When I was younger, I’d watch Teen Mom on MTV with fascination; the girls, their families, their boyfriends, their choices. Since I had zero experience with newborns, I had zero idea how much of a game changer they were. I’d look at the young mothers and think, okay so they’re just, like, mothers now. They can still do everything they could’ve done before, it just may take longer (measly things like getting their GED and such). They still live at home, right?…How much did their lives change, really?
I sound like a real jerk, to be honest.
I never realized (and I’m not sure why) how different my life would be with a child. It has become beautifully complicated, in the most wonderful way.
And now that I’m here, (and to be fair, with already a leg up, not being a high school drop out from Kentucky) with Ben, and starting to get the hang of this thing, I can dole out some tidbits of my experience. Here’s how I survived the first six weeks of motherhood:
A breast pump bra
Yes, you heard it here first. My son will not latch. Do not roll your eyes, send me advice, or think less of me (I mean, you’re entitled to your opinions, but just respect me, please). I tried, I really did, and I had a hard adjustment period with this one. I so badly wanted the experience of classic breastfeeding. I wanted that bond and that special time with just mother and baby, but alas, this is not my path.
What is my path is a pumping schedule that keeps me in line. Good thing I sent away for my free breast pump through my insurance (this is not a test, ladies. Call your insurance companies, pronto) and learned how to work it three days before I delivered.
What I didn’t know was that I had to hold the “horns” to my breasts for the duration of each session. This is crazy. That’s, like, 30-45 minutes where I can’t use my hands.
My husband came home with a bra the second week of Ben’s life and it is the most useful thing I have in my house right now. It’s even pink.
The very first hour I got to myself after my son was born was on a Friday afternoon, after my husband got home from work early. He watched Ben while I went into the office and did some work for the part time job I am holding onto.
I was unprepared for the euphoria of monotonous office work. The pleasure of using my brain for something else besides guessing what my newborn wanted was not just amazing, but needed.
After those sixty minutes I felt totally refreshed and ready for more diapers, more hungry cries, and more impromptu, settle-down dance parties. I wanted to be back, actually.
I am fortunate enough to go back to work part time and spend the other half raising our baby, but on those days when I’m not at work, I need a side hustle; a project just for me. And that my friends, is what you are reading now. This blog is not only a great outlet for this new chapter of my life, but something that I plan on growing and making more and more successful.
This hustle, part time, full time, or hobby status, will save your sanity. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling leggings, painting landscapes, or making jewelry, just find something that makes you feel like a complete person again and not just a mommy. I have found it’s making me a better one.
Car rides by myself
Speaking of alone time, your car, when driving alone, will become the night club you’ve always wanted to go to and are always invited into as a VIP.
I don’t care if you are driving to the dump, get in that car and crank your radio. It has never felt so good to drive in your LIFE.
I have left the house for mostly doctor’s appointments and let me tell you, I am one happy camper to and from. I’m pretty sure I sang a thank you to the office manager at my OB/GYN’s office last week.
It’s difficult to listen to loud music with a newborn in the house and to be honest, Ben just isn’t into Fleetwood Mac or the Foo Fighters yet. To be able to belt out a few songs in a contained area is bliss.
Bonus mom points if you grab yourself an iced coffee on the way back home…
New clothes that I feel confident wearing
It became clear to me around month six or seven of my pregnancy that I was not going to fit into my clothes, pre-baby.
I online shopped a lot during that last month and bought pretty clothes in larger sizes that I knew I could slip into when I got back home. This prevents many tears and grand expectations. All you’re going to want to feel is pretty again, and this can help.
A velcro swaddle
I had no idea what this was until I received one. I thought swaddling was only for baby Jesus; I didn’t know modern people did this.
So, this nifty little thing tucks the baby’s feet and arms into his sides to mimic the tight quarters of the womb, and it sticks all night with the velcro pieces. Ben’s arms can’t randomly shoot up and hit him in the face or the sides of the bassinet and wake him up.
We have a green one and it makes Ben look like a little pistachio and I can’t get over it every time he goes to bed. We call him Bundle Baby.
I don’t think I’m alone when I say the first couple of weeks of motherhood were completely overwhelming. Not that I’ve got motherhood cracked after six weeks now, but I feel more steady than three of four weeks ago. The biggest part of my confidence now was having family around to help me, particularly my mom.
Having her at my house, even if she was just a spectator for a visit, was (and is) such an enormous help. And now, in the weeks passing, I have family here to help watch Ben for a few hours while I cook dinner or clean the bathroom, or write for this blog.
It’s scary taking home a little life from the hospital for the first time. I didn’t know how to tell the difference between a hungry cry and a tired cry. I didn’t know how to swaddle or un-hook the car seat. Honestly, I didn’t really know Ben that well yet. It takes a little time to get up and running and having another mom there (who, bonus, loves me a whole bunch) is invaluable.
My cell phone
Okay. I know this sounds cliche and possibly annoying, but having a great cell phone that takes good pictures and video is super important.
Before Ben was born, my husband and I would talk about raising our child in an Amish fashion, where technology was hidden and we taught him how to make corn husk dolls or something instead so he wouldn’t become another cog in the wheel.
And then he was born and I’m literally on my cell phone all day, sending pictures to relatives, posting things on social media that Ben does, and staying in contact with my husband.
I want to take all the pictures. I want to shoot all the videos. My dad bought an expensive camcorder in the 80’s when I was born and I am able to see myself as a baby and it’s just the coolest thing. I want that for Ben. I want it for me. I never knew how much I would want to document everything.
So, there it is. I’ve made it six weeks. My mom has told me that as soon as I get used to a certain way of things, it will change and a new challenge will begin. She’s probably right. With the passing of each week I fall deeper and deeper in love with this little boy and even though I know some things will get harder, I can’t wait to see what other joys he brings to my life.