Becoming a mother totally qualifies as culture shock in my book. The other day, I was talking with a friend who is also a new mother and she is not single but we both agreed on some things that are difficult and that we wished someone had filled us in on. Here are 5 things we wished someone had told us when we were pregnant.
1. When you have a newborn you will not only be too tired to cook, you will be too tired to even know what you are hungry for. Plan your meals now – start a Meal Train and invite anyone who asks how they can help, make a months (or two!) worth of freezable meals, stock up on snacks to eat while nursing, compile a list of easy meals and healthy food delivery. It’s too hard to think this stuff up when you are tired.
2. People will tell you it “feels funny” the first time you walk after giving birth. “Feels funny???!!!” How about: your pelvic floor will be dangling between your legs. Let’s be honest people. I feel really burned on this one for some reason.
3. You will need help. I don’t care how independent you are or have been your whole life. You will need help. Start building your community now. If you don’t have super-involved friends or family – hire a postpartum doula (they really know what they are doing). Take people up on their offers to help (this is easier if you keep a running list of things people can help with. When you are so tired all you can think to say is “…uhhh. umm. uhhh…”). I would tell any new mom – especially single ones – to hire a postpartum doula to come by a few days per week and have help overnight (a friend or doula) once per week. New doulas are often willing to volunteer or work for a low fee as they gain experience. And let me tell you – those ladies know their shizzz.
4. Some of your friends might seem to be punishing you for having a baby. Maybe “punish” isn’t the right word but they won’t treat you the same. They might leave you out of things and events, they might not ask you how you are, might not respond to your texts and emails as quickly or with as much interest as they used to, they might treat you like you are their mother (and this is not always pretty), they might think you are incapable of being interested in anything besides the baby. Becoming a mother might feel very gradual for you but to some you are instantly an entirely different person. You might as well rename yourself. It’s often more pronounced if they have not had a child. So I guess you can’t really blame them. I now know I have been a perpetrator of these things in the past. You learn something new every day. I hereby apologize publicly.
5. It can be really hard to go back to work. Whether it’s because you and the baby are inseparable, your stitches/breasts/back/fill-in-the-blank still hurts, you still can’t walk normally, you don’t have childcare you are totally comfortable with, you haven’t slept more than a two hour stretch in months, your co-workers are now insufferable, you now find your work meaningless. Etc. Etc. Etc. For one reason or another it can be really hard to get back in that game. Now is a good time to brainstorm some ideas on how to either stretch your recovery time or make a career change. Hats off to those who go back happily and with ease. I’m truly jealous.
Oh! Shhnap! I forgot a couple of things we though of! Here are two bonus tips:
- Don’t expect to be late! As in past your due date. Plan to be 2 weeks early. Get as much done by then as possible. It’s really a myth that most first time moms go past their due dates.
- If you live in a state where you can sign up for leave before your due date: do it! Yeah, it’s great to make all the money you can before the baby comes and the pregnancy leave money is not as much as you would make at work. Buuuuut, trust us, you need to sleep as much as gawdamn possible before you give birth. I didn’t know about this (I swear California makes it purposely confusing) and it still stings.
Despite all of this, someone still loves you anyway…
And gawdamn he used to sleep a lot.