What I Wish I Would Have Known
Christine Sweeney, LICSW Program Manager, Parent Connection, BIDMC
JANUARY 13, 2016
If you are like many first-time moms, during your pregnancy, you planned and prepared for the arrival of your little one. You took care of yourself, saw your OB regularly, and gathered the gear you'd need to welcome this new little being home. You may have wondered how your life might change, but that you'd figure it out--people have been doing this forever right? How hard can it be?
While we may have tried to prepare for life post-delivery, it's really hard to grasp what new parenthood's going to feel like until you are in the midst of it. I recently polled some new moms, asking what they'd wish they had known and this is what they had to say:
I wish I knew that learning to breastfeed is really hard and while it's natural, it doesn't necessarily come naturally. I wish that I had gotten the name and phone number of a lactation consultant in my area and posted that info on my fridge, so I wasn't scrambling to find a resource when I had a screaming, hungry baby.
I wish I’d known that while it was normal for there to be some pain initially with breastfeeding, bleeding nipples were NOT normal and warranted intervention (like a breast shield) and an urgent appointment with a lactation consultant.
I wish I knew it was OK to limit the amount of visitors during those first few days at home with baby, and that it really was OK to say no to my in-laws moving in with us for the first two weeks. It was great to have their help, but I would have preferred that they stayed at a bed and breakfast nearby.
I wish I knew that it was OK to have a birth plan, but to understand that it didn't mean I had failed if my plan didn't go exactly as I had anticipated.
I wish I knew that I wasn't the only mother that did not feel an instant love connection with my baby. It took me a little more time to fall crazy, madly in love with my baby.
I ‘m so grateful for one mom, who during a moms group meeting was brave enough to admit that she didn’t like the newborn period. As soon as she said it, almost all the moms joined in to agree!
I wish I knew that going to a new moms group was one of the best things I could do after my baby was born. Just being in the presence of other mothers and realizing I was not alone was HUGE! One of the most important things to come out of going to a moms group was the honesty in the room. I learned that I didn’t have to pretend that I had it all together when most of the time, especially in the early weeks, I didn’t. Little by little I started to get my “sea legs on”, but some moms struggles got worse, and the group leader was able to recognize when a mom wasn’t just having the baby blues, and get her the necessary medical help.
I wish I knew that it was OK to call my pediatrician as often as I needed to, and that it was better to call than to go to the internet searching for answers. The internet, more often than being helpful, actually made me more anxious.
I wish I knew that despite how overwhelmed I felt with the prospect of putting my baby in daycare and going back to work, that it would be OK. That it was another first of many transitions, but that we would all be OK.
I wish I knew to give up the goal of trying to get our lives "back to normal". Our lives were forever changed and it was OK to feel a sense of loss and sadness that our life before of carefree spontaneity was gone. We were working towards a new normal.
I wish I knew how much I would come to love this tiny little being and how I would experience a depth of love I never knew existed before becoming a mom.