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What To Expect: An Honest Look At Your First Year As A New Mom

Starting to get the hang of this whole Mom gig.

Having a baby is, without a doubt, the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And I’m not talking about labor & delivery, so if that’s what you’re worrying about, let it go. It’s the Being A Mom part that I’m talking about.

Your first year as a new mom will be hard, you will cry, but it will also be so rewarding and those parts will also make you cry because you’re so full up with love and joy. I guess there’s a lot of crying as a new mom. At least for me. So let’s take an honest look at what you can expect after you bring your bundle of joy home from the hospital.

Let Go Of Being Perfect:

The first and most important thing you can do is forget everything you’ve ever seen on TV, forget what all your friends say, forget what mothers and mothers-in-law say and get ready to forge your own motherhood path.  For some people, being the perfect mother includes cleaning the house every day.  Stop that!  Just stop it right now!  Let the dirty dishes go and don’t you DARE feel guilty about it.  Being a new mom is the only thing you should concern yourself with during that first month or two after baby comes home.  Just do what you can and if that feels like too much, don’t do that.

Your day should consist of taking care of baby AND YOURSELF (taking care of yourself is a huge part of taking care of baby) and you should feel triumphant if you manage to squeeze in a shower, ya dig?  So stop trying to do it all.  There is no script for you to follow.  You are writing the screenplay as you go.

The First Year Is Really Hard:

With the births of both my children, I felt like I had fallen into a well. It wasn’t until about two months postpartum (just recently) that I started to feel like myself again. Every, single thing in your world changes. You have to relearn how to live life, basically. How am I going to go to the grocery store, how will I exercise with a baby, how am I going to walk the dogs… There are an endless list of tasks that you don’t even think about that will become huge issues for you. But it’s okay. You’ll experiment and figure out the best ways to accomplish things and one day you’ll nail it. You’ll go to the grocery store, go for a jog in the park, shower and fix dinner, all with your newborn and you will feel triumphant.

As Nancy Ripton over at JustTheFactsBaby.com reports, take comfort in knowing the first year is the hardest:

“The first year is really brutal in many ways,” says Alyson Schafer, author of The Good Mom Myth. You’ll be sleep deprived, your baby will cry and you’ll quickly learn that parenting is really hard work. It’s also a huge life change. Moving from a professional atmosphere (or just one where your needs come first) to a family one is dramatic. The first step is to realize you can’t manage your family the same way you did your career.

“Women come to me upset and say, ‘Why can I manage a team of employees but I can’t get my six-month-old to sleep,’” says Schafer. Work ethic mentality doesn’t work with small children. “Parenting is about relationships, not spreadsheets,” she says. And relationships take time to build but don’t worry, you’ll get there. Things will get easier, you’ll build your own routines and you’ll be rewarded by your budding relationship with your baby.

It’s Okay To Not Be Happy All The Time:

Remember, let go of any motherhood stereotypes you have. Again, from JustTheFactsBaby.com:

“We’ve created an image of an iconic and wonderful motherhood,” says Alyson Schafer. New moms need to accept that they can’t do everything nobody can. (So forget about embracing the ideal of supermom Elyse Keaton from the 80s sitcom Family Ties and take heart from Claire Dunphy ala Modern Family instead.)

Everyone, and I mean EVERY, SINGLE MOM gets at least a touch of the baby blues. It would be weird not to experience those emotions considering how your life has changed. And being solely responsible for the health and care of another human being is exhausting! Baby blues are normal, but if they spiral into a more severe depression, talk to your doctor about it. Talk to other mothers too! We’ve all been there.

Here are a few extremely important facts to keep in mind:

  • Up to 80 percent of new moms experience some form of the baby blues.
  • Seek out other new moms they can help the most.
  • Let go of the idea that there’s such a thing as “the perfect mom.”
  • Don’t try to mother alone delegate!
  • If you find yourself feeling irritable, angry, and/or noticing changes in your sleeping and eating patterns, don’t wait to get help.

Good luck! You’ll be great! And before you know it you’ll be considering adding another child to the mix because you love being a mom. I know I do. As a professional woman who lived alone and worked in a newsroom for many, many years, I wouldn’t change my life as a mom who works from home now for anything. You only get one shot at being a mama and before you know it, they’ll be grown up and gone.

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