Baby’s First Year: A Mental Survival Guide

Becoming a parent can be crazy and overwhelming. One minute you’re at home watching TV on the couch, and then the next day you have a baby in your arms and your whole world has turned upside down. Your norm is no longer your norm. Your whole life suddenly revolves around this little squishy potato that you love more than anything. Your emotions are everywhere, and you can’t figure out how you’re going to make it through your baby’s first year of life.

Well friends I’m here to tell you that everything is going to be okay. My twins are 16 months old now, and I still remember the day we brought them home. My husband and I looked at each other and said “Now what?” We thought their first year was going to never end, but we made it! I’m going to share with you a few things that I learned during our twin’s first year of life.

DO NOT COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHER MOMS

I learned this right off the bat. Yes, it is okay for you to join mom Facebook groups. Yes, it’s okay to ask questions, but don’t put yourself down if your baby or your recovery differs from other moms. So what is Sharon’s back down to her post pregnancy weight a month after her baby was born. Everyone’s bodies are going to heal differently. Also, who cares if you cosleep while your other friends baby is sleeping through the night in their own crib. You do things that make your life easier, and if that means baby is sleeping right next to you, so be it!

MAKE SURE YOU EAT AND DRINK

I had a hard time with this one. I was constantly breastfeeding so I never got off of my couch for the first 6 months. I always forgot to eat, unless someone reminded me or brought me something. I suggest setting timers on your phone telling you to get something to munch on. Your days will FLY BY, and before you know it it’s 3 o’clock in the afternoon and you haven’t even had breakfast yet. Also, keep snacks EVERYWHERE. Anything that is easy to grab like nuts, chips, trail mix just store those by your sitting places, bed, nursery, etc. You definitely won’t regret it! Especially if your hungry mid baby feed!

DON’T WORRY ABOUT HAVING BABY OR YOURSELF ON A STRICT SCHEDULE (IN THE BEGINNING)

People tell you right away how often you should be nursing or changing your baby’s diaper. They start you in the hospital (at least the did with me). They gave me a sheet of paper and told me to write down the times of when I would start and stop breastfeeding or pumping, or when baby pooped or peed. As soon as I got home this all got harder. Not only did I need to remember to eat and sleep, but I also needed to keep track of baby’s schedule too?! By month 2 I started nursing my twins on demand, and stopped keeping track of soiled diapers. (My babies were healthy and growing right on track. If your pediatrician does decide that you need to keep track of these things because there is a problem with your baby PLEASE DO AS THE DOCTOR ASKS!) My life became so much easier with a few less things to stress about.

DON’T BE EMBARRASSED OR AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP

Sometimes it takes more than two hands to handle a baby. Sometimes you can’t get baby to stop crying, you’ve tried everything but nothing seems to help. It’s okay to hand your baby off to someone else. Sometimes baby just needs a change of scenery. Don’t feel bad or like a failure because you need help. Yes, you are Super Woman, but sometimes even super heroes need a sidekick. Call your mom, your husband, a friend, your father in law, heck call your neighbor! Most people would rush over to help a new mom out!

IT’S OKAY TO CRY

Girl, let those tears fall! Those hormones you thought would go away after giving birth are still rearing their ugly heads. Plus, I cannot stress enough: BEING A NEW MOM IS HARD! Do not hold back those emotions, you are still strong regardless of how many bathroom shower breakdowns you have. I was 3 weeks postpartum when I realized something was wrong with my mental state. I was diagnosed with postpartum depression, and I am still on antidepressants 16 months later. If you think you are suffering from postpartum depression, please talk to your doctor and ask for help. Postpartum depression is normal, and lots of women suffer from it. There are ways to get help.

ENJOY YOUR ALONE TIME WITH YOUR BABY

I’m going to tell you right now: EVERYONE IS GOING TO WANT TO COME OVER AND SNUGGLE YOUR BABY. We had a lot of people asking to visit, but we would ask them to only stay for a hour tops. Not only were we exhausted, but hosting people is difficult when you’re running on little sleep and constantly breastfeeding. Take these moments while they are little and cherish them. This is bonding time for your baby and your family. You are not a bad person if you tell people that you don’t want visitors. This is your time to figure out how to function as a new family. There will be plenty of time to have people come over later.

ENJOY ANY ALONE TIME YOU GET WITH YOUR SPOUSE

I still remember when I finally got a chance to just cuddle with my husband in our bed for the first time since our twins had been born. It was MAGICAL! (We slept on the couch in our living room until they were 2 months old.) We didn’t have a whole lot of time to ourselves in the beginning. It’s great when you finally get two minutes to cuddle with each other. It makes you feel whole again. Take those moments in. Stay off your phone and just lay with your spouse. Also, if someone offers to watch your baby so you can get out of the house for even an hour TAKE IT. Go for a drive, go out to dinner, talk! You won’t have a whole lot of alone moments, so take in every minute you can to be alone with each other.

TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF

This. This is the difficult part of being a new mom. Yes, your baby is your world, and you want to be the best mom you can be, but taking a moment for yourself can be so mentally helpful. I loved taking long showers, or just stepping outside for a moment, especially after I had been alone all day with our babies. Being selfish is okay. You do so much for your baby on a daily basis, it’s okay to do something for yourself. Even if it means going to Target and window shopping. DO IT! Your partner will understand, and they will be okay by themself with baby for 30 minutes or a hour.

I really hope that these tips are helpful for you as a new mom or parent. Remember: taking care of a newborn is difficult, but you can do it! Cherish these moments. Our babies grow up too quickly.

For more information about Postpartum Depression please visit:

www.womenshealth.gov

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