My daughter did not want to leave the cozy abode I created for her. After a week past her due date, the doctors decided it was time to induce. I spent 15 hours in labor, and almost three hours actively pushing, until I was finally able to meet my baby girl. Excited and nervous, I cradled her in my arms and promised I would never let go. Now my daughter is almost 9, and I'm still in shock that I made it through the 30 days of motherhood. Because honestly, the first month of motherhood is definitely the hardest several weeks if parenting I've ever had. To be fair, the first few weeks of motherhood isn't really parenting: it was survival.
The first month of motherhood was probably the most difficult few weeks I've had in my entire life. Sure, every parenting milestone has its own hardships, but those first few weeks are unlike any other. The constant struggle of dealing with a newborn, especially one like mine, was not only intense, but shocking. No one could have even set my expectation for what it was ultimately like. I, like most new moms, was thrown into completely unfamiliar territory of life and had to fight my way through and out.
The first 30 days was like a fight for survival, and while I definitely volunteered as tribune, I didn't feel like I was adequately prepared to go up against sleep deprivation, breastfeeding struggles, and a baby that hates sleep. If my life were a novel, I'd be the protagonist versus the world. And in the story of my life, those few months were my storm. A dark, powerful, damaging storm. Luckily, we all made it out alive, barely scathed and much stronger for it. With that in mind, and because it pays to be even slightly prepared, here's why the first 30 days of motherhood are the most difficult to endure:
I don't know why the world thinks it's funny to tell mothers that breastfeeding is this super natural and easy thing to do, because in my experience that is a huge lie. The amount of pressure I put on myself to breastfeed almost sent me into a downward spiral of depression. I agonized about trying to feed my newborn, who wanted nothing to do with my breast. We were both hysterical for days until I finally gave up and started pumping.
In addition to everything you're going through emotionally, you're bleeding, sore, and cramping. Your breasts are leaking, your vagina aching, and your entire body feels like a truck ran it over. Repeatedly. The stress headaches, and exhaustion, and the sleep-deprivation all wreak havoc on the new mom within the first few weeks. Once your body heals, things do get easier. I, however, didn't take proper care of myself right away, and developed a hematoma, which slowed down my healing and made everything much more painful.
More women are now speaking out about post baby blues (and more seriously, postpartum depression), and, ironically, that makes me really happy. Not that long ago, I had no idea those were even a "thing." I just thought I was a horrible new mom who couldn't feel happiness about being a mom. I just dismissed my feelings of pure sadness as my own damage, which is pretty hurtful to a new mom. But, yes, baby blues is something most new moms go through, thanks to the hormonal dump that happens shortly after birth. It's very common and it's very normal, but it still doesn't make the first few months any easier.
No one can prepare you for motherhood. No matter how many stories you hear, no matter how many friends you have who are mothers, no matter what, you will have no idea what that first month is like until you are there. So it can all be a little bit of a shock, and definitely takes some getting use to.
My daughter didn't want to sleep lying down, so either my husband or I would hold her upright on our shoulder and walk back and forth in the nursery until she'd fall asleep. Then, we'd be able to sit down and rest while she slept on us. Falling asleep wasn't an option because of constant fear of dropping the baby.
As a new mom, you're afraid of everything. Literally everything. Driving home from the hospital I realized that I was now responsible for the life of another human being. Nothing really makes you realize that like that first drive with a newborn. You are suddenly way more aware of how horrible everyone drives and you just want to wrap your car and your baby in bubblewrap and write "fragile" on her. I was scared of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), jaundice, colic, toxic chemicals in plastic, driving, eating, and germs. Basically, I was afraid of everything.
My daughter had colic and acid reflux and didn't sleep at night. I didn't know that much of what we were going through was normal. I didn't realize that jaundice was a condition that many newborns were born with and that it was easily treatable with a few sessions with the Wallaby. In fact, there was a lot I didn't know, and everything I didn't know made it that much harder to not lose my mind every step of the way. I was distraught most of the time during the first month of my daughter's life, and it definitely took a toll on my mental health.
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