Woman pens words of wisdom on the struggle of the newborn phase and how it gets better
Firstly, congratulations on your teeny tiny bundle. You grew a human! That officially makes you awesome.
How are you feeling, now the dust has settled a bit? Probably a mixture of happy, knackered, confused and anxious. Because it’s weird isn’t it, becoming a mum? Pretty overwhelming, I’d say. I remember those early weeks so well. That feeling of exhaustion at the end of the day and thinking, ‘Do I really have to do all this again tomorrow?‘ It felt like such a feat some days. I wasn’t sure I was up to the job, to be honest.
Everything feels so permanent when you’re a mum for the first time. Like it will never get better or easier. You think you’ll never sleep again. I mean, how will you when the baby doesn’t sleep for longer than a couple of hours? How on earth do you even get a baby to go to sleep? To stay asleep? Without rocking it? And you daren’t put the baby down. Ever. Because she might detonate everything in her path. We spent the first two months taking turns to eat dinner until we realised she wasn’t a hand grenade and we could put her down.
You will sleep again. You will. The baby will grow and as she grows, she’ll become more satisfied and wake less for milk. You’ll find ways to comfort her and settle her for sleep. Maybe you’ll rock her. Maybe she’ll self-soothe. It doesn’t really matter right now. Do whatever you need to do to get through the day. Because it only takes three days to break a habit. Three days, that’s all! So if you do create habits you want to change later, you’ll be able to. In three days. When you’re ready. When you’re strong enough. When it matters.
And this will stand you in good stead because your baby will keep you on your toes. She will sleep and lull you into a false sense of reality. Then suddenly she’ll have a couple of off days where sleep is the last thing on her mind. Because she’s teething. Or having a growth spurt. Or just doesn’t feel like it. Likewise with food, one day she’ll eat sweet potato. The next? She’ll be flinging it across the room in disgust. And protesting with a hunger strike. It will make you feel anxious. Out of control. Tearful. This is a natural, maternal response that never fades. My mum still worries about me and my sister eating, thirty years later. Try to just go with it and you’ll feel more relaxed. Because babies don’t play by the rules, I’m afraid (neither do toddlers or schoolers, but let’s save that for another day).
You’re probably discovering that alongside challenging and tiring, motherhood is actually a bit monotonous. Sometimes lonely. So get yourself out every day. For a walk in the park. Feel the sun on your head. Meet a friend for coffee. And a humungous slab of cake. Or make the most of the fact your baby can’t move yet and do some good old fashioned retail therapy.