I’m not a first time mom, but I sure feel like it.
I know this isn’t my first baby. This isn’t my first time to walk through pregnancy, to experience labor, to walk through the postpartum season or even to go through that first year of life — the year not only when your baby is born, but when a new version of you was born, a mother.
This isn’t my first baby, and though there are differences, I still very much feel a lot of what the first time moms are feeling. It’s true what they say, that every pregnancy is different and every baby is different.
If I’m being completely honest, I feel more like a first time mother this time around than I ever did when I actually became a mother for the first time.
I always knew I wanted to be a mother. Whether it was being the oldest of 4, the oldest of 8 grandchildren, nannying, countless hours of babysitting or working full time in the summers in the infant-2yr. room at a daycare during college, I’m not sure, but the idea of being a mother to a baby didn’t scare me. I don’t say this braggingly, but more matter of factly — I felt decently prepared to be a mother, at least when it came to the first year of life.
While other new moms were saying “no one ever told me about...” in regards to the baby, I expected many of those types of things.
I expected little sleep, I expected the witching hour, I expected nursing around the clock some day’s, I expected to feel lonely and isolated at times, and so on. For me, the unexpected was more of the postpartum aspect as a woman.
No one ever told me postpartum anxiety was/is a thing. No one ever told me about mastitis — aka when your boob turns the color of a tomato, grows to the size of a watermelon and makes you feel like you’re on your death bed. No one ever told me about hemorrhoids after the baby, no one ever told me I might lose too much weight.
I could go on, but I’ll stop there for now.
I knew that mood swings, crying for no reason at times and feeling depressed were all common things to experience postpartum, but I didn’t know there was a thing called postpartum anxiety — not until I was halfway through the first year and thankfully starting to come out of the thick of it.
To be transparent, my overall motherhood journey that first year felt easy when compared to others. But it didn’t come “easy” to me because I was some incredible mother. Motherhood came easy — or as easy as motherhood can be considered — because I had a fairly easy going baby.
My husband and I have been reflecting back on that first year lately, from the first night we spent with our daughter as parents, to the age that she is now. I've been reading my journals and writings from that year, preparing myself for those long nights and emotional highs + lows.
I know, I know, everyone talks about what such a good baby they have, but even my husband will agree that while being a parent was/is absolutely the hardest thing we’ve ever walked through, we can both honestly say, we had it easier than many. I’m not saying Kinsley was a perfect baby — she refused bottles, she hated her cars seat and for the life of me, we could never get that girl to take a paci. But again, these were all things that I had expected as possibilities, so it wasn’t necessarily a shock, but rather just an inconvenience to us.
As we would hear other newborn parents talk about what they were experiencing with their precious new babes, my husband and I would cast glances to each other wondering, "what in the world, this baby is crazy, these poor parents." But as we talked to more and more parents, we began to see, no, really we just got lucky with ours.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m by no means saying motherhood was a piece of cake that first year. It wasn’t. I learned more about myself, about love, about marriage and about sacrifice than I ever have in my life. I can clearly remember days where I just sat and took turns crying with my daughter because I was exhausted in every capacity — not to mention those postpartum hormones. Whew. For someone who doesn’t deal with emotions, the hormones were probably the hardest thing for me to come to terms with.
Because of how simple that first year felt with my first born though, I have a lot of fears this time around.
Will the birth be as easy? Will my body recover as quickly? Will this baby be colicky? Will she have a sleep/nursing routine that isn’t a routine at all, she just refuses to sleep all the time? Will she have reflux? Will she struggle to nurse? Will I have a milk supply? Will she have diaper rash frequently? Will she get RSV? Will she cry constantly?
And though I know the worst possible thing for me to do is compare this daughter to Kinsley’s milestones, that in itself will be a struggle for me. I’m by no means saying my child is a genius (she’s not 😂) but she learned to communicate both through sign and verbal language at a very early age, so there were very few times when I just didn’t know what she wanted/needed.
Though I try not to let them, all of these things combined trigger my anxiety, and as the due date draws closer, the more inadequate and incompetent I feel as a mother. I feel like I’m not prepared to care for a baby this time, because I never had to deal with these types of things the first time.
I keep telling my husband, “there’s just no way this baby will be anywhere as easy as Kinsley was,” to which he keeps kindly replying, “No, probably not. We were really lucky with her.”
Lol, God bless men. They’re honest to a fault sometimes.
When I was pregnant with my first, I expected the absolute worst for everything, from pregnancy to the birth to postpartum to that entire first year — (which probably wasn’t the best way to look at things, lol, but it also made life feel much easier at times because of that negative outlook), but then it all happened.
I had a simple, for the most part no surprises, birth, to a healthy baby. She latched on her own from day 1 and our breastfeeding journey couldn't have been sweeter. Her sleeping/nursing routine was like clockwork and though the sleep was still minimal, I knew exactly when she would wake for a feeding. She rarely cried (unless in a car seat, then she was a screamer). My body recovered well. I was out walking 3 days postpartum. My milk supply stayed up, etc. I experienced very few of the terrible things I had prepared for, leaving me feeling like the first year was, though challenging, stretching and extremely exhausting, somewhat of a breeze.
If this is what babies are like, I could easily take 5 I thought...
(kidding, kind of.)
Now, the toddler stage is a whole different story. Don’t sign me up for 5. I’ll take my two and call it good. Feeling prepared and equipped for anything past 18 months is not something I have felt — but that’s a story from another time.
During that first year, I felt a lot of guilt as a mother — I felt guilty because while other mothers shared about the hard things they were enduring, I felt as if the “hard” things I was experiencing weren’t hard enough, that I didn’t deserve to express how difficult it was at times, because overall my baby seemed easy in comparison to others.
The thing is though, motherhood is a journey. And just like every baby is different, every mother’s story is different. Whether we have one child or 10, we all experience similar things, but we also all experience very different things.
Where one season may seem easier for one mom, it may be extremely difficult for another.
While some moms may love the newborn stage, others can’t wait to get out of it.
Some mothers may deal with postpartum depression and/or anxiety, some may not at all.
And that’s okay.
The truth is, you’re never going to be fully prepared for parenthood.
No matter how much you prepare, no matter how much knowledge you have, no matter how many kids you have, even when you feel like you finally have this mothering thing down, there will always be a new milestone, a new age, a new season, a new challenge — there will be times when even preparation can’t help.
You just learn as you go and do the best you can for you and your family.
Year one felt “easy” for me, but ask me about year two and I can’t say the same.
Ask another mother though, and it will be the opposite.
One thing is true regardless of it all, motherhood is hard —
even when it’s easy.
And please, don’t ever forget, you’re not alone in this thing called motherhood, no matter what your journey is like. ❤