The first year of motherhood is SO hard! And let me tell you, I struggled. Someone told me that things get easier after 1 year and I clung to that. And from what I’ve experienced, it’s true. I also think I might just be more of a toddler person than an infant person. Either way, mom life gets easier after the first year so I'm here to give you a little bit of comfort, some tips to get through the struggles, and some hope for mom life after year one.
Struggling is NORMAL
First of all, if you're struggling, you. are. not. alone.
When you have a newborn, it's like you're living a completely new life. Plus, in the first few weeks, it’s mostly about mom repairing (here's an entire post about repairing after labor). You’re learning how to breastfeed (blog with my breastfeeding tips to make it easier) and do a million other things. PLUS biologically your baby needs YOU so whatever equal work you thought you and your husband could accomplish is out the window.
Also as a mom, you blame yourself for EVERYTHING. She didn't nap today, did I wait too long to put her down? He isn't eating, is he sick? You're constantly wondering what you did wrong. But guess what? Sometimes I don't feel like sleeping, or I'm not hungry at meal time either. So, take a deep breath and give your baby (and yourself) some grace.
Why the first year is so hard
First of all, there are SOOO MANY DECISIONS the first year.
Who is a good pediatrician? Baby led weaning or puree? Do we want to circumcise? Will you do the regular vaccine schedule, delayed, or none at all? Stay at home or go back to work? Daycare or nanny? Breastfeed or formula?… to the most basic of what kind of diapers, what size are they in, and how many do you get. And with mom brain + hormones, these are each individual mountains to concur.
These newborns change to sitters and crawlers and walkers SO FAST. Your baby from 0-3 months is a completely different baby than they are from 3-6 months, 6-9 months and 9-12 months.
After a while, they graduate from the sitting phase to the pull up phase where they can pull themselves up but haven’t quite figured out how to get down, so they’re often trust falling backwards and “bopping” their head on the ground.
Next, they graduate to the crawling phase where you have to make sure the entire house is baby proofed!
Finally, they’re old enough to be fed solid foods and we get to be nervous all over again. What if they choke on something or have an allergy!
Another thing… for some reason people think being a new mom means you also put up a billboard saying “Hey! I have no idea what I'm doing. Please tell me everything I'm doing wrong and how to do it right”. NOPE! I don't remember putting that up and yet everyone one was telling me… you should try this or you shouldn't do that or you're doing that wrong. Thank you, no thank you!
Not to mention being a new parent during COVID. Our babe was born right in the peak of COVID. Do I want my mom's help? YEP! But also…she works in an office. Does that make me extremely hesitant? YEP! So I was often doing things alone.
Overcoming the struggle
I can't emphasize enough how important it is to try and find the positives. You might have had a really bad moment, but that doesn't mean it will be a bad day. During the first year, I was constantly wondering when things would get “back to normal” and when I realized that they wouldn’t and I had to figure out how find myself in this new normal. For me, it was getting some dedicated work time and hiring a babysitter. For you, it might be something totally different, working out, hanging out with friends, classes (outside of the house) for baby. Take some time to figure out what that is and do it.
Also, use your instincts to make all those decisions. Don't listen to what other people think you should and shouldn't do. Follow what your gut says is right for you and your family. And do what works until it doesn't anymore. And sometimes (often) we're going to make the wrong decision. That's ok. Make a change if you need to. You learn as you go, which is another thing that makes mom life easier as time goes on.
It gets easier
Once they get to a year things REALLY start to chill out a bit.
You get the hang of things, there's not quite as many decisions, your hormones start to stabilize (until you wean), babe start communicating with you (I highly recommend teaching them some sign language *my podcast on that here*), their sleep gets a little more consolidated…the list goes on.
Also, some people are just more toddler people and I think that's 1000% me. In the first year they're developing physically, after that they start to develop mentally. (I LOVE Lovevery for non toxic developmental toys) This has its own challenges but to me, more fun. I love that she's exploring things and trying things and learning things and is adventurous and excited and happy. That's really cool and way less stressful for me.
So, overall, when you're struggling, focus on the positive and accept your new normal, and…know that mom life gets easier! You're doing great, Ma.