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Magical fluff comments from others about the newborn stage VS. reality

Updated: Mar 1

People gush over babies. Rightfully so, they’re adorable, fascinating, miraculous, etc. But those who have had children who are gushing so hard, so often forget about the many details that are involved with postpartum and looking after a newborn. And those who haven’t had children have no f&*$ing clue what it’s really, really like and they likely have a cliche, hollywood narrative about what it's like to have a baby and be a parent. As a result, it leaves new parents feeling unseen, alone in their experience, shocked at the reality of parenting a newborn.

Pregnancy and its later stages bring it's own set of challenges: getting ready to give birth when your belly is so heavy, the skin hurts from the stretching, you can’t sit or lay down comfortably, you’re not able to sleep, your mind is constantly running to prepare for the birth and postpartum, your hips, feet and back hurt, you’re trying to get your unborn child on a waitlist for daycare, you’re still needing to work even though it’s incredibly difficult to stay focused without napping throughout the day.

The thought of the actual giving birth part of this process is overwhelming for most of us. Giving birth is WILD. It’s the biggest challenge to “get into the zone” and cope with the feelings and sensations throughout labour - and our society and health system, sadly, do not help much when it comes to building confidence in our bodies and our capabilities to birth our babies - but this is for a future blog post.

Then the newborn stage…. I can’t express more….those who have done it before flat out forget and those who have never done it before have zero. f#$&ing. clue.

A few examples of the details many forget or don't know about: the struggle for you and baby to learn about how to breastfeed, the pain and emotions that come with that. Your body healing from your episiotomy/c-section/your womb slowly going back to it's pre-baby size, the post-birth bleeding, anxiety and shock of the lack of sleep, shock of realizing you have baby now in your arms from the womb, overwhelm of getting to know your baby's needs, feeding yourself, realizing and adapting to the changes in your relationship dynamic, and many many more.

For most of us, we don't feel gushy and in bliss immediately postpartum. The love is definitely there, like the kind of love where it scares you how much love you have for this adorable, incredibly vulnerable thing that is your, and only your, responsibility. The gratitude is there for having this gorgeous baby that you finally get to hold and get to know. But the feelings of pure joy that are only able to be felt when you're relaxed and have the capacity isn't necessarily being felt very often right now because you're so focussed on the many new and important things you need to do. Postpartum life is BUSY. For most of us, the feelings of joy that come with the love we have for our newborn baby only come hindsight. Months and months (or perhaps even years) down the road. Because what is also going on during your pregnancy, birth and postpartum is anxiety around the unknown, anxiety about your whether baby is surviving and thriving, discomforts in your body, your mind sifting through everything you need to do at lightning speed, at all times of the day.

You may have snippets of thinking “I’m so grateful to have my sweet, sweet baby” and feeling some joy from thoughts like that, but that thought and accompanying feelings are often quickly interrupted by the urgency of everything you have to do for your baby.

So when these people (who, yes, they mean well) say anything about what you’re going through (for example “it’s such a magical time”, “it’s so precious”, “take in this time, it’s the best time of your life”, “when you hold them for the first time, there’s nothing like it”, blah blah.) These things are true and you are aware of this when it's happening but when you’re in the thick of it, there’s WAY MORE that’s going on. And when all you hear is the magical fluffy stuff, it makes you wonder if you're missing something or doing something wrong. You're not. It honestly is just that others simply forget OR aren't comfortable being super honest about the difficult stuff. It may also be that most people aren't great at confronting the difficult stuff in their lives in an honest way.

Some of the stresses that accompany the gratitude (because both can be true at the same time!):

Your body hurts, you don’t know if your baby is getting milk when you nurse and that’s extremely stressful, does your baby have acid reflux? What does the noise they’re making mean? Are they hungry? Why aren’t they sleeping? How are they feeling? Are they cold? Are they hot? Are they happy? How do they feel post birth? Your stitches from the episiotomy or cesarean are still healing so it hurts and is hard to move. It’s hard to remember to drink and feed yourself when you’re so focussed on your baby. You’re wondering if you’re doing it right, or well enough for your baby. Others are texting and calling you, you’re feeling guilty not texting them back or you’re being overwhelmed with all the messages. It’s impossible to keep the house tidy and you’re worried about judgment from others. It’s hard to keep up with all the feedings (nursing, giving bottles, sanitizing bottles, burping baby, changing diapers, etc.), If your baby has health issues, you’re worried, additional stresses you never had to think of now come into play. The tasks, the worries never. end.

This is what others forget or aren’t thinking about when they say only the dreamy things to you. They might as well just say nothing at all because of how much they’re missing from the real picture. It leaves the mother/parents feeling alone and wondering if she/they are the only ones that struggle.

The real answer through, is that everyone struggles with these things.

Don’t let others fool you.

Even the ones that have had multiple children and you think that they for sure know what’s it’s like so you’ll decide to listen to them and expect that they’re telling the truth - They might think that they’re telling the truth but it still might very well be ignorance. Literally, if anyone only tells you “dreamy” things about the perinatal process, it’s not really real. It’s them reflecting back and only remembering good things because of where they are at in the process - which is far far away from where you are at. They simply forget. And THAT’s the truth.

Want to know where you can find people who really, really get it? Other moms who are at the stage you are at. That’s where you’ll really get to know that you’re not alone. Others struggling right alongside you feeling alone in their homes wondering if they are the only ones struggling. If you look, you will find many moms that are willing to tell you about their struggles too and it will give you a sense of sweet, sweet solidarity and you’ll know that you’re not the exception and that it’s all just part of the beautiful, crazy, motherhood journey.

It's better when experienced together (with those we trust).

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