A good friend of mine is nearing the due date of her first baby. She has read several books, registered at Target, and prepared herself in every way she can think of for the arrival of her sweet baby girl. Now she awaits the big day with pure anticipation.
I often wonder if her experience will be anything like mine. Before the birth of my first babe, I had been alerted by a friend, who’d just had a baby, that I should expect life to be really hard. Her exact words were: “I felt betrayed by my sisters and mom, that they never told me how hard having a baby would be.” And she wasn’t even talking about the delivery. Her details were all about things like engorgement and nursing stress, fatigue and chronic bewilderment, a total loss of any sense of control over her own life. She had never before experienced anything like this new life she’d signed herself up for.
Sure enough, I understood all that she said–as soon as I experienced it for myself. To her list I would add feelings of loneliness, a sense that I had to shoulder the burden myself, and utter incompetence. I even scheduled an extra doctor’s appointment, at three weeks, just so I could have a 30 minute mental break, where someone else could be the “expert” on how to take care of my baby! The unrelenting dependence of that tiny creature seemed more than I could bear.
Thankfully, I did adjust eventually, and now five years and three children later, I’m happy to report that I no longer find newborn babies to be intimidating. In fact, I think they are divine. The sweetest part of my life. (But five year olds…?)
There are so many new, uncomfortable feelings and unique struggles that can come along with a first baby. Can a new mother ever really know what awaits her? Is there anything we could say to a new mom to prepare her, both for success and for stress? What helped you the most? What might have helped you, if you had known what you know now?
QUESTION: What words of wisdom would you offer a first-time mom?
CHALLENGE: If you know someone who is having their first baby, give her a call and share some knowledge.