Dear First-Time Mom,
It’s OK if you are overwhelmed. If you feel like you are failing. Drowning. Completely fucking up.
We have all been there. You are not alone.
And you are not alone if your emotions are all over the map.
Because you have now entered the world of extremes.
You love this kid more than anything in the history of … ever.
But at other times, your kid has you so fucking frustrated and angry that you want to get in your car and drive far, far away. Alone.
Yes, those moms who tell you how amazing being a mom is have felt that way, too.
They may not have told you, but they have had those thoughts.
All of us moms have.
We have questioned whether we could handle this motherhood thing.
Am I doing this correctly?
Was this a mistake?
Am I fucking my kid up?
I’m not sure I can do this.
Stop putting so much pressure on yourself.
Instead, do this:
Look at your baby. She’s still alive, right?
Then you are doing OK.
If you feed her formula instead of breastfeeding or don’t have her sleep schedule nailed down yet or let her watch TV before she’s two years old, she’s not going to change her name to Destiny and start dancing at Scores on her 18th birthday.
It may take some time to figure shit out.
But you will figure it out.
And I have good news. You don’t have to figure it out alone.
Which brings me to my next point.
2. ASK FOR HELP WHEN YOU NEED IT.
This is incredibly important.
You are not a failure because you ask for help.
Motherhood is so different for all of us.
None of us has the same financial situation. The states of our marriages are all different. Our education and childhood and relationships with relatives are not all the same.
And so a situation that one mom might handle easily, may be very, very difficult for another mom to navigate.
It’s OK. Stop comparing.
And stop should‘ing on yourself.
It’s OK to want help, to need help, and to ask for help.
Who do you ask?
You ask the people you trust. The people who you admire and respect. The people who don’t make you feel bad about yourself.
They will be glad to help you. I promise. Because at one time, they needed help too.
3. Prepare for your kid to do some fucked-up shit.
There may be a day your kid poops and it’s a totally different color than it was the day before.
My 2-year-old sucked all the ink out of a Crayola marker once and she pooped blue poop for two days.
I’m not suggesting you use a marker as a pacifier or that you don’t do your best to baby proof your house.
But shit happens.
My daughter is fine now.
In fact, she’s eight years old, and she kicked my ass in a 5K race last weekend, marker juice and all.
Your kid will also get rashes and make sounds and get injuries that will scare the crap out of you.
The first time your baby gets croup, you will be certain he is minutes from death.
He’s probably not.
The first time your kid falls and gets a lump the size of a baseball on her forehead, you will freak.
Of course, when something happens that makes you nervous, when you see something you are unsure of or your baby is sick, call the doctor.
But don’t immediately jump to the worst-case scenario.
Like I said: Weird shit happens to your kids. Lots of weird shit.
And usually, it’s nothing major.
So refer back to Number 1.
4. Admire your new body.
Yes! Admire it! Your body just did something pretty fucking miraculous!
I know it’s hard. I know you have seen skinny bitches in Us Magazine bounce back into pre-baby shape in a nauseatingly short period of time.
But that’s not reality.
Yes, there are a handful of genetically blessed women who will look just like they did before they had kids two months after giving birth.
And one of those (annoying) women may be a friend of yours.
Don’t hold yourself up to that standard. Don’t put that pressure on yourself. It is not realistic.
Most of us will never get those bodies back exactly the way they were.
When you can accept that, you will unload a big burden from your shoulders.
And you know what?
Your friends don’t give a shit.
Your husband doesn’t give a shit.
Your husband now looks at you as the mother of his child.
To him that is sexy.
You will eventually have enough time, willpower, motivation, and determination to get back into shape. Although it may not be the exact same shape you had before you had kids, you will get there.
It will just be on your own timeline.
It could be in a few months.
It could be in a few years.
When you and your body are ready, it will happen.
5. Prepare for accidents.
They are going to happen.
And sometimes they will be your fault.
You are going to fuck up.
We all do.
When my now 9-year-old was just a couple weeks old, I fell asleep on the bed while I was nursing him.
He rolled off of me while I was asleep.
And he fell onto the hardwood floor.
I thought I was going to die.
I was hyperventilating and hysterical and certain I had permanently damaged him.
That 9-year-old just starred in the fourth grade play, is doing great in school and is a star athlete.
Of course, I’m not advocating that you toss your newborn off the side of the bed.
But I’m saying that things will happen. Accidents will happen. Don’t destroy yourself over them.
Just use these fuck ups as lessons.
Learn from them, make the necessary adjustments, and then keep on going.
And when you breastfeed your baby, move into the middle of the bed.
Or at least put a pillow on the floor.
6. Speaking of breastfeeding, understand that it can be really hard.
Nobody really tells you this. Nobody tells you that there is a good chance you will have difficulty nursing your baby. Nobody tells you that they don’t automatically latch on to your boob. Nobody tells you that it takes a couple days for you to actually make milk out of those suckers or that the first few weeks of breastfeeding can be just as painful as the actual act of giving birth.
But one way or another, you get through it. The two of you may figure things out easily. But you also may never get the breastfeeding thing down.
If you don’t, you are not a failure. If you bottle feed your baby, your son is not going to live in your basement until he is 50 years old.
7. Establish routines and be as consistent as possible.
This definitely helps. Especially with sleeping.
But sometimes there are days where you just don’t have it in you.
You don’t need to get all military.
Inconsistency is not going to mess your kid up permanently, but it will make your more difficult.
So if, early on, you have to make a choice between being consistent or folding the laundry … screw the laundry.
8. Ignore the know-it-all, trust your gut, and do what works for you.
Yes, you are new at this.
But you are also a mom now. And so you possess that mother’s intuition.
If something really doesn’t feel right, then don’t do it.
If you know that something is off, get it checked out.
If you see something going on with your kid and you know it is out of the ordinary, be firm.
You may not be an authority on all things baby.
But you are the one who knows your baby the best.
9. Give up control.
This can be so hard with that first one.
Because you might really like the fact that this little life needs you so badly.
But when you don’t allow your baby to get used to someone other than you taking care of him or her, you are potentially setting yourself up for house arrest.
And that gets old pretty fast.
You don’t have to leave the country for an extended vacation. But you can just get away for an hour.
Your child will survive!
Put your husband in charge. He may not do things the way you would do them, but he is a grown man, for Christ’s sake.
He is capable.
Have your parents help as much as possible if they are around.
If you belong to a gym that has babysitting, USE IT.
If you have the funds, hire a babysitter.
Expose your kid to lots of adults.
Your baby will still want and need you the most.
But when you give yourself as big of a support system as possible, you are making a healthy decision not only for your child, but for yourself.
10. Aim for survival, not perfection.
Give yourself time to adjust, and make sleep, not housework, a priority.
You need rest. When you are exhausted, it’s hard to get through the tough parts of being a mom that make you want to run for the hills.
If you can sleep while your kid is sleeping, then sleep.
The dishes and vacuuming can wait.
If you wear the same outfit for a week straight, you are in good company.
If you can’t remember the last time you took a shower, or if you leave the house and realize it’s been more than 24 hours since you last brushed your teeth, you are doing things right.
At some point you will have the desire to shower and change out of pajamas even if you aren’t leaving the house.
It may happen five days after you give birth or it may happen five years after you give birth.
11. Enjoy It.
I know it may not seem like it in the middle of the night when your kid just will not go the fuck to sleep, and I know you probably have already heard this, but it goes by so fast.
While it may seem unfathomable to you now, you will, at some point, look back and think, Wow. I miss those times.
And if you do have another child, the experience will certainly be very special. But there is only one first time.
Those firsts with the first are just not the same the second (or third or fourth…) time around.
There is only one time when it is just you and this little miracle you have created, only one time when no other kids are fighting for your attention.
So refer back to Number 1.
You will make it through this.
Your baby is going to be fine.
And you are going to be just fine, too.