a little bit. For one, I found out today that he has his first cold. Poor buddy, he’s so small. Somehow though, I have found strength from having survived these first few weeks and feel confident to battle this first cold by his side.
I think of other firsts that we’ve shared so far… The first time I held him in my arms. I was shaking like a leaf on a tree in the middle of a hurricane. I had so much adrenaline pumping through me to get this child safely from inside me that I literally shook, for almost six hours during labor and nearly three after the birth, from head to toe. I felt so bad that I couldn’t stop shaking while I was holding him. That was the first time I felt like I was letting him down. I thought, here he is, so small and so new to this world and my job is to comfort him…and I just couldn’t stop shaking. But we made it through. And I will never forget the feeling of holding him, finally feeling this little person I had been creating for nearly 42 weeks in my arms. He was a miracle, a complete dream. That feeling, that unbelievable love, grows every day.
There are other firsts that they don’t tell you about at the doctor’s office. Like the fact that when you breastfeed, you can have contractions for almost a week after pregnancy. Maybe in some circles that’s common knowledge, but I certainly hadn’t been discussing it at book club in my corner of the world, and was shocked when I felt like I was still having labor pains, almost making me feel like I was still pregnant. Talk about a one-time-for-your-mind. But I will also never forget the first time our eyes locked when he started to gain control of his eyesight while he was nursing. Since then, we always look at each other during that time, a special bond that grows each day, as now he’s started to smile at times while doing so.
A first I have so completely enjoyed is watching my family thrive in our home. My husband has come into his own as a father, something I believe with all certainty he was destined to be. He’s so wonderful with our son, who absolutely adores him, completely enthralled by him. I’m so glad God chose him as my partner for parenthood. We work well together and he supports me when I need him most, and I am proud to be the mother of his child.
In the first six weeks, you will experience absolute sleep deprivation for the first time, because I can’t recall another time in my life I’ve felt more exhausted. After all, your heart is now walking around and beating outside of your chest in the form of the biggest responsibility you’ve ever known. Sleep seems nearly impossible for the fact that you are just so consumed with this little life and the fact that it is completely in your hands. But then there is the first time your little babe falls asleep on your chest while you hold them, or falls asleep nursing in your arms, mouth hanging wide open, and you will simply forget how completely tired you are.
Ladies, you will forget to eat. Yep, entire meals. Hours will go by and you will have fed that kid six or seven times and start to literally hear your stomach rumble and think, “when was the last time I ate or drank something?” Try not to forget this because healthy mommies are more likely to be happy mommies. Set an alarm if you need to. I have one that asks me when the last time I had water was, because I was forgetting to stay hydrated for breastfeeding.
The peanut gallery is not the final say. Don’t get me wrong—I am beyond grateful for the advice that other new moms have given me. I have learned so much from so many strong women who have also been through this wild ride of motherhood and have discovered ways to deal with the stress and the new challenges that they face. (To these women, I sincerely thank you to the moon and back.) So many women have reached out with so many different opinions and tricks—some that work, others that don’t, and some I may not even need or want to try. As a new mom, all you can do is try to figure out what works best for you and your baby and try not to worry about the at times overwhelming amount of advice. Remember that every baby is different. Some of this given advice will work into your routine and for your family; some will not—you will figure out what works for your kiddo.
It’s ok to cry. I have. A lot more than I thought I would. Throughout my pregnancy. And the last six weeks. Shoot, I cried two days ago. The sleep deprivation is real, my friends. It will break even the strongest of women. Remember, I’m admitting this so you know that other moms do it too. And it’s ok to not really know why you are crying. Our bodies release stress when we cry, so go on sister, pull out those tissues and get a good loud sob out. It feels so good to get it off your chest. Somehow, it is like a reset button for me. We shoulder so much responsibility with motherhood that if we don’t shed that extra weight somehow, it will start to weigh us down and we need to be happy mommies for our growing, impressionable babies.
Some women will not be able to stop crying and will need help to deal with the newness of motherhood. It is ok to be one of these women. In fact, postpartum depression can occur in all shapes and sizes, and have different extremes and symptoms. Ask for help if this happens, and know that this is a hormonal/chemical issue with the pregnancy/birth that needs medical attention, not one that means you are not prepared for motherhood.
Get ready for the ride of a lifetime. There is nothing like it in the world. My best friend said to me today, “I don’t know how you do it, 24/7…just baby, baby, baby.” I told her that it’s something that doesn’t feel like a job. It’s just part of me. I can’t really explain it with words. The kid and I are connected; it’s so special. I see his personality developing every day and it amazes me. But I didn’t start feeling like that until about week five, when these developments started to really take place. At times, and for a while, you are going to feel like a diaper-changing, milk-pumping cow who never sleeps. But eventually, you will discover what it feels like to have your kid start to recognize your voice, your smell, your face, your coos, your routine…you. And surviving your heart bursting at those moments will be the greatest feeling in the world.
You’ll also like What to Expect in the 4th Trimester, Dear SAHM: I See You and Want You to Know These 8 Things, 7 Tips For Battling Baby Blues, This is What a Well-Loved Woman Feels, Complete Your Baby Registry: 10 Must-Have Items Under $30, and You Don’t Have to Be Perfect to Be a Great Mom