newborn

An open letter to first-time mamas of newborns

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by Tsh

Tsh is the founder of this blog and lives in Bend, Oregon with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

Dear friend,

So… you’re a new mom now. Amazing, eh? Not only do we rejoice because they are all precious, but it thrills me that you have joined the coven of motherhood. It’s a large one, to be sure—most women eventually do join, I’d imagine—but it’s still no less sacred to pass through those gates into the fields where someone will forever call you Mom. It’s no small thing.

But. Just because it is common, that doesn’t mean it’s easy. No ma’am. It’s most certainly the hardest job I’ve ever had or ever will have, and I’m going to take a stab at guessing and say that it’ll be the same for you. You’ve had a small taste of it, so you’re probably not in total disagreement.

Your wee one is so very wee, so you’ve heard advice out the wazoo from well-meaning women. And you’ve heard this, too—to enjoy it now, because they grow up so fast. It’s really, really true, they do grow up so incredibly fast (my 7-year-old should still fit in my arms, it seems), but I’m not so far away from your stage to look back and see nothing but unicorns and glitter.

In a word… Having a newborn stinks. It’s really hard to “enjoy it now.”

Now, it’s not all horrible, so don’t get me wrong. And yes, it stinks in the literal sense, too (badabing!). But I’d be lying if I said that after the birth of my first, I belonged to that school of women who couldn’t wait to be pregnant again.

I wasn’t. I was so very glad to no longer be pregnant. I couldn’t fathom having a second. I could barely understand why the hospital said it was okay to take my tiny human home; why would I want to do it again? Don’t they know how often I run out of eggs at home? Would they like to see my out of control laundry pile? Why on earth do they think I’d be a good mother?

In short—I didn’t love the early days. In the first few months of my firstborn’s life, I felt like my life was over. I wasn’t happy or joyful. I was sad. Sad to say goodbye to freedom, to living on a whim, to being who I was.

And I felt horribly guilty about that. I loved God and I loved my husband. Shouldn’t I also love my daughter?

I distinctly remember the first time I felt a flutter of love towards her. It wasn’t until she was six months old. I was changing her diaper, and she looked up at me and smiled. Our eyes met—really locked—for the first time that day. And my heart melted. It got better after that.

But before that, to be honest, all I can remember is the constant influx of diapers, saying words I had never before uttered to near strangers (reflux? swaddle? nipples?), and counting poops. And of course, no sleep for months.

I wasn’t in love.


Photo by mrgreen09

Now I know you won’t believe me, but I enjoyed newborn-hood more with subsequent children. By the birth of my third, I actually enjoyed it (though I’ll be honest and say that in my opinion, the older the kids get, the more fun they are). But yes, when my first child was a newborn, I wasn’t glowing with the love of motherhood. I was barely brushing my teeth.

This is common, I hear. “They” don’t say it often, but there are a lot of moms who’ve felt similarly. After reading books and taking classes, you expect to be excited about motherhood. And then when you’re not, it can be a serious let down. Many of us know what that’s like.

The point of this letter is simply to say I’ve been there. Plenty of women have been there. And that if you’re at all like me, it will get better. Lots better. Consider this letter a virtual hug.

A few other things:

• I found out later—way later than I should have—that I had postpartum depression. I was going through slightly more than the baby blues, but I had nothing to compare it to, so I didn’t know. I managed to cope, but not beautifully. Stuff didn’t hit the fan until I was pregnant with number two, more than two years later. Looking back, I wished I had gotten help early. If you feel like you might have postpartum, tell someone.

• Shake off all those blog posts from moms who focus on waking up before the kids. You’ll get there eventually, but right now, SLEEP. Seriously.

• Enjoy date nights while your baby is still immobile. Soon enough, your newborn will be sitting up, then crawling, and then walking. And there’s no going back. I still remember a date night when we went to dinner at 8 p.m., our newborn sweetly sleeping in her carseat next to us at the restaurant. That won’t be possible for long.

• Get some fresh air. Don’t worry about hard-core working out—just go for a walk around the block. Use that baby carrier. Being outside made a world of difference for me.

• Go easy on yourself. Really. A sink full of dishes or an undusted bookshelf does not a bad mother make. Those things can wait… Snuggle with your little one as much as you like (and no, you won’t spoil him).

• Or if you’d rather put him down in his bouncy seat so that you can do something grownup like flip through a magazine, that’s okay, too. You’re still a fantastic mom.

You’re doing amazing. Really. Your body just performed what it was made to do, and yet what it did is nothing less than a miracle. You birthed new life. You’re a superhero.

And yet if you don’t like motherhood so far, that’s okay. You’re in good company. It’ll get better.

Do you enjoy the early days?

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Comments

  1. Very encouraging, Tsh. Love this.

  2. Same. Exact.Experience. for me. Thanks for telling the honest truth. I wish I’d read this before I had my first. And waited nearly 5 years before I had my second because I thought I was a failure. Thankfully my second was a completely different experience. And I quickly had a 3rd. :) And loved it. Motherhood grows on you. And it’s okay if that takes time. A long time. Thanks Tsh!

  3. I was one of those moms that while I was super committed to my firstborn and had strong maternal feelings for her didn’t actually feel the love and bonding feelings for her until she was about 5 months old. I remember thinking that was so odd. Transitioning with the first baby is hard. I remember struggling with sleep deprivation, crying through nursing (bleeding nipples), mastitis, retained placenta and just general “overwhelmedness.”
    The second baby was much easier. :)
    Thank goodness.

    The honesty of your post is so refreshing. :)

  4. Very well written! I too suffered ppd with my first and had no idea until looking back on it. It’s so important that new moms get lots of positive encouragement, even if it’s a simple “you’re doing a great job with that baby!”

    You can read my story here: http://www.yoursouthernpeach.com/2010/08/words-of-encouragement-to-new-mom.html?m=1

    • Oh, what a good “one liner” to say to new moms! Can we put that in pamphlet form and pass it out in super markets? Lol. My son cried about constantly because of underdeveloped bowls and I heard a LOT what my baby “needed” from total strangers (“awwwww, you must be tired/hungry/cold/hot/too little to be out/etc.”). I came home from the grocery store crying more than once that’s for sure!

  5. I’m not trying to be Negative Nancy here, but I did want to add that while I love honesty and it’s refreshing to hear someone write about their struggles…. not all new moms ‘birth new life’ and some women’s bodies did not ‘perform what it was made to do’, but they’re no less superheroes and it’s no less a miracle.
    This is a sensitive topic for so many women, myself included. Being a new mom is hard and it matters not if you gave birth to your baby- it’s still hard and a huge adjustment. Transition is hardly ever easy.
    Motherhood is amazing and hard, no matter how your story of motherhood started.

    • Thank you for that Elizabeth. I planned a natural unmedicated birth and ended up having to have a c-section. I’m still really struggling with that and I appreciate you putting this out there. I felt bad about myself when I read that part of the post because my body was not able to perform and do just what it was made to do. I still have my beautiful perfect baby, but I feel like the birth that I wanted and looked forward too was stolen from me.

      • Just wanted to add here that I had three c-sections, so I’m not referring to natural childbirth in the post. I’m referring to childbirth in general.

        And yes, Elizabeth, mamas who become mamas in ways other than childbirth can resonate just as well with these feelings. Thanks for the reminder.

  6. My firstborn screamed for about 14 hours a day, for her first 4 months. So no, I did not enjoy newborn-hood. After I eliminated multiple food proteins out of my diet, my nursling stopped screaming, and started smiling for the first time.

    Then it was about a year of PPD and PTSD, recovering from those first horrible months (and the subsequent months of near-starvation until we sorted out her food issues).

    With my second? I simply don’t have many memories of her new days. Not because it was so horrible (the sleep deprivation always is, of course), but because I had this 3.5 year old yammering away all the time, and the baby was always strapped on my chest in various slings and things; I just didn’t notice my little appendage. It wasn’t until she was mobile that I have distinct memories of *her*.

    I hate the first year. I really do. Give me a 2 year old any day.

  7. By the time I had my children, so much “pregnancy is beautiful” talk had been given to me that I felt like a total failure as a person, a mother and a woman. I simply didn’t feel the need to romanticize childbirth, pregnancy or mommy-hood, and yet I cherish every bit of my blood, sweat and tears shed for the cause. Everyone is different, but we are all working towards the same basic needs and I wish I had read your post “pre” Post Partum Depression. Thanks again for being such an inspiration.

  8. I too had a very similar experience with my first. However, thrown on top that was what I now believe was some ptsd from a very horrible c-section and the fact that my husband left for a deployment when our son was only 6 weeks old. I definitely had some issues and absolutely did not enjoy those first months like all the books claim you should.

  9. Yes. It’s the hardest job in the world, the best, the most surreal…

    BC I was very arrogant & thought I had all the answers, AC (after children) I realised how little I knew. Now instead of judging mothers of screaming kids in shopping centres I make sure I say “Hi” & try to encourage them – “You’re doing a great job, HANG IN THERE!”

    There is just so much that you don’t get to learn about in birth classes, & the days, weeks & months afterwards are so full of learning times…

    I have been wondering what I would tell myself if I could go back?
    * Life is so precious!
    * Don’t sweat the small stuff.
    * No-one is Supermom – she doesn’t exist so don’t compare yourself to famous women who have a team of paid supporters helping them.
    * Life is full of different seasons – babies grow & one day you won’t be changing nappies. A season happens a day at a time.
    * There are LOTS of opinions about breastfeeding v. bottles, dummies v. none, cloth v. disposable, controlled crying…oh the list is endless! Make decisions that work for you & try to ignore the rest?
    * If you can, ask for help. When people offer, learn to say “YES” even though it’s hard.

    It is wonderful, but it is hard…
    (((hugs)))
    Great to read this article & be reminded that we should love & care for new moms – in some cultures they do that. They take over, pamper the mom & the whole community celebrates & cares for the family.
    That sounds great :-)

  10. I wish I had a time machine and could have a do over after having read this and all the inspirational blogs that make me feel totally normal now. I still carry guilt about my post partum depression that I had with my newborn (who is now nearly 10!) and went undiagnosed for so long. I felt so utterly hopeless and isolated and didn’t understand why I wasn’t capable of enjoying what I ‘should’ be enjoying. I sincerely hope some young mother reads this and feels a weight lift off her shoulders! Whoever you are, we understand and you are not alone.

  11. I do love the newborn-hood. I am home with my first who is 3 months old and have finally found the “job” I absolutely love. I do appreciate the “pass” to sleep…I feel like I should be doing more, and feel guilty passing up the opportunity to do some chores to sleep in with the baby. We’ve had/are having our share of struggles between living overseas, two transcontinental flights w/ a newborn, military life, and a move. I can’t wait for the remnants of our recent move (last week) to dissipate so I can go on savoring the fleeting baby moments.

  12. Love this. I literally had my third not 6 hours ago and needed this reminder. They asked upon admittance if I had PPD with my others and I was so glad to be able to look someone in the eye and say yes, with my first yes.. It does get better (but jesus I am never doing this again!) But more people need to read letters like this to know that it is ok for those newborn days to suck….

  13. Love this. I’ve had friends really struggle through the first year so I know it’s not uncommon at all. I had to go back to work rather quickly both times and most likely soon after this one (I’m 32 weeks pregnant with baby #3). I know my girls are in great hands with Daddy but I always live in fear of what I may have missed/be missing. I will tell you as a soon to be mom of 3, ages 3 and under who works full time, I still don’t get up before my kids. I’ve learned that a well rested mommy is much better than an uber productive/prepared mommy. Although, I am determined to work on a morning routine this year. Thank you for your thoughtful words today.

  14. Thank you for this. I felt so alone those first few months…good to know I’m not.

  15. Is it okay to say that, yes, I did enjoy the early days? I love your post, but I didn’t relate because it wasn’t my experience, and I don’t feel as if that’s something I’m allowed to say (not here, just in general) without being scorned or scoffed at or considered a liar in denial, especially because I am a mom of 5-yr-old triplets. The assumption is that those early days, and even current days, must have been complete torture for me, but they weren’t and they aren’t. I always semi-joke that in exchange for giving me multiples, God made them very easy to raise and care for, and the worst thing I can say about their infancy was my lack of sleep. But, even then, God was gracious because was never the type of person to need a lot of sleep in the first place. I didn’t mourn the loss of freedom, and I adapted quickly and easily to the new demands. In fact, their birth and existence feels to me as if God took the peg of me and plugged me firmly into the hole designed just for me, as if everything He’d made me to be was destined for this purpose. I’m not trying to brag about it or say that anyone who didn’t feel as I did was wrong, because that is certainly not true, but I feel alone in this and don’t often say it out loud. This post just reminds me of that feeling.

    • I, too, loved the newborn days (and nights), I loved nursing, I lived the quiet bonding of the middle of the night, heck I even loved the challenge of it all. You are not alone. I will be having newborn days again any minute and I can’t wait!

      (Although for full disclosure I think I suffered mild depression for most of BOTH of my pregnancies. Not a happy time.)

    • I hear you. My first was a singleton and then I later went on and had twins. I had about 60 minutes of severe PPD after my first was born, after a couple days of a natural labor when they went to hand me my baby, I was like “really? doesn’t someone else want to hold him? i need a few minutes here.” I saw the way everyone looked at me with that look of concern, so I can understand those that feel they can’t be honest. I was glad mine was so, so short lived. But while I was bonded and felt love right after, I ended up having extreme anxiety about my childs welfare. I am sure some of you know what I mean. Check to make sure she was breathing every 30 seconds, that is a form of ppd as well. I just had no idea because, as I said, I was “bonded.” I wish I knew then that PPD can have such a range of symptoms and emotions because I really isolated myself in this state of anxiety for a long time, to the point that others were unable to bond with my child.

      When I found out I was have twins I went through pre-pardum depression, I didn’t “need” two and really struggled with “wanting” two; I didn’t. I was really worried. But then I saw them and that was it. But then, as you said, the opposite happened, it was as though people expected me to be depressed and overwhelmed, I felt like I couldn’t be honest about how joyful I was. I think having two worked for me in the way that I was so busy I didn’t have time to feed into anxiety, so upon realizing this and realizing, yes, I can love two babies at once, I felt so free to be joyful. In the end every mothering experience is so unique, even with the same mother : )

  16. Great post! Both of my kids were adopted internationally as toddlers. After years of infertility and waiting and longing to have children, when our first kiddo came along, we sort of expected (and were expected by others) to just be completely joyful with our new life. Couldn’t have been more different than I expected it to be. I missed our old life and privately lamented the fact that I would never forget what it was like to not have kids. Don’t get me wrong…I liked our first little one, but my adjustment was way harder than I thought it would be. I felt very alone, because it’s not very common for someone to talk about this subject with children who are adopted…and when I posted about it on my blog, I had folks come out of the woodwork identifying with my feelings on the subject.

    Anyway…then, 6 months into our new life as a family, things began to change and I began to bond with him, truly. Now, almost 5 years after he came home, I love him more than I ever thought possible…and, I don’t really remember what it was like to not have kids. :)

    The transition with our second was much easier..probably because I’d been there and new what to expect a little better. I’ve learned to not be so hard on myself. And to let go of all my crazy high expectations.

    Anyway, guess I just wanted to say that – with exception of the hormonal/body changes – this isn’t only a newborn phenomenon. I’d say it’s pretty common in the adoption world, too, and your advice is great for all new moms out there! :)

    • Love this! I don’t have personal experience with adoption, so I’m really glad you shared your story for others to see. Thanks so much, Melissa.

    • Melissa, YES YES YES! As an adoptive mom of two, I completely agree. It may not be PPD for us per se, but it’s emotional, mental, physical, and so. very. hard. I’ve found that once they are about three years old — past the twos — I finally feel like I can think clearly again and really enjoy the journey :) What a blessing they are!

  17. I actually absolutely LOVE the early days. And for some crazy reason, I love changing diapers. I have an almost 3 year old toddler and a 6 month old baby. The toddler tantrums are so much harder for me than these newborn days! I loved this post though, read every word! Also, our toddler wakes up more frequently at night than the baby… also more needy and harder to get back to sleep! The toddler-ness, I think I wasn’t prepared for it!

    • In retrospect, I hope I didn’t sound ignorant since I said the opposite! Anyways, I really honor your vulnerability in sharing this with everyone. It spoke to me, too, even though I’m in a different place. I like how you reminded all the moms how fantastic they are. :)

      • I understand you, Archer. I was about to leave a comment that the second year is harder than the first year for me too.

        I think its so good for moms to admit what is hard, knowing that different people, different babies/kids, different personalities and needs, different circumstances … all contribute to it being hard. It just is hard. We can identify with that. If its not this season, its another. :D

        I don’t mean for that to sound negative. Actually I see it as a positive since it shows that we’re all normal in finding it hard.

  18. I expect my little girl in a few days to come. I am really worried about all this things i will have to succesfully carry out. This post really made me feel a little better. Thanks for sharing your motherhood experiences with us

  19. It is good to read this and know I am not alone. I was first expecting the rush of love after the delivery but labour was so bad (one of the horror stories you would hear while pregnant) I only felt pain and humiliation (another horrid story).
    We come home scared and in pain and the guilt starts to creep in… I do hope it gets better, I just don’t think I am there yet.
    Thank your for the virtual hug, I was needing one

  20. Tsh, Me and Jenn were just talking about this issue tonight. Great post. We missed you at the fire pit.

  21. Tsh, I wish I had read this when I was in the newborn stage with my first. I used to wonder at my Mum and sister talking about how as soon as they met him they felt this “rush of love” for him, because I didn’t feel that. It wasn’t even until his sister was born, a year and a half later, that I felt like I had come out from under this cloud (that I now realise was some sort of post natal depression) and was really able to see him for the beautiful boy he was and I realised how much I really did love him. How refreshing it was to realise that it was just a sort of illness and no reflection on me or my relationship with my baby boy.

    I laughed when I read what you said about saying words you had never even uttered to strangers before – I used to think ‘nipples’ was such a naughty word, I couldn’t help myself from blushing whenever it somehow came up. But when I had my first baby? Nipples? Yeah, sure. Wanna see ‘em? Ha! So different!

    And thanks for the refreshing comment about getting up before your kids: I have just started doing this and I LOVE it and was wondering why I didn’t do it sooner, but yes, you’re right, sleep was more important! My third and youngest baby is only 5 months old. Sleep has been my priority! I’m glad for you comments because they helped me to let go of that and just be where I am and enjoy what I’m doing now, not worry about what I wasn’t doing then.

    Awesome post. I will share this with all my friends expecting/just having their first babies!

  22. I wish I’d know about blogs. I wish Facebook had been around. I wish I’d had other friends with babies or young children who had been there, done that. Because the hardest thing is the loneliness… I watched the clock, minute by minute. I lived from Mothers’ Group meeting to Mothers’ Group meeting. I was never diagnosed with PPD, because I returned to work when my little one was 3 months old, and things seemed to get better then. Until they didn’t.

    New mums, seek out support… even if it is online. You need to know you are not alone. You need to feel the love that comes from other women have felt exactly as you have. Ignore all the bad advice, and do what feels right for you. But do find a sympathetic ear, and someone who will remind you that “this too will pass.” For it will – and as your little one gets bigger, it will seem to do so more and more quickly.

    Totally agree with the cuddles, btw. There can never be too many of those.

    May sleep be with you!

  23. I have a five month old son, my first (and likely only) baby – and I just turned 40 a few weeks ago. I waited a long long time for him and because I’d watched so many friends have babies, and had heard all the stories (good and bad), I thought “I got this – no sweat!” I figured I’d had all this vicarious experience, and had lived my own life, I was completely ready to be a mother, and everything would go smoothly. Oh sure. ;-) What I think is a truth about becoming a mother is that no matter how many stories you hear, even if people ARE forthcoming and honest and tell you how hard it will be at first, how tired you will be, how bloody lonely some days are and how just getting a daily shower will feel like a genuine accomplishment… you can hear it all but you don’t really understand until you’re in the middle of it. And then you REALLY get it, how hard it is. I’m only now coming out of my “Five Month Fog” and starting to feel like myself again – and I know that’s a lot earlier than a lot of women, so I feel lucky. Thanks for this post!

  24. Well-said Tsh, this is exactly what new mothers need to hear – just to be gentle on themselves and perhaps to lower expectations a little. I’m expecting my third now and everything you said resonated with me. As I go in to this a third time I expect to be tired, overwhelmed, emotional – but also very blessed too. I wish I’d read something like this post first time around, it really does feel like a virtual hug.

  25. I became a mother 6 months ago, and it seems I had no energy for whatsoever, but I loved this little guy. And could imagine having a second. Then, four months in, sleep seemed to come to a halt. I’ve heard much worse, but for me it was crazy, going back to getting up multiple times a night to nurse instead of only once. I hadn’t stopped counting my hours of sleep for weeks and weeks and suddenly they seemed to slip through my fingers, after all we’d been through. It seemed we had already come so far! So hard to get up. So hard to fall asleep. I couldn’t believe it truly only was “just a phase” and it would “get better”. But it has! And I feel energized again! So yes … it wasn’t all roses and butterflies (is this the correct saying? I’m German :) ) but so far, every downswing was indeed followed by recovery. Good luck to all of you new moms out there, and kudos to every one of you who has been there.

  26. I loved all of you suggestions. Clearly your experience was clouded by a very serious condition that isn’t to be taken lightly or ignored. I have to say I loved the newborn stage and after three kids I still yearn for those early days of motherhood. I was deeply in love at the first sight of those cheesy little faces in the delivery room :) that being said I honestly had very low expectations. I received very good, honest advice from other women before I had my first baby and it was exactly what you are saying here: it might not happen right away ( love that is). It was a little shocking to hear that but I was prepared not to feel overwhelming love right away. I would add another suggestion that I’ve seen played out over and over in my friends and family: you are the Mom – you take care of your baby. Let everyone help wihh everything else but all of the nitty gritty needs to be Momma. I guess if you are nursing it kind of ends up that way. I’ve had friends whose mothers aw oke with the babies a night brought the babies to mom to eat then did all of the changing and rocking and loving while mom slept. That is where bonding happens. It’s like being in the trenches of newborn hood together and coming out with a special bond. My friends who has “night help” or baby nurses or overly helpful mothers had a very difficult time bonding with their babies. Just my observation. Delegate everthing elae but stay close to your baby. Clearly, I’m referring to new moms in general and not those who are dealing with severe depression in which case additional sleep is essential. Thanks for raising awareness about PPD with this article.

  27. Did I like the newborn stage? Hmm. Yes I did – no I didn’t – yes I did – no I didn’t… depends on the minute! Haha!

    I’m newly following your blog and really enjoy the eclectic mix, and the fact that there’s so much grace sprinkled through all the topics. Thanks for sharing!

  28. THIS is doing good work in the world. I remember all those feelings, including the loss of freedom and the guilt at not being totally in love with my child. I hope someone who needs it reads this today.

  29. This is fabulous! Our son was born with under-devolped bowels (only diagnosed in hindsight, when the blood in his stools randomly ended at 4 months of age) which made him cry non-stop for the first 8 weeks of life. I felt like a horrible mother, not just because I couldn’t console our son, but because I felt so alone. All the other moms seemed to be enjoying their babies and I had days I contemplated sending him back to the hospital. All that to say, if you have a colicky or medically needy baby, give yourself extra extra grace and know that even for us, it gets tons better. People at church still comment on how they can’t believe my smiling toddler is that “fussy baby” : )

  30. I had a difficult first pregnancy followed by a CSection birth. Then we had feeding and allergy issues in the first couple months. The early days were so hard and now I know I had ppd. When we got pregnant the second time, we convinced ourselves it would not be like the first – it couldn’t happen again. And it did. My VBAC ended up being a CSection and then the poor little one was completely intolerant to any soy or milk that found its way to my breastmilk. My little one screamed day and night! I was a mess.

    I finally talked to my doctor about my ppd almost a year after the birth. I don’t know why I waited so long. Shame? Guilt? I wish I had known that other moms didn’t always view motherhood as wonderful and glorious.

    Now I love being at home with my daughters (ages 4 and 15 months), and, believe it or not, we are considering a third! This time we know better to go into it with preconceived ideas.

    I feel like I know now to expect the “unexpected” feelings and talk to my care providers, to ask for help from others, and not put so much pressure on myself to “do it all” – especially in those first several months.

  31. All I ever wanted to be was a mom but I was told I would never conceive a child. We were given a great miracle and became pregnant for our wonderful son after two years of trying. During my pregnancy we were told he may have fluid on his brain and would most likely be born brain damaged. Once again I mourned for the dreams I had for my child. Two months later the ultrasound was normal and they told us our son would be fine. Finally, he was born, my beautiful 9lb baby boy I had prayed for, but alas it couldn’t be that easy. He was born with three holes in his heart and had to spend his first days in the NICU.
    Yes, I was overwhelmed at times when he finally came home, definately tired and very much afraid. One thing I never was though, was short of love. I think because I didn’t have the fairy tale pregnancy I gave up my fairy tale view of what motherhood would be. It was a battle for me from the beginning, a journey of mixed emotions and at times pure overwhelming exhaustion.
    I think so many suffer from the let down after childbirth because we are not prepared for how incredible hard it is. It is the same for marriage. You see these magazines with smiling faces holding perfect little angles, turn the pages to read how these beautiful people are not only new mom’s but are getting there bodies back into shape while baking the perfect cupcake, really now!
    If we were all a little more honest about what the real world is like instead of trying to look like we have it all together all the time, we would be helping women much more.
    I love that you are not afraid to tell the truth. If there is one thing we can do to help the women of tomorrow, it is that, tell it like it is!

  32. I could have written this myself. I had the exact same experience… Did NOT help that my baby had colic as well. I wish I would have seen this before I had a baby. I had heard about ppd, but I thought I would be immune. And then when it happened, I was so embarrassed. But I didn’t get help.. I waited for it to pass, which took about 6 months. I finally did get help after the birth of my second baby. And no.. The newborn stage is not my favorite. I don’t miss it, and I wouldn’t want to go back. My kids are 6, 5 and 3 now. Things are much easier now!

  33. YES!

    People often ask us, when they find out how many kids we have, what the hardest number to transition to was as parents. I think they are expecting me to say child number 3 or number 4 was the hardest, but honestly? Honestly, my hardest transition as a parent was becoming a mom for the first time.

    And, emphatically seconding the SLEEP suggestion! I am one of those moms who wakes up before her children, normally. But when I’m pregnant or there is a newborn living in the house with us? No way! Sleep and self-care is too important!

    Just think, my friend, what a boost Tate is going to have as a first time mom some day with a mom like you who is so open and honest about her own struggles as a new mother? :-)

    Wonderfully written letter! Thanks for sharing it and putting it out there :-)

  34. My experience has been similar. I enjoyed glimpses with my first, but was mostly too much in a tunnel of newborn’ness/new mom’ness to see anything else. My second was also an easy baby and, by then, I knew to appreciate it and enjoy it more- not feel so tormented by the things I thought I “should” be doing. Now I am looking forward to number three and knowing to take every opportunity to hold him/her, without worrying about spoiling or the other things I should be taking care of.

  35. Thanks for this article. I am expecting my first (a girl) any day now and everyone keeps asking “Are you excited?” Well, yes, but scared, too! And thinking, “I can’t even get it together *now*, how on earth do I think I’m going to do it with a baby.” And trying to figure out transitioning from a 40 hr week office job to a new work-from-home schedule in an information vacuum of what motherhood will be like and how much time I’ll actually have. Saved your article to re-read in the weeks ahead and reassure myself that it’s OK if everything doesn’t live up to the glitter and glamor!

  36. avatar
    Susi from Germany says:

    I like most:

    You birthed new life. You’re a superhero.

    :-) It really gets better with the second one (or eventually the third, … one). I remember being at the hospital one night with number one, the baby was crying and didn’t want to calm down. I called the nurse, told her that the baby wouldn’t stop crying and handed it to her and went back to sleep, seriously! I didn’t feel guilty and I don’t do now, that’s just the way it was like!

    • When I was at the hospital with #3, I frequently took advantage of the nurses so that I could sleep. She said that was one of the tell-tale signs of mamas with another one already at home—they didn’t feel guilty about taking advantage of the help. :)

    • I had the same and totally opposite experience. Newborn crying, feeling alone in the hospital, nurse stops by… and says, “Is everything alright? I really don’t like to hear crying babies.” and then abruptly walks out the door. What???? Pretty much the opposite of what I needed at that moment and only added to my anxiety. Needless to say, that nurse was on my “blacklist” when we returned to the hospital to have our second. (I will say that EVERY single other nurse we have encountered at our local hospital has been nothing but amazingly fabulous, but that was the one bad one.)

  37. I wish I had read a letter like this when my first baby was little… Such an encouraging post. I had so many issues to deal with when both of mine were newborns that I have to say I didn’t enjoy either one of their infantness now they are 4 1/2 and almost 3 and I wouldn’t trade them for anything!

  38. This should be handed out to new moms as they leave the hospital.

    Being a brand-new mom is just *so hard*. And nothing can prepare you for it. The bone-crushing exhaustion, the shocking discomfort of learning to breastfeed, the complete shift in identity – it’s all so much.

    I think the fact that new moms hang in there, keep taking care of this tiny, wrinkled, demanding little soul even when they themselves are struggling – well, that *is* love, whether it looks like the Hallmark version or not.

  39. I have to be honest, that after the first couple of weeks of physical recovery, I really did enjoy a lot of the newborn phase. But I don’t think I realized how much until later. I now have a two and a half year old and I’m getting ready to deliver my second (third if you count my miscarriage) in a few weeks. I’m joyfully anticipating the dependence and immobility. He won’t be demanding, I can mostly fulfill his simple needs easily and he’ll stay where I put him. I wish I could say the same for his big sister. Toddlerhood has not bee an easy journey for us, especially the last two months, and I find myself missing the newborn days. I just hope he sleeps better than his sister did. (She didn’t sleep through the night consistently until 13 months and has begun waking at night again lately to use the potty. Not great timing). On the flip side, my first pregnancy was mostly great until the last couple of weeks. But then I had a miscarriage last spring and this pregnancy has not been smooth sailing with gestational diabetes and now a transverse baby. I think I’m so looking forward to the newborn phase because it means finally bringing home a child after what feels like more than a year of being pregnant and finally getting some time to myself without being poked and prodded by anymore medical professionals.

    • Laundry Lady, I almost could’ve written your comment myself! Our first son thankfully slept fairly well at night from early on, but day times–another story. He’d rarely sleep at all during the day, and when he did, it was in short (15-45 minute) stretches.

      I also had a miscarriage following our first, and now have an 8-week-old along with our 2.5-year-old. The third pregnancy was tough (thought I was going to lose him a number of times in the first trimester), and a lot harder with an active, demanding toddler in tow!

      Thankfully the home birth went great, and boy #2 is relatively mellow. However, at this stage he hardly sleeps (at any hour of the day) unless he’s attached to me or next to me or on top of me–you get the idea! LOVing the smiles and “ah-goos” and simplicity. But there’s still that frustrating aspect of newborn digestive tracts and their impossible-to-please nature! I think the transition this time is equally difficult, just in a different way!

      Tsh–your letter is fantastic, and although I don’t think I suffered from ppd with my first, it was nevertheless a difficult time adjusting to life with our newborn son. Perhaps I’m struggling even more this time, as I mentioned above, having a super-active, strong-willed toddler son plus the newborn. We just keep reminding ourselves that it’s a stage of the journey we will get through, just keep going one step at a time and enjoy all the smiles and cuddles as much as we can! (And pray LOTS.)

  40. avatar
    Christine S says:

    I totally agree. The other thing that my friends and I realized after the hard first few months is that nothing you do is going to ruin them for life. So you give your baby a bottle. They will nurse again! You have to supplement with formula. They will thrive and be healthy and you are not a failure because you couldn’t produce enough! Your kid cries for what seems like an eternity. Really, its usually not as long as you think and sometimes kids need to cry. They don’t have many ways to express themselves but they still have emotions! If they are fed, and dry, sometimes they’ll just cry. Its a season!

  41. I need this. I’m 6.5 months pregnant with my first, and I’m already struggling with anxiety and prepartum depression. That’s right, I am not in the supposed 99.99% of women who are over the moon about being pregnant. It’s been so hard, and I’m so afraid for what is coming (even though this was very much a planned-for baby! Who knew??). This letter was so good for me (even though it made me cry a little). It’s so nice to hear again that how I’m feeling is normal, and that it’s going to be hard, but that others have done it and I can too. I have God and a wonderful husband and they are my lifelines. I’ve avoided depression drugs, but am going to talk to a therapist starting next week. I know I’m struggling and that I’m also going to be prone to post-partum depression as a result. Thankfully, I did realize pretty early on that things were NOT right and talked to my doctors. I’m hoping that since I know what to look out for afterwards I can be prepared to get help early if I need it. Thank you SO MUCH for this letter – I’m saving it to reference as often as needed :)

    • Allie,
      Thank you for posting your thoughts, because it gave me the courage to reply, which is something I don’t normally do. I have 2 children, ages 7 and 3, and I suffered from prepartum anxiety with my 2nd. It seemed to come out of the blue and was very scary for me. My first pregnancy went beautifully (it was one of the happiest times in my life) and I was just fine postpartum as well. However, almost as soon as I got pregnant with #2, something was not right for me emotionally. This was a much wanted pregnancy and I felt that I should be floating on air. Instead, I was becoming anxious and paranoid. I tried to ignore it and downplay it at first, but when it began to affect my ability to take care of my 1st child, I knew that I needed to seek help. Asking for help was the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life. I kept wondering what I had done wrong and why I was such a “bad” mother with #2 (and she wasn’t even born yet!). My OB sent me to a wonderful counselor, but I also wound up under the care of a psychiatrist and needed to be medicated. I RECOVERED COMPLETELY! My baby was perfect. I sought help early, as you are doing, and I didn’t have any problems with postpartum anxiety. Please don’t feel bad about what you are experiencing. The one thing I kept hearing over and over from the medical community is that everyone knows about PPD, but almost no one talks about prepartum disorders. I felt like I was the only one in the world suffering from this, but I know that’s not true. Don’t be afraid to seek help. This could mean counseling or medication. I put my faith in God and in my doctors and counselor and everything turned out beautifully in the end. This will pass.
      I will keep you in my prayers.

    • the later your pregnancy the more drugs they can safely administer to you. As some one who battles with depression year round and has a terrible time with pregnancy I just though I would comment too on post-partum and breast feeding. I was all for breastfeeding and staying off a lot of meds because they are not safe to take as they get transferred to the baby. I was looking forward to all the bonding and breastfeeding and it was a nightmare. It caused me so much stress and anxiety that I was not producing enough milk to feed my daughter (I would pump when she wasn’t feeding and might get a half a feeding after a whole day (i mean WHOLE day) of pumping). My doctors in the end told me I was better to formula feed then to continue to punish myself the way I was. After I gave up the breast feeding I was free of drug restrictions and things got better. I know breastfeeding is very important to some (was to me) but if you are having problems with depression now chances are you will later. Think about it while you can and decide what’s more important to you. Breast feeding or your own mental health and well being, and how far you are willing to go with each. If i had thought more on that while I was pregnant I wouldn’t have had such a hard time. My doctor said something very true to me the other day, they can fix my meds, they can help me cope, they can even hospitalize me, but they cant help me if I am dead. The same would be true. You can breastfeed, you can get help with breastfeeding, you can go with formula (there is nothing wrong with that), just dont sacrifice yourself in the process because your baby needs a momma and formula vs breast is not a fight you need to loose yourself over.

  42. With our first, my mother-in-law was worried that something was wrong with the baby because we hadn’t called much since he was born. When asked if everything was ok I remember replying, “Well, we love him, but I’m not so sure we like him very much right now.”

    Nice to hear similar sentiments.

    And while there is usually merit in getting up before the kids to organize, arrange, and anticipate…in those early months, I agree with all my heart…dude, get some sleep.

  43. Thank you so much for sharing this! So many people go through it, but are ashamed to talk about it. I went through the same thing, but I felt so awful because no-one had warned me ahead of time so I thought it was just me. We tried for SO long to get pregnant. I could not understand why I was so unhappy once my daughter was here. But, come to find out I had PPD. I have tried to let my newly pregnant friends know it’s okay if this happens to them. You are still a good mom!

  44. This is wonderful advice for all those new moms. I was lucky enough not to have PPD, but I do admit to feeling overwhelmed and incompetent. I mean those little bundles should come with an instruction manual, but instead I learned by “trial by fire”.

  45. Thank you for this post. I’m due any day now and although I’m totally ready for the pregnancy to be over, I don’t really feel anything towards the baby. I feel like that’s a horrible horrible thing to admit! I hope we bond soon!

    • That’s not horrible at all. You’ve never met or seen the baby! Not everyone “clicks” with their baby during pregnancy, or right after for that matter!

  46. I did love the early days, but I had some help. My son was premature and spent his first 6 weeks of life in the hospital. While that was definitely difficult, there were some blessings. Most notably, I was completely recovered from childbirth when he came home, and I’d been able to get some sleep. I was so eager for him to come home, and I did “enjoy it now.” The other bonus was that the hospital had him trained on a regular schedule. He slept for at least 4 hours at a time, and woke up only once during the night.

    But I can only imagine how difficult it would be to have a newborn demanding attention when your own body is still trying to recover and your hormones still haven’t normalized, and you’re not getting any sleep.

    My sister hates babyhood, what she calls the “slug stage.” She enjoys her children much more when they’re older.

    In any case, I keep learning over and over to let go of what I think I “should” be feeling and just let myself be how I am.

    Thanks for your post.

  47. I absolutely did NOT enjoy the first few months with either of my girls. :( You are totally right, though. It gets better. MUCH better. They are my world! :) This is a wonderful post. I’ll be sharing it. :)

  48. So glad to hear someone be truthful about this! Its wonderful having children, but it sure does suck in the very beginning. Sleepless nights, poopy diapers, crying babies. Then you hear from some moms that it is just so amazing and wonderful. It has it’s wonderful amazing moments, but having a newborn is filled with more frustrating moments than anything else. I love my babies, but I sure love it when they get past that 6 month mark! Working towards that mark right now with one of mine (she’s 7 weeks), and I can’t wait to get there!

  49. So true! I also had the exact same experience!! It is amazing what people say when you are honest about it-so few women are. Those of us that have felt this way need to be honest since more go through it than admit it. Thank you for posting this. I know it will be such great encouragement to so many-it was to me still and my daughter is now 2. Thank you!

  50. What a fantastic post. My little one is 3 now and I still have days when I think my life is over. That I’ll never again be able to use the bathroom in peace, or read a book during daylight hours. What a great way to say to those new moms that we’ve been there and it’s okay to have those feelings. I remember being in the hospital and looking at my daughter laying in the little push crib and wondering what was wrong with me? Why didn’t I have this rush of love that I had read so much about? Why didn’t I feel “in love” with her already? Tsh thank you for saying what alot of us were thinking but were too ashamed to say. And to those new moms – don’t worry, the feelings will come and you’ll see the joy (most days anyway :) LOL

  51. Oh my gosh- this was so me with all 3 of my kids! Having a newborn was always so difficult for me and I never really enjoyed it until they started smiling at me- or even better- hearing the beautiful baby giggle. That was when I was able to turn the corner and start *really* enjoying motherhood again.

    Newborns are a TON of work and very little sleep. I used to say “It’s a good thing they are cute….”

    Thanks for being willing to tackle such a difficult topic!

  52. your story speaks to my story. going on to number three, I am feeling like it will be similar. I know number two, Tay was enjoyable. I was able to enjoy her. It wasn’t necessarily easy, but I enjoyed her more. V was 6 mo too that I called Ben to tell him that I was ready to stay at home with her (although I had been home for those 6 months). Thank you for being real, while validating the discrepancies that mothers often feel the “need to feel” toward their newborns. What do we do when we don’t feel. Oi vye.

  53. AMEN! I had a VERY similar experience. It’s always good to hear you’re not alone :)

  54. I love the honesty in this post. The first couple months are especially difficult, but it’s so rewarding when they actually see you and smile at you. My baby is 7 months now, and it’s a lot of fun. I won’t lie though…he still doesn’t sleep through the night, and he still doesn’t sleep in his crib. I don’t beat myself up over it. He is the happiest baby, he loves people and he is growing. Every baby and every parent is different. All new and expecting moms should read this!

  55. This is so valuable. My postpartum depression didn’t surface until around three months with both of my kids. All of a sudden I was overwhelmed with anxiety and a formerly unfathomable feeling of emptiness. New mothers should know that they don’t have to ‘buck up’ or be disgraced as a bad mom. Finding ways to reconnect with your own spirit of individuality is so very important to weathering those early parenting trials.

    I’ve just this week started a blog about self-care while parenting. Really it’s just my own journey toward doing a better job of it.

    I’ll be linking this post to my friends who are expecting, so thanks!

  56. Tsh, Thank you so much for this article! I am due with our first at the end of March and I’ve started wondering what it will be like. Our little guy is a surprise baby :-) and so my pregnancy has been spent working through both excitement and grief. It’s funny how things don’t always turn out quite like you imagined. I so appreciate you words of encouragement and advice. I’m going to save this post for March/April when I take the leap into motherhood!

    Melanie

  57. This totally resonated with me. I had the same experience with my firstborn, but figured it was normal. The baby hardly ever slept and motherhood was just going to be a downer, I thought. Two kids later, I’ve been diagnosed with ppd twice now and medication has been such a relief to me. I’m now able to cope, laugh and even (sometimes) accomplish things. Motherhood does get better as the kids grow, I think. It’s just so much baby maintenance during those little years.

  58. Thank you so much for this….I am a new Mom. My son is 3 1/2 months and I really thought I was the only one that felt every word you wrote in this letter. I hug you right back, harder than you can imagine!

  59. Thank you, Tsh… This hit home today. I’m not a new mom but number two actually seems to be much harder for me than first baby was. I think maybe it’s a personality issue. I’m not saying I didn’t have PPD with my first daughter, but she was such an easy baby that I didn’t really see it nearly as much as I have with this one. I really need help and I’m just starting to realize it.

    I yelled at an old lady at the grocery store the other day because she was following a young mom with a couple of small children around and making snide stage whisper comments to ‘herself’ along the lines of “If my children were being that bad I wouldn’t even take them in public!” My kids weren’t even with me but that didn’t stop me from out and out yelling at an old lady wearing a ‘Grandma’s are the best’ sweater and telling her she should be ashamed of herself. Then, of course, I did the most awkward thing humanly possible and marched over and told (somewhat aggressively) that mom that I thought she was doing a GREAT job. (Which wasn’t even really the most awkward part.) I then insisted she give me a high five. Do no ask me why… ‘Grandma’, however, rolled her eyes and stage whispered to a can of soup “Oh dear. She must be a real idiot.” Yeah… I was opening my mouth to say something else (that I’m sure my Christian soul would have regretted after my rationale returned) but I was beat to the punch by one of the little boys yelling “HEY! Don’t call MY MOM’s friend an idiot! She’s a nice LADY!” …. ‘Grandma’ scurried off and I looked at that kid like I had never loved anyone as much as I loved him in that moment (which was probably true). But then I glanced at his mother and she is staring at me like I have three heads and she is obviously mortified to be seen with me and my hollering in the middle of a busy grocery store so I mumble something (Lord only knows what. “Good on ya”??) that likely added to the awkwardness and RAN away. Yes, it was none of my business. No, I am not in (nor do I want to be) the habit of yelling at strangers for having opinions I disagree with. But for that minute I felt like that old lady was the embodiment of everything my brain had been trying to tell me – that I was a failure, that other people could raise my children better than I could, that there was no sense in trying and I should give up…. When I saw red I swear ‘Grandma’ looked like evil embodied.

    But here’s my request, ladies : If someone sticks up for you as a mama – not just a well meaning telling you what to do, but defends what you’re already doing that’s working well (even if it might not seem like it in the moment)… PLEASE encourage that person right back. It’s HARD to do! If I weren’t fueled by raw insane emotions, I’m not sure I would have had the guts to say anything, but I know I would have wanted someone to if the shoe had been on the other foot. Please, ladies…. represent.

    • Oh, honey, good on you!!! I would have done the same thing, and I would have added something about how she shouldn’t take herself out in public with a mouth as rude as that – & I don’t even have kids or PPD or any other reasonable excuse!

  60. Beautiful and oh-so-true post, Tsh. So good to have this spoken!

  61. Oh, how I wish I could have read this when I became a mom. Although dealing with infertility (4 years of treatments), a miscarriage, a high-risk pregnancy that ended with an emergency c-section, and 2-months preemie twins was one of the most challenging things in my life, I was so thankful for it those first few months–because it kept me focused on knowing the miracle that my children were and appreciating what I had. STILL, it was really hard. I felt totally unprepared (so focused on giving live birth that I never really thought about what came after). I was overwhelmed by the hugeness of it all–all my big physical and emotional feelings. Even now, almost 14 years later, this post has me feeling teary. Because birth is so common, I think we forget or downplay how momentous and transforming and just…huge the whole thing is.

  62. Yes, like so many have said, “Thanks for being honest.” I remember going to a new mom’s group and we went around the circle and everyone went on and on about how wonderful their baby was. When it was my turn, I said, “Yeah, my baby is great, it’s me that’s having the identity crisis.” Well, being honest helped everyone really open up to talking about what they truly were going through.

  63. Thank you for such an honest post!

  64. Hear, hear sister. so true. I am going to save this page and forward it to friends with each new baby born into our circle. It’s so important to know that these feelings are normal and that you are not alone. Well spoken and from the heart.

  65. I first read this post and bawled. I think I’ve pulled myself together enough to comment. We are adopting and they came home last week and I am so overwhelmed. Even more overwhelming is the fact that I have not bonded to them at all. I kept thinking, well if they were my own, I wouldn’t have this problem. I wouldn’t be wishing for my old life back. But it’s encouraging to hear that it’s not just because they are not biologically mine. I’m so thankful for this post- I thought it was a terrible person for feeling this way. I will try to be patient and get through this initial period!

  66. I am similar to Archer (an earlier commenter) in that I do enjoy the newborn stage. I think something that really helped me, though, is the huge cocoon of support I enjoyed that first year in particular and to an extent, since then. There was 21 women pregnant at church (out of roughly 60 or so) and many were just past this stage themselves. So people had told me about not immediately connecting. My own experience wasn’t instantaneous- although it did happen before the next day. I received lots of dinners. Invitations to outings (to the first invitation to get together I said, but he’s just a newborn and she said- you’re an adult, come and talk with us and it will do you good. I’d foolishly thought since this particular group mostly had toddlers and preschoolers I wouldn’t fit in). Help in general. The other thing about that year? And this is huge- my husband was home ALOT. And I mean- ALOT. He had a great job for that year in between school, but they simply called him when they needed him- so he got to hang out at home and do a lot of helping himself. And I enjoyed it with the second- more so possibly since I feel like toddlerhood has been a struggle and newborns (at least the two I had) sleep, cuddle and don’t talk balk!

  67. Loved this post and reading everyone’s responses. My oldest is 30, and I was 16 when I had her (and I got married to her father). To be honest, I don’t remember a lot, but I do remember her being about 2.5 months old and telling my husband that I loved him, and wanted to stay with him, but that I thought we had made a mistake keeping the baby. I was SO overwhelmed.

    I went on to have 3 more children, starting 6 years later.

    I can’t wait to share this with my younger daughter who is pregnant with her first…

  68. I wish I had this to read (almost) 2 years ago when my daughter was born, but man, it’s still helpful to know that what I was feeling – anxious, confused, scared, unfit, lost, overwhelmed, and overall majorly unsure of myself – has been felt by others. Thank you :) I was convinced I was going to ruin her. The first 8 weeks were some of the worst of my life. But you’re right, as the months went by it just got better and better :)

  69. Thank you for this post. Though my experiences with my 4 babies was really positive, it is a great reminder that it’s not true for everyone & to be supportive of everyone & each situation. Thanks for saying what a lot of people won’t!

  70. This is so helpful. I had awful PPD and absolutely despised the newborn stage. I also distinctly remember the first moment of true love eeking through and it was such a relief! Still, I have some guilt from ever feeling the way I did and this post does me great good.

  71. Thank you for this.

    Especially the part about not feeling like you need to wake up before the kids. I tried a Wake Up Before Your Kids and Spend Time with God challenge in my sons first year…and I was just miserably exhausted. I gave up, but not without the added guilt of failing. (And do we not have enough guilt already as new moms??).

    Also, I did have a connection with my son immediately. But I’m now pregnant with my second…and nannying. I feel NO connection with the kid I’m nannying. She’s a hard, colicky infant. And so it’s just reassuring to hear that I’m not a terrible person for sometime not even liking this tiny bundle. And at times I worry I won’t connect to baby two. But I know that other moms have made it through and it will be ok either way.

  72. Love this. It should be given out in hospitals. With the PPD part highlighted.

  73. Thank you so much for this. I’m a first time mom with a 5 month old and this is exactly what I needed to hear. After the first 2 weeks, I was all a glow, basking in the joys of motherhood. Then the sleep deprivation hit me like a ton of bricks and all I could think was “Why did I do this to myself?”, which was followed by the worst guilt I have ever felt. I couldn’t believe what I was thinking. I’m learning to go easy on myself and let others help. It’s a process, but we’re getting there!

  74. Thank you, Tsh! I didn’t have any postpartum depression post-babies, but it was still hard. And this is a wonderful reminder for when/if we have another. THANK YOU.

  75. Thank you. I have a 10 wk old little girl (my first), and I really appreciate your post.

  76. Thank you. Wish I’d had this a year ago. Thanks for letting us know it’s ok.

  77. avatar
    Laurie Bare says:

    this would had been hard to read while pregnant with my first and even my second, but I wish I could have read something this honest. Thank you!

  78. I still miss the movies Damien and I rent at home with newborn Celine sleeping or even 6 month old Celine sitting on my lap. We are very limited these days in our viewing with kids who stay up past 9pm (I go to bed at 9pm!) but can’t handle more than pg movies.

    Gone are the good ol’ days of racy movies (ha, ha!!)

    There is a lot of freedom with one newborn, though it doesn’t seem like it!

    I love your letter by the way. Reminds me of another open heart letter I read somewhere (wink).

  79. I object to the use here of the word “coven.” Hopefully this is just a case of poor word choice. Otherwise, a nice post.

  80. I love a newborn, but new motherhood didn’t come easily the first time around. I have a three month old (my third) and I’m already thinking I’m doing better each time. 5 or 6 kids in, maybe I could relax a little :) But my first cried all day, every day for 9 or so months and my second was a preemie, so this is my first baby who behaves predictably. Praise God for getting me through. Thank you for saying both that it is normal not to adore them one minute in and that you may want to cuddle them or you may want to set them down. I have felt bad with all my babies, not wanting to hold them 24/7, but to have my arms to myself some. Still though, I fall into the love-a-newborn, baffled-by-toddlers set!

  81. Thanks so much for the post! I haven’t had children yet, but the topic caught my eye because PPD is something that concerns me because I’ve had problems with depression before (due to complicated stress + not sleeping… sound familiar?). I am encouraged though that even if I do experience PPD in the future, I will certainly not be alone and can draw on this article and the responses of so many brave women! Thank you all for the wealth of your knowledge and experiences!

  82. avatar
    Kimberly Arnold says:

    Thanks for this post! I just had my second baby, and I’ve been struggling with this more than I felt like I should. I loved the newborn stage with my first – he was planned and I was thrilled to be a new mom. Our daughter wasn’t planned per se, and the surprise combined with a hard pregnancy and an even harder labor made me feel some disconnect with her, I think. I just didn’t have the “thrilled” feeling this time. I love her deeply, but I feel guilty that I don’t have that connection like I did with my son. Anyway, thanks for the reminders, and know that it spoke to second time moms as well.

  83. avatar
    Steffanie Fick says:

    I’m expecting my first at the end of March. It’s encouraging to hear that yes sleep deprivation and the first few months are not all that great, but it will get better. Thanks for sharing your story. I’m going to have my husband help me keep an eye out for signs of ppd so I can get help early if needed.

  84. No, definitely not. The first weeks of my little one’s life were very much the worst weeks of my life. I am getting ready to have my second daughter in a few weeks, and I feel much more prepared this time.

  85. Yup – that would be my experience too as a new dad of a 5.5 week old.

    http://www.dazeddad.com/2012/02/05/i-have-a-hard-time-liking-my-son-at-night/

    Although it’s even tougher for my wife – she’s been home with the past 3 mornings and he’s just fussed and fussed and fussed…and it has to be difficult!

  86. Thank you. This is the most helpful thing I’ve read/heard about being a new mom. It’s exactly what I (and all new moms) need to hear right now.
    — From the new mom of a 20-day old beautiful girl.

  87. I absolutely did not love the months when my son was a newborn. I knew it would be difficult considering all the baby books I read, and how much I wasn’t going to sleep, and just how different my life will be… I knew all that, but nothing compares to being slapped with a big fat reality check once the kiddo is born.

    The first two weeks were the hardest weeks of my life, to date. I struggled with sleep deprivation, felt so robbed of my time because I was constantly breastfeeding, and felt so frustrated when I couldn’t figure out why my baby was crying. It didn’t help that he was a CRYER. As in, frequent and loud—no soft mew-mewing here.

    I feel terrible admitting this, but there was a point where I questioned why we even decided to have a baby. I thought life was supposed to be wonderful with a baby? I had all these expectations about strolling through the park, cuddling, laughing at every coo that came out of my baby. Instead, I found myself pining for my life before the baby. I almost wished I didn’t have the baby.

    I realize now that I thought that way because of the extremity of newborn-hood, the temperament of my baby, and my expectations of motherhood and what I could handle. Or maybe I took the baby for granted because we conceived so quickly and easily. Perhaps if I had health complications, or if we struggled with fertility, maybe I wouldn’t have complained so much and have been more grateful of our gift. I don’t know.

    I wish I could talk to myself back then and tell me all of this, but at that moment I could only trust people when they said it would get better. Older babies are generally easier to care for, and having more experience made me a better mother.

    There are days when I still ask myself, “Do I want another child? Can I really go through that all over again? And with a two-year-old in hand?” I fluctuate. There are difficult days when I say, “I’m done with one!” and most days when I feel we can add to the family with ease.

    This post was absolutely on point with what I experienced. I know other moms could hardly wait to have another baby when their first was just a few months old. I couldn’t relate; I kept wanting to speed up time to just get to the point when it would get easy. The newborn days are terrifyingly difficult, whatever temperament your baby has. It truly does re-define motherhood once you’ve experienced those first few trying months, doesn’t it?

  88. I speak about PPD with my second….tho I did love her most of the time! (Just not after midnight !) Thanks for sharing your hurt and heart so other women can say…ME TOO.

  89. This is so close to my experience! I actually felt it worse with my second and now realize I probably had a mild PPD, but thankfully I had a well established support system with the second, so friends were always checking on us, making sure I had reason to get out of the house, holding the baby, watching my older son, etc.

    I can’t say enough to encourage new moms to find a support system. Go to any baby & me group you can find and invite the woman next to you over for coffee. She needs the support as much as you do!

  90. A much needed post. Thank you.

  91. Are you KIDDING? Of course I didn’t enjoy it. :) My first cried every night until she fell asleep and my second wanted to nurse for four hours before midnight every night. I had to sleep in another room so my husband could at least get some rest since there was nothing he could do to help.

  92. God Bless You for writing this. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

  93. I don’t think it took six months, but it definitely took some time for the shock of my first baby to wear off. I had assumed “he” would be a “she,” so that had some getting used to. A 24-hour labor didn’t help. An older mom promised that I would get amnesia over that. And I remember bowling balls erupting on my chest, engorgement, and sleepless nights. Not to mention a very clueless husband.

    We all survived. And we went on to have five more. Hehe. Yes, really.

    And subsequent newborns were definitely more fun. And then I didn’t really want to stop. Probably because after awhile I realized how quickly that season passes. With the last few I cuddled as much as I could because I knew they’d be on the move all too soon. Things are not all glitter and unicorns. No, ma’am. I’ve got teenager and tweens on my plate now.

    But, now with my oldest at 14 and my youngest at 3, I realize it passes in a blink of an eye. And the hard does fade into memory.

  94. Love this post, wish I could send it back in time to myself right after my first was born. Undiagnosed PPD with my first, but looking back, man, I wish I would have gotten some help, I had such a hard time, and I was so hard on myself trying to be a perfect mom. #2 was a breeze though, and #3 threw me for another loop. My 3rd is 9 months now and I feel like my fog is finally clearing. (although, to be honest, I had a little breakdown on his 9 month b-day about not savoring and enjoying his newborn babyhood enough) I wish I had spend more time letting him sleep snuggled up on my chest. this is such an encouraging post though, i\’m forwarding to my mommy friends!

  95. I enjoyed this post a lot. I have my second now – a 4 month old boy. All I remembered about my first was that I didn’t really like having a newborn. But with my son, I somewhat liked having a newborn (I didn’t love it. It is still sleep deprivation and all that, but it was nice to just meet needs and not give time outs). Some things do get easier!

  96. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you writing this. I wish I’d known this before my child was born and I began the process of dying to me and not sleeping and wondering why in the world people keep having these things.

  97. My experience with my second was just like this. My now husband and I who were not yet married at the time had our first daughter when we were 19 years old, I remember enjoying every moment of it. My memories from those early days are very happy and melt my heart. I had so much support at that time because we were so young and lived at home with my parents. So as far as reality of having a newborn, this was not average circumstances. However almost 5 years later, my husband and I had married and bought a house, and decided we were ready for baby number two. I figured we had it all figured out and that i would get to enjoy the experience even more being where one is “supposed” to be when having a baby. It did not happen that way at all. Instead, when our second daughter came I was sad. There were tears and resentment and it took me almost 6 months to begin bonding with her. Breastfeeding was such a a struggle to the point that when my husband would bring her to me to feed, I would groan with dread. I didn’t recognize the PPD until she was 10 months old. I was having a meltdown over something I honestly cannot even remember now, and started driving just to get out of the house. I ended up at my doctors, and from there I got the help I needed. I am now expecting baby #3 and I will get the help if I need it, without hesitating. I hope I can enjoy every moment of my little guys early days because I know they go so fast and you can’t get them back.

  98. I think you are so right Tsh about the importance of getting out of the house. I spent the first year of my son’s life walking everywhere. It was so enjoyable to be out and let this tiny life experience the world and nature (I would usually grab a coffee at Starbucks and then plunk down under a tree).

    Someone once said that “leaves on a tree” are “God’s mobiles to a baby.”

  99. Wow, it appears your post has really hit nerves and relieved a lot of us guilt-burdened mothers. I had much of the same experience, but I felt even more guilty because I had no trace of postpartum depression. I thought I could justify my dislike of new mommyhood if I had at least a trace of hormonal issues at play.

    And I was a doula before I had kids! I was around pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, caring for babies, etc. for years. And that first year was a beating.

    It took God changing my heart, cancelling the vasectomy, welcoming more children, and now with our fourth baby due in a couple of weeks, motherhood is the best, sweetest job on the planet. It doesn’t change that the early months are tough. But when my heart was in the right place, it was totally different.

    I know that’s not everyone’s experience. I just want to also encourage new mothers that having more children does make these hard seasons ironically easier sometimes. Like earlier commenters said, somehow our hearts soften more and more.

  100. I have to admit, reading this is both good and bad for me. I don’t have any children yet, largely due to my fibromyalgia (chronic pain and fatigue) and just not feeling ready yet. But I’m turning 34 this summer and I’m feeling the pressure! My husband really wants kids, and I had always thought I did too, but honestly my friends’ stories have me freaked out. I haven’t always enjoyed nannying jobs, and the thought of recovering from the fibro and then intentionally becoming a mom is the most depressing thing I can think of! To re-enter the exhaustion, mind fog, and feelings of being overwhelmed seems crazy to me. So… along with this reality check it is good to hear that although it is super hard to be a new mom, it does get better and is overall worth it! I have to trust that I will get there someday and be ready to head down the road of motherhood… perhaps a little more informed than is good for me! :-)

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