We are nearly at Bryan’s first month of life and though it is exciting, this first month has definitely been one of grit, tears and a very big learning experience as first time parents.
Though I have learned a lot about what it really takes to raise a child (I’m not saying I know it all, because I’m far from it), I have also learned a lot about myself. A child definitely makes you think less of yourself and what you may want and need and more of what you can do to raise your baby in a safe, healthy and happy environment.
This post may contradict a little of what I wrote a couple weeks ago in my post about not forgetting that you are just as important as the baby (check out our previous post “Newlyweds to New Parents”), but in these last couple weeks I have definitely had a small change of heart.
It was a huge wakeup call for me the other day when Tory pointed out that no matter how tired I am, I still have a small human who relies on me to be my 100% self to take care of him. But how can I do that when I’m drained and feeling overwhelmed? How can I be 100% for Bryan if I can’t even give myself 100%?!
In this first month of parenthood I have learned that there are some feelings that others still seem to shame new parents on (in my experience, you may not feel the same), or at least we feel ashamed (I know I have) for admitting it to others. You know what, it’s 100% OKAY to admit you need help!
I honestly wish I had realized this a little earlier because it would’ve saved a lot of restless nights of feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, frustrated and inexperienced and insecure. It would’ve saved so many nights where I tried my best to hold in my tears so that my sweet baby wouldn’t pick up on my mood.
Trying to juggle a crying infant while cooking dinner and making his bottle has been a challenge I have faced several times during this month.
I know that my mom has been here to help and Tory is home during the day, but I didn’t want to ask for help. I wanted to do it on my own, thinking that when my mom returns to Houston, it would just be me and Bryan at home when Tory’s gone at work each night. So my mindset was that I should learn how to do it on my own, right? WRONG (so completely wrong)!
Always remember it’s okay to ask for help when you have it and when you can! My overwhelming thoughts could’ve been spared had I just asked Tory to cook dinner one night or just asked him to watch Bryan while I cooked dinner. Instead, I chose the long, tiring route.
For the first weeks since we came home from he hospital, I exclusively breast pumped to feed Bryan. As you all know from my last post (“The Breastfeeding Debate: To Breast Feed or Not”), breastfeeding directly had been out of the question so I had been working on a pumping schedule of every 3 hours. But what was exhausting was that the pumping, feeding and changing schedules never matched up.
So when people say “sleep when the baby sleeps,” they must’ve figured out how to do everything in their sleep because it sure hadn’t worked for me!
Frustrated and Inexperienced
Babies can always sense when you’re feeling a certain way. I’ve tried my best to stay as calm as I can, but I have to admit there have been days when I’ve had my fair share of frustration.
Frustrated that my baby wouldn’t eat for me the way he does for his daddy or his grandma. Frustrated that he seemed to cry bloody murder when I rocked him to sleep but fell asleep so quickly and easily for his daddy.
There have been days where I felt so inexperienced to the point of tears and I look over to see how easy Tory made it look.
Granted, he had experience with his niece and nephew when they were infants. Of course I have nieces and nephews of my own, but I just got to play the role of aunt and gave them back when they started to fuss. I had never had to play the role of caretaker, let alone try to fuse two completely different cultures of parenting together to raise our baby.
I know this doesn’t relate to asking for help, but I’ve also experienced days where I felt like I wasn’t in my own body (it might also have to do with the lifestyle I’ve been living the last month- check out our post “The Long Road to Recovery”).
I felt insecure (in the past I’ve never felt this way about my body) and I couldn’t openly admit it.
I wanted my old body back. I missed fitting into my old clothes instead of having to wear my husband’s t-shirts. I missed my toned abs (from years of being an athlete in high school and college). I missed not having to wear a bra 24/7 (I’ve felt so restricted, especially at night when I go to bed, they are not meant to be trapped in a bra all day!). I missed not leaking milk or bleeding all the time (this may be a “TMI,” but who are we kidding, every mother knows what I’m talking about and it’s no surprise!).
When would I go back to “normal”? Or was my new normal the little flab left on my stomach from pregnancy? Was it the new chest size that hurt my back all the time? Was it the swollen fingers where my engagement ring wouldn’t fit anymore?
How could I admit this without feeling some sort of guilt? Of course my body was different. I had 9 months of gaining 50 lbs. of pregnancy weight to prepare me for postpartum. I have a precious baby boy, why would I be insecure about my new body? This body brought me the best gift life could ever give me.
It Gets Better
Each day is getting better little by little, but I wish I had known earlier that it’s okay to ask for help, be honest about how you feel, and there are people who won’t judge you for it.
It’s okay to admit that you need a break. We’re all human, we can’t constantly do something 24/7 and not expect to need a break once in a while.
It took me a while, but I’ve realized that as your baby grows, so does your level of experience. The exhaustion, frustration, inexperience and insecurity will disappear and you’ll be able to do things one-handed, half asleep or even imagine it in your sleep, and you’ll be able to embrace the body you have no matter what size or shape it is. So hang in there, because you’re not alone!