New Moms Are Liars
New moms are liars. Ask me how I know? I have been one of them. I AM one of them. And I’ve lied every… single… time.
Here’s the scenario.
Along comes a new mom with a brand new baby. Oh how adorable! Your baby is so cute! And then…
We ask the new mom, “How are you doing?”
And then she says something like this, “We’re good!”
Pressed further, she might say, “this “fill in the blank little thing” is hard, but we’re doing fine.”
I don’t believe you. You, my friend, are a liar. Here’s how I know.
This new mom that we’re talking to is a whole new person. The woman that used to be pregnant? She isn’t there anymore. That other lady died. In her place is a brand new person.
The mom of two kids? Yeah, that’s not her anymore. She’s a whole new person as a mom of three.
A New Person in a New World
On top of being a new person, the world she lives in is different. Everything has changed!
The lens she uses to look at the whole world is different. Her daily routine is different. The food she’s eating is different. She speaks a different language. She meets new people who speak that same language… it’s like she’s in a different country.
What she’s experiencing is like culture shock, but for mothers. It’s called MOTHER SHOCK.
And it happens every. single. time she has a baby.
Expect the Unexpected
Here’s the deal. No matter how awesome of a woman/mother/wife she is, nothing is going to go perfectly. It’s impossible! When it comes to having children, it’s best to expect to be challenged.
Despite what social media is portraying, having a baby is not always glamorous, exciting, fun, easy, romantic, adorable, and precious… you get the idea.
Things will come up that will be difficult for you, your partner and your family.
Curious as to what could be difficult? Here are some potential postpartum stressors.
That cute little baby’s diaper won’t change itself! Between the diapers, laundry, spit up and other bodily fluids flying everywhere, we’ve got our work cut out for us.
Breastfeeding is a natural thing but it doesn’t always come naturally. I mean, that’s why there are lactation consultants out there, for goodness sake. And even if things are going well, lactating is a fulltime job! Feeding your new tiny person requires a lot of determination, energy and patience.
Physical Recovery from Birth
After birth pains, hemorrhoids, stitches, swelling and bruising are common complaints after a normal vaginal delivery. Many moms are recovering from surgery as well.
Emotional Recovery from Birth
Hello hormonal fluctuations. Ever cried and laughed at the same time? It’s exhausting, slightly hilarious, and very confusing for everyone involved.
Stretch marks, flub and flab, OH MY! This might not be such a big issue until… you try to get dressed. Maternity clothes aren’t working anymore, but you don’t fit into your old clothes either. Perhaps you hadn’t thought about what postpartum clothes to wear once baby came.
What day is it? Not completing a full sleep cycle (over and over again) makes people snippy, air-headed, and depressed. Did you know that sleep deprivation is a way of torturing people? Yeah…
FYI my baby slept through the night for the first couple months of her life. After that? Not so much. So even if it seems like you have a “good baby”, the sleep deprivation might still be on its way.
Marriage after baby changes too. Read my post on that over here for my personal experience with this postpartum stressor.
While mom’s on bedrest (YES! She needs to be on bedrest!), who is taking over her daily chores? Often it’s nobody, because partner is exhausted, doing their own work, and helping out with the baby as well. I don’t know about you, but a cluttered house stresses me out.
Again, while on bedrest, who is cooking the nutritious meals that the new family needs? Getting nutritious food on the table consistently is a challenge and can be stressful. (Always grateful for my freezer full of meals.)
Visitors, especially those that are available for an extended period of time, can be so helpful. However sometimes, some visitors, can cause stress in the home (especially if they are family). Most are well meaning, but it still can be hard.
When parents have a new baby, the flow of money is typically disrupted. Some people are on unpaid leave and some people quit their jobs altogether.
Sibling and/or Household Pet Adjustment
Even Rover might be struggling.
Or you might be pissed at Rover. Doesn’t Rover know to not bark when the baby’s sleeping? Doesn’t Rover know to not bark when the doorbell rings? Don’t people know to not ring the dang doorbell!
Don’t Freak Out
I wrote that long list not to scare you, but rather validate you in your postpartum transition. So many things are different, new, and potentially stressful when a new baby joins the family.
Life with a new baby is HARD.
Not only are things more difficult, but there’s an expectation that we new moms should carry on as normal. That we should be able to pick up where we left off.
That we should have it all together.
Mothers are expected to go back to work quickly. Partner’s go back to work quickly. Meals from the community stop quickly, or maybe they never even began.
New mothers are expected to figure out this whole new mother thing. And quickly.
And if we don’t figure it out quickly? Don’t bounce back by 2 (or 6) weeks postpartum? We feel like we are failing at this whole mom thing.
(Pay attention to what you’re telling yourself. I call these words and phrases a “head tape”.)
“I’m so overwhelmed.”
“Why can’t I keep it together?”
“What’s wrong with me?”
“Why is nobody struggling like I am?”
“I’m so alone.”
“I’m a bad mom.”
“I’m failing as a mom.”
New Mothers Need New Skills
Ok, so this new woman, this new mother, maybe she needs to learn some new skills. With any new job comes a new skillset, and new mothers aren’t exempt. Here are three things new mothers need to learn.
- Admit Vulnerability – Here lies one of the problems. Many moms can’t or won’t admit that they can no longer “do all the things”. Expose yourself, at the relief of all the other new moms, and tell yourself that you can’t do it on your own.
- Ask for Help – Here lies another one of the problems. Many moms can’t or won’t ask for help. It is so engrained in us that asking for help is a sign of weakness. Well… what if it is? Maybe we are not strong enough to do it on our own? Find a friend or family member and ask them for help. Ask them to make you a meal, do some laundry, and watch an older child. HIRE A POSTPARTUM DOULA.
- Accept Help – Here lies an additional problem. Many moms won’t accept help. People may be begging to do something for a new mom, but she says no. Maybe she doesn’t want to inconvenience anybody, or maybe she thinks their help would not be in fact, helpful. But for whatever reason, we moms have a hard time accepting help. If this is you, be brave and accept help. Maybe it won’t be perfect, and it likely won’t, but by doing this you will be helping fix the dynamic of postpartum adjustment in our society.
Start Practicing in Pregnancy
Learning new things can be challenging during the postpartum period. So why not practice these things while pregnant? Here are some suggestions.
- Admit Vulnerability: Say to yourself, “I am growing a new life, a new person in my body. I cannot continue on as normal. I can’t do everything alone. Today I am letting go of the belief that I can do everything by myself.”
- Ask for Help: An example of practicing asking for help during pregnancy may be to initiate a shift in household responsibilities. Maybe instead of paying the bills independently of your partner you now start teaching them to do it on their own. Or maybe it’s time they learned Rover’s routine.
- Accept Help: An example of practicing accepting help in pregnancy may be to say yes when the bagger at the grocery store offers to take the groceries out to the car. Now, for my non-southern readers, this might be shocking, but at certain grocery stores baggers TAKE THE GROCERIES TO YOUR CAR AND THEN PUT THEM IN YOUR CAR. Now, as an independent, childless woman I never took them up on the offer. Why in the world would I do that? (Don’t touch my stuff.) However, when I was pregnant, it felt good to not have to do all that work. As difficult as it may be, enjoy the help, ladies!
Where are you?
Now, to the people who are not in this intense season of life. To those who have not yet stepped over this threshold, or those who have already gone through it. WHERE ARE YOU?
Teenagers, young adults and older women… WHERE ARE YOU?
It’s near impossible for me, as a mother of tiny people, to help other mothers of tiny people. What happens if two drowning people try to save the other from drowning? They both drown.
Recently I got a call from a friend with a new baby, asking for help (AMAZING! SHE ASKED FOR HELP!!), but sadly I couldn’t help her in the way she needed. I referred her to a lactation counselor, which hopefully will be part of her solution.
Where are the other women in different stages of life? Why are they not helping us new mothers out?
To the older women: Were you not once in our same shoes? Wasn’t it hard to do it alone? We need help. Please help us!
To the mothers of teenagers: What better way to teach your children about serving others in a unique season of life than helping new moms. A “mother’s helper” is always a prized commodity in my circles. She can even make a little cash in the process.
To the college student and young professionals: When I was in college I remember helping out a new mom. One day, after visiting her and her new baby, told her I would help her out at any time. She didn’t take me up on it until I expressed my sincerity and told her I would even ride in the car with her so she could run into the grocery store or the drug store all by herself. My availability and ability to “hop in the car and pop over” complemented her new role as mother. I’m so glad I was able to help her out! It seemed easy and simple to me, but I’m guessing for her on that day it was very helpful.
It’s just hard.
Before I end this post, I want to add one more thing.
Some people ask me what they can do to have an easier postpartum. In this post and in others on this blog, I think I’ve shared some really good ideas. But sometimes, I think, we just can’t avoid pain, discomfort and hardship. No matter what, sometimes we will go through hard seasons of life and circumstances.
If this is you, if you’re experiencing hard times, consider one of these bible verses for new moms:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4
I remember after having Mercy, when I was struggling big time with seemingly everything, especially in my marriage, repeating this verse to myself. It seemed almost hysterical, to consider my hard times JOY.
I shared with some friends, with an uneasy laugh and a twitchy eye, that I was considering it pure joy that I was experiencing trials of many kinds. Ha!
Despite my doubts, I kept repeating it to myself, believing this truth. That this hardship, this testing of my faith, would give me perseverance and therefore maturity. That my character would be built.
This gave me comfort. That this pain was not in vain. That it was actually GOOD. That my hard time was going to be redeemed.
If you’re a new mom, and you’re having a hard time… I get you. I see you, and I get it.
I hope you are able to take a few things from this post, and find encouragement. I hope you don’t feel like you’re doing this alone.
And if you ever find yourself wondering why none of the other new moms are struggling like you just remember… New moms are liars.
PS – Thank goodness babies are cute and smell delicious.