I didn't do a lot of blogging when I was pregnant, mostly because I was a hot, exhausted mess and blogging just felt like another thing I had to do, when all I really wanted to do was eat Taco Bell while having my feet massaged. #PregnancyIsRough However, while I was scarfing down Cheesy Gordita Crunches I was racked by the fear of what was coming.
One of the most helpful things I did was pick the brains of my friends who were already moms. Asking about what Braxton Hicks felt like, what I should expect during delivery and what really happened post-partum helped me prepare mentally for the new role I was taking on.
Lauren, of Sobremesa Stories, recently expressed some of the same fears that I went through when I was pregnant in her post, "Five things that scare me about being a mom." I was instantly drawn to her post and wanted to help calm her fears, like my friends had done for me.
1) Labor and delivery
Lauren, this was probably my biggest fear. In my heart, I secretly wanted a C-Section because I was so scared about delivering a baby. A lot of weird and gross stuff happens when a baby is born and all of that had me thinking that maybe the baby should just stay inside of me forever. Obviously, that's not an option so here are my top tips.
- If you're OK with an epidural ask for one whenever you think you need it. My doctor requested mine for me when he tried to check my dilation and I tensed up and was uncomfortable. I loved that he knew that it was something that could help me and let me get it right when I needed it.
- Pushing isn't as terrible as it looks! I pushed for two hours before I had to have an emergency C-Section. After those two hours I told my doctor I could keep going if we needed to. I hadn't eaten in over 24 hours and slept terribly the night before. You'll be surprised the energy you have when it comes time to push.
- Anything that doesn't go according to plan will still work out. Like I said, I secretly wanted a C-Section but never planned to actually have one. I was induced and labored for 29 hours and had small breakdown before I had my C-Section. It all turned out OK. The doctors had my best interests at heart and they made sure both me and baby were healthy.
2) Sleep deprivation
I'm not going to sugar coat this. You won't sleep well for the first few weeks. It's basically torture what newborns put you though. But it will end and you can be the one to control how long it takes.
- Set a nap/sleep schedule for your baby. I cannot recommend this highly enough. My little boy is a great sleeper and I will take partial credit for it! Since he was two weeks old we set him up on a sleep schedule. I love the Baby Wise method. You can read about my take on it here, but it has saved my life, especially as a working mom. Benson was sleeping 12 hours a night by three months old. It seriously made my life so much better. Like I said, this won't last long. Enjoy those late night/early morning times with your little boy!
- If you're open to bottle feeding, let dad take a shift during the night. Jason would always take the late night (11 p.m. or 12 a.m.) feeding for me. He gave Benson a breastmilk or formula bottle and that meant I got to sleep from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. before I had to take a shift. Then Jason would feed Benson again at 6 a.m. and I'd feed him at 8 or 9 a.m. It helped so much getting to sleep more than an hour or two at a time.
- You'll hear this a million times, but sleep when the baby sleeps! Take a nap, whether it's short or long. Even just 20 minutes will make you feel like a sane and confident woman again.
3) A shift in identity
It's totally weird to think of yourself as someone's mom, but it's absolutely the best role in the world. For the first couple of months you might lose yourself in this new role.
- You might see you put your baby over your husband or see your husband put his son over you. This is OK for the first little bit. Becoming parents is a big learning curve and you both need time to adjust.
- Don't give up your interests and hobbies. It's totally fine to take a break from your normal interests while you're learning what it takes to be a mom, but once you have it down jump back into those interests.
- Use those wonderful skills you have, like teaching, to be a better mother. Instill a love of learning in him through your passion for it. As he grows you can teach him to write and then he can take that little part of you along as he grows up.
4) Body image post-partum
I had no idea what to expect from my body after it was done carrying a child. It's definitely weird not knowing your own body. Things will be completely different. For me, having saggy skin and a mommy pooch was the biggest change, but it might be something different for you.
- Anytime you feel down about what your body looks like remember the miracle that it just preformed. It's not going to change how you look, but changing your mindset will make a big difference.
- It really does take time for things to get back to "normal." I had incision pain for a couple of months after my C-Section, but it cleared up eventually. My saggy mommy tummy has started to tighten back up after 16 months. Love yourself for who you are now and not who you think you should be.
- Dress for the body you have now; don't wait around for your pre-baby body. If feeling good about yourself requires a few new tops and pants then invest in them. Don't feel frumpy while you wait for you body to adjust. Do what it takes to feel good about yourself. It will be so worth. I wrote a post about dressing for your mommy body you can read it here.
5) A new season of marriage
I heard the same advice Lauren did, that children change your marriage, and while it's true I don't think the change is always negative. In the first few weeks of my son's life I felt closer to my husband than ever. We were a team and we were in this thing together. It helped strengthen our marriage rather than come between us.
- The best way to avoid the negative effects is to realize that your way isn't necessarily the "right" way. I definitely need to be better about this. My husband and I did things a little bit differently, but in the end it didn't matter whose way was the "right" way. All that mattered was that we were both taking part of the load and helping each other.
- Take some time for just the two of you. I read in a book that you should develop a habit of sitting down with you spouse right when you get home from work and spend at least 5 minutes together-alone. Then turn you attention to the kids. I wish I had done this because now Jason gets home and holds Benson and talks with him while I'm rushing around cleaning or making dinner. I end up feeling forgotten or ignored, and all it would take to change that around is 5 minutes together.
- Finally, I would recognize that there is a learning curve in becoming parents. You might yell or snap for no apparent reason, but you both are under a lot of stress. Forgive quickly and ask for forgiveness often. It's so much better to be happy and supported than to be right.
It's OK to be scared
Lastly, I want all you pregnant mommas out there to know, it's absolutely, 100% OK to be scared! Having a baby is a huge life change. It will be difficult. It will be exhausting. It will be one-thousand percent worth it.
I had a lot of fears about becoming a mom, even after my son was born, but you'll find your path. You'll know what's best, and if you don't you can always ask. (Just don't ask the Internet. It's a bit of a drama queen.)
Relish your pregnancy and then enjoy your baby when he comes. Snuggle him as often as you can. Soak up that sweet newborn smell. Everything changes so quickly, don't get caught up in being "good enough." If you worried about being a good mom it means you already are one.