Here’s What NOT to Say to a New Mom

As you may know if you’ve read my most recent blog posts, my baby girl just turned one year old.  It is true what they say: time flies even faster when you’re a parent, as cliche as that may be.  Anyhow, I’ve been contemplating this post for months now & I am finally getting around to writing it.  Let me preface it by saying that if you are reading this & realize you are guilty of saying any of the following things to me, please don’t feel bad or worry that I hate you.  I don’t.  Trust me.first bithday cartoon

So without further ado, here are some things I really wish people would stop saying to new moms.  And just to be clear, when I say new moms I mean in the first 3 months or so because that is the time during which I think these questions are particularly absurd- &, strangely enough, when they seem most likely to be asked!

  1. “Is she a good baby?”  Um, what?  I mean really, what kind of question is that?  As if anyone is actually going to respond “No, my child is the spawn of Satan.  She is terrible & I’m ready to give her back.”  To be fair, we’ve all probably felt that way at times but it’s not like we’d ever say it, especially not to a random stranger, who is usually the person asking this absurd question in the first place.  Just don’t. breastfeeding book quote
  2. “Is the baby sleeping through the night?”  First of all, why do you care?  Second of all, if you’re asking this before about 3 months of ago, it’s really a stupid question.  Babies that young are not SUPPOSED to sleep through the night, especially if they are breastfed.  New moms are MORE than aware of the sleep deprivation they’re experiencing so there is no need to remind them about it by asking this pointless question.
  3. “You look tired.”  No s***!  I haven’t slept more than 3 consecutive hours in weeks thanks to cluster feeding.  Of course I’m tired, & I’m already acutely aware of how ridiculous it makes me look.  There is no need to point it out to me.

  4. “When you are having the next one?”  Oh man, this one really makes my head spin.  I just pushed a human being out of my body, I haven’t slept more than a few hours at a time in weeks, & you are asking me when I want to do that again?!  Are you insane?!  You must be.  For the first 2-3 months after Rachel was born, I was quite certain I was NEVER going to be able to have another child.  I just felt like there was no way I could possibly endure that newborn stage again.  And honestly even now that she is a year old, I’m still nowhere near ready to even think about tackling another pregnancy, much less another baby.  The newborn stage is NOT my favorite by any stretch of the imagination & I’m pretty sure if I had to do that with a toddler running around the house I’d truly lose my mind.  I wish I were kidding but I’m not.  As far as I’m concerned I won’t be ready to think about another baby until Rachel is potty-trained & speaking in complete sentences.  I have immense respect for moms who are able to have kids really close together.  Part of me wishes I could do that but I just don’t have the patience & that’s all there is to doesnt want your advice onesie
  5. “You think this is hard?  Just wait till she’s walking, talking, etc.”  Ok, this is another one that really grinds my gears.  First of all, it’s completely unhelpful & downright depressing.  There is no such thing as a new mom who isn’t struggling one way or another so this kind of comment is just like rubbing salt in a wound.  Second of all, maybe the newborn stage was easy for you & the toddler stage was really hard, but how do you know the same will be true for me?  The answer is you don’t.  Every stage is different for every mom, just as every child is different.  What was really easy for you might be really hard for me & vice versa.  So just stop mom decisions
  6. “It goes so fast.  Appreciate every moment.”  I know you mean well, I really do, but please just shut up with this one already.  No one can appreciate EVERY moment because that’s just not possible.  Inevitably there will be moments as a new mom that just frankly suck.  There will be moments when you really want to scream because you truly don’t know what you’re doing & you’re just so damn tired.  And it’s in those moments when you feel so guilty for not loving every moment because everyone you know is so busy trying to remind you how fast your baby will grow up & you end up thinking something is terribly wrong with you because you aren’t loving every single minute.  Do you see now how a seemingly innocuous comment can actually be extremely hurtful?I had this wonderful dream that I slept... but then I woke up.

I apologize if this post comes across as overly negative.  I just find myself reminiscing a lot lately about those first few weeks of motherhood & how hard they were for me, & I can’t help but think that hearing the above comments & questions (often from pure strangers) only made things harder.  I know some moms are super laid-back & handle the newborn stage with a lot more grace than I did, but it isn’t an easy stage for anyone, especially first time moms.  There isn’t much anyone can do to make the transition to motherhood a whole lot easier BUT if people would stop saying the types of things I’ve mentioned here, I truly believe it would help at least a little bit.  So the next time you’re tempted to ask any of the above questions or make any of the above comments to a new mom, please hold your tongue & say something else instead.  Or better yet just let her talk & tell you how things are going for her.  And if she’s struggling, promise her that things will get better & that you’ll be there to help.  That’s what she really needs to hear.

new mom cartoon

Dear New Mom

Dear New Mom,

I know you’re in some ways happier than you’ve ever been, soaking up all those newborn cuddles & feeling your heart expand to give out a kind of love you never before knew possible.  But I also know you’re struggling under the weight of what feels like an obnoxious burden that was thrust on you just when you needed to rest & recover from birth. guilt

Being a new mom is HARD.  So hard.  And what often times makes it even harder is all the people telling you exactly how ecstatic & blissful you should be.  Please remember this: most of the people saying that haven’t had a newborn to care for in YEARS.  They have largely forgotten how INTENSE this phase of life really is.  Yes, it’s wonderful, but it’s also REALLY FREAKING HARD.

I’ll be honest with you & admit that I probably experienced a mild to moderate form of postpartum depression.  I didn’t fully realize it at the time but thankfully I was already on Prozac for anxiety before & during pregnancy & was quickly switched to Zoloft after giving birth because it is considered better for breastfeeding.  I believe this kept any PPD I experienced from completely devastating me.  But even so, trust me I had my moments of utter despair & confusion.  Moments of loneliness & uncertainty when I questioned why I had ever thought I should be a mom.  Moments when I had to step out of the room & just cry or scream so that I could be sure I wouldn’t hurt my baby. PPD_Graphic.jpg

But that’s exactly what they were: moments, nothing more.  They didn’t define me as a mom because I didn’t let them.  Even on my worst days/nights, I somehow managed (most of the time) to give myself a little grace.  That & venting to some truly wonderful friends (most of whom were already moms) is how I survived those first few weeks of motherhood that were in so many ways like one longgggg march of fatigue & confusion.

Here’s what I think you really need to hear as a new mom: it gets easier.  Yes!  It does!  It really does!  There is light at the end of the tunnel.  And it may come sooner than you think. pema chodron quote 2

If you’re breastfeeding, there will come a time when you don’t spend every waking moment with a baby attached to your chest.  It WILL happen.  I promise.  Trust me, I was so, so close to giving up so many times.  But I held out largely because so many women had told me that everything would get magically easier around six weeks.  And to my great surprise they were right.  I made a vow to myself that if it didn’t get easier by six weeks I would quit for the sake of my own mental health, but I am eternally grateful that it did get easier.  But if that isn’t true for you & you feel like you need to supplement with formula or switch to formula entirely, DO IT!  A mentally stable mom is the single most important thing a baby needs, so (within reason of course) do whatever you need to do to achieve that goal.pema chodron compassion

The next time someone says “Oh, just wait till she’s crawling all over the place” or “You’re going to miss this when he’s talking back to you someday,” just smile & nod & know that that person has not one clue what they’re talking about.  Or better yet, you can be braver than I am & tell them to mind their own damn business.  Because the truth of the matter is you may not miss the newborn stage.  And if you don’t, there is NOTHING wrong with you.  I know I don’t miss it!  I have only come to love my daughter more & more the older she has gotten, & I have learned that every stage has its advantages & disadvantages.  Thus the best thing we can do is try to relax & enjoy each one as best we can.  Easier said than done of course.  motherhood-quote

The truth about motherhood, especially the newborn phase, is that it is the most intense emotional & physical experience of your life.  There will be moments you love, moments you like, & moments you hate.  But they’re all just that: moments.  Give yourself the grace to experience every emotion that crosses your mind.  And trust me, in those first few weeks every emotion known to man (or should I say woman?) will definitely strike your heart- often times many all at once, some of which may be contradictory.  Just allow yourself to experience them all & remember that this will get easier.  As time passes you will have more arrows in your quiver, so to speak, so even if the challenges you face seem “bigger” you’ll have more ammunition to throw at them.  And you’ll have the confidence that comes from knowing you have survived every challenge you’ve faced so far.  And that, my friend, is worth a lot.birth-of-mother

If you’ve made it this far, congrats!  Who knows how many times you had to stop during the course of reading this to nurse your baby, make a bottle, or change a diaper?  But just know this: it gets easier, it gets better, & you can do this.  If I can, anyone can.