By Guest Writer: Kara Hildebrandt
Becoming a parent is truly a unique experience. Aside from the typical first trimester hurdles (i.e. feeling extremely tired, nauseous, having headaches that make you feel like you’re hung-over without having had the enjoyment of alcohol, etc.), I had a pretty easy, breezy pregnancy. Sure, I had my fair share of worrying about what everything would be like; but, overall I felt pretty confident things would be okay. It wasn’t easy for me to get pregnant so I was appreciative that the time had finally come. Little did I know I was about to embark on the craziest emotional roller coaster I had ever experienced. I still wish someone had better prepared me for what to expect (and want to scream when my husband says things like, “I was prepared for this. I have no clue how you weren’t!” Argh !@#$#@$. So, these are my thoughts, gripes and tips – if they help just one new mama or mama-to-be, the world will be a better place.
-Leaving the hospital was SCARY. My husband was ready to be home while I was petrified of leaving the nice nurses who provided such wonderful 24 hour care during our stay. If you have relatives or friends who offer to help, take them up on it! You’re practically a zombie in the beginning so anyone willing to help is a life saver. Don’t be afraid to ask for their help!
-Along those same lines, don’t be afraid to explicitly say what you need. Not everyone is a mind reader and it’s okay to say, “can you go to the store and pick up milk?” or “do you mind watching the baby while I take a 20 minute nap?”. The help is only as good you let it be.
-If breast feeding doesn’t work for you or feel right, don’t do it. There are a lot of proponents out there who want you to power through and do “what your body was meant to do”. This is a very personal choice and one you might not even be able to make until you’re in the situation. Your baby isn’t going to look back in 18 years and say, “Ma, I’m really disappointed you didn’t breastfeed me”. As long as your baby is eating and growing, do what works best for YOU.
-It’s okay if you’re not madly in love with your baby right away. It’s hard to love something that wakes you up every two hours and demands all of your undivided attention. The bond will come in time, I promise.
-It’s okay to resent your husband when he goes back to work and leaves you at home, completely clueless. And it’s okay to be ready to hand him the baby and put a glass of wine in your hand the second he walks in the door.
-It’s okay to cry, and to cry a lot. Hormones are a force to be reckoned with and the earlier you can accept that they will rule your emotional state of mind for the next several weeks, the better. Just remember that things will balance out over time and you won’t always feel like a hot mess crazy person.
-People always say, “don’t worry about the dishes or laundry! Enjoy your baby!”. Well, if you’re type A, like me, you thrive on control. Being a new parent is pretty much the opposite of having control. If doing the dishes keeps you sane, then get down with your bad self and scrub those dishes.
-And in all seriousness, if you are feeling very, very sad, anxious, or in a deep, dark hole you can’t get out of, SEEK HELP. My son is 5 months old and I’m only now realizing I had some postpartum depression/anxiety. There are tons of resources out there – you do not have to suffer. Parenting is hard work; but, you can’t enjoy it unless you take care of YOU. Your baby will be happiest when you’re in a good place.
-The day your baby smiles will be a game changer. Wait for it because when it hits, your heart will explode with love.
I could keep going but I’m sure you get the gist (and I’ve almost hit my word limit!). This parenting thing ain’t easy, and that’s okay to admit! Keep your chin up and when all else fails, turn on Bravo and enjoy some vino! J