Pregnancy and childbirth are often the main focus when someone announces that they're going to become a parent. Both are important, to be sure, but as a result the whole post-pregnancy time in a new mom's life is largely overlooked. So I guess I shouldn't be surprised that there are things I wish I'd known about my first six months postpartum; things no one talked about, warned me about, or simply acknowledged. That's not how it should be, though, especially since postpartum is when moms need the most support.
I was an optimistic soon-to-be mom, and have to admit that I viewed postpartum life with a glass-half-full mentality. Then I left the hospital with this tiny little person I was completely responsible for, and suddenly I felt terrified and overwhelmed. I had no idea what to do, or how to do it, and with a baby who refused to sleep I barely had enough energy to survive let alone find my bearings. Before I knew it, I felt like an alien living on a new planet with a strange person I just met.
So, no, those first six postpartum months were nothing like I had imagined. And since people often overlook mom the moment that newborn comes into the picture, it was difficult for me to articulate what I needed or how I felt. As a society we need to care for moms long after their babies leave their bodies, people. So with that in mind, here's what I wish I had known about those first six postpartum months:
You'll Never Be Completely Prepared
It's impossible to adequately prepare for parenthood. No matter how may baby books you read or classes you attend or research you throw yourself into, something unexpected will happen and you'll feel completely unprepared.
So, yes, I was happy that I had a baby, but I was also constantly feeling as though I didn't prepare for that baby enough. I wish I would've known that this feeling is pretty typical, and not at all a reflection of my ability to be a parent.
Time Will Cease To Matter
I wish I had known that my postpartum life would turn into one long, seeming endless blur of days that I couldn't decipher between or distinguish. There were times when I had no idea if it was the daytime or nighttime, and it really didn't matter because my life revolved around poop, pee, and feeding a newborn. I had no idea how traumatic it would be to lose all sense of space and time.
Staying Home All The Time Isn't Always Pleasant
The idea of essentially hibernating with my infant sounded nice... in theory. But when I was stuck at home and handling a seemingly endless loop of baby-related tasks I started to miss the "real world." Before I knew it I was craving adult interaction, and needed to get out of my house so I could remember what the sun felt like.
Your Friends Will Disappear
For the most part, your friends will understand that a baby comes with a lot of needs that you have to tend to immediately. They won't bug you at home (unless you ask) and they won't hold it against if you if you have to cancel plans.
But it's still odd to go for days, weeks, or even months at a time without seeing your friends, especially if they live nearby. I wish I had known that I would feel abandoned, even when my friends were just trying to give me the space to adjust to motherhood.
Your Relationship Will Change
Yes, I knew my relationship would take a backseat for a while after having a baby, and I knew that parenthood would change our relationship dynamic. I just had no idea how big of a change that would be, and how long my relationship would stop coming first.
If you're not careful, it's easy to wake up one day and feel like you have a roommate instead of a romantic partner. I wish I had known that, eventually, I needed to push my relationship back to the forefront and focus on my partner and what we needed, too.
You'll Miss Your Pre-Baby Life
That's not to say that you'll regret having a baby, but damn if I didn't reminisce on a pretty regular basis about my pre-baby life. It's easy to feel like you've made a big life mistake when you're sleep deprived, sore from childbirth, struggling to keep up with the demands of postpartum life, and feeling less and less like yourself.
How Painful Post-Pregnancy Life Is
I knew childbirth would hurt, but OMG why didn't anyone warn me that my entire body would hurst post-birth? Muscles hurt that I had no idea even existed. I felt like I was hit by a truck, I was constantly bleeding, walking and sitting and standing hurt, and I was deathly afraid to go to the bathroom.
Labor and delivery is painful, yes, but so is postpartum life.
I'd Constantly Be Reminded Of My Abilities
To be honest, I didn't always feel like a great mom. In fact, more often than not I felt like I was failing my newborn; like she would've been better off with someone who knew what they were doing.
But every day that I was postpartum I was reminded of my capabilities. Sure, sometimes I felt like I was drowning, but even on the hardest days I was able to take care of my baby and myself. There was no denying that even when I felt unworthy, I was the mom my baby needed.