Newborns are, well, a handful. They come into our lives like chubby little wrecking balls, taking us all by surprise with their incredible ability of shaking things up. Meeting your baby after 40 weeks (give or take) of waiting is really incredible. Truly, it is. That said, people need to stop romanticizing the newborn months. Trust me when I say that once the initial amazement is over, real life with a newborn actually begins.
Now, how can I accurately describe the newborn month while resisting the urge to hide under the bed in the fetal position until this article writes itself? Well, imagine you and your partner alone, hanging out watching a movie on the couch. You're eating snacks, you're laughing together, you're cuddling, and maybe you're even getting a little frisky. Now erase all of that from your memory and imagine non-stop bloodcurdling screaming, tripping over baby gear, stubbing your toes on baby furniture that wasn't there a month ago, struggling to stay awake, trying not to die from physical pain and physical and mental exhaustion, crying, fighting, arguing, and all while trying to keep a newborn alive and well. I bet you're wondering what happened to that lovely movie scenario, huh? Yeah, it's gone. You'll be too tired to snuggle. That is immediate postpartum life for many new parents.
So yes, while the first few days may feel so dreamy and sweet — cradling that new baby in your arms, inhaling that newborn smell, adjusting to the bittersweet tastes of motherhood — the first few months can be slightly hellish. Now, I'm not saying everyone has the same experience, because of course that's not the case. In fact, I had two totally different experiences with each one of my kids. My second baby was a breeze compared to my first. I am saying, however, we should be cautious of how we discuss the first few months postpartum because romanticizing something that can often be so difficult places unnecessary pressure upon mothers.
Because Of The Baby Blues
According to the American Pregnancy Association, approximately 70 to 80 percent of all new mothers experience baby blues. Baby blues happen pretty much right after the baby comes home. New mothers may feel sad, angry, remorseful, and overall miserable.
Personally, the baby blues made me regret having a child, and that regret made me feel even worse. I cried often, and usually when I was alone. I didn't want anyone to know how I felt because it seemed so wrong. None of it was sweet or rewarding. It all felt overwhelming.
Because Of The Colic
It is nearly impossible to console a colicky baby. According to the American Pregnancy Association, colic starts about two weeks into the baby's life and can last for up to 12 weeks. While some experts believe colic affects all babies, others say about 20-25 percent of babies actually have colic.
My first child had colic and acid reflux. I honestly thought I was going to end up committed, because I really was losing my mind. My husband and I spent the first few months of our daughter's life holding her upright and walking with her nonstop. If we'd stop moving, she'd start crying. It was hell. Hell, I tell ya.
Because Of The Exhaustion
After the baby arrives, sleep becomes a thing of the past. Yes, you may get a few hours with in a 24 hour period, but that's on a good day. Since our bodies require sleep to function, the lack of sleep makes everything worse. The first few months postpartum are exhausting. Running on no sleep and dealing with a newborn is truly tough. Nothing about it feels great.
Because Of Breastfeeding
There is a ton of pressure to breastfeed, but no one tells mothers how difficult breastfeeding can actually be. So, while the mounting pressure feels suffocating emotionally, the physical pain of breastfeeding can be excruciating. Breastfeeding did not come easy to me, and does not come easy to many moms. Still, it's something many of us want to so badly do, so we torture ourselves until we figure it out or until we just give up (after which we blame ourselves).
Because Of The Hormones
According to Christina G. Hibbert, a clinical psychologist specializing in women's mental health, the "hormone levels in a woman's body are 20-30 times greater than normal" during pregnancy. Then, after delivery, the levels drop significantly, and the sudden drop causes a direct shift in mood, sometimes causing depression and extreme mood swings. The out-of-control feelings many new moms have postpartum definitely do not feel fantastic, even if they are totally normal.
Because Of The Arguments
Lack of sleep and a fussy baby make for very cranky parents. When emotions are at their most unstable, and when each parent feels like he or she should be the one to take the extra nap or some time off, arguments become most common. Mothers and their partners may argue way more in the first few months postpartum than ever before. Our bodies can only effectively process stress and anxiety when they are well-rested, otherwise all of those emotions end up in a blowout.
Because Everything Hurts
Your vagina hurts. Your boobs hurt. Your stomach hurts. Your back hurts. Your head, your face, your legs, and your arms hurt. Everything hurts. I felt like I was drained in every possible way. I felt like a shell of a human being, going through the motions. I was on autopilot without ever having proper pilot training.
Because Of All Of The Changes
So much changes when the baby arrives. It is true: your life is never ever the same ever again. While change is a natural occurrence in life, this major change wreaks havoc on your life for a little bit. A tornado of emotions with shrapnel of baby gear fills the house and scatters your life, and all you are doing is trying to survive.
So, there is very little need for exaggerated romanticism in the first few months postpartum. There is a lot of uncertainty and a lot of misplaced feelings, but there's truly nothing romantic about it at all. However, once it's all over (and it does pass), you do get to enjoy your baby and your new life.