Updated: Feb 16, 2020
So I know that we have all heard about how those first six weeks of your newborn's life are brutal. And yes, I will agree. But I also think that the first six months are the hardest. I think once you can get past the six-month mark, things get a little bit easier.
One of the most common pieces of advice that I got when people found out that I was pregnant was once you get through the first six weeks, it gets easier. Just hold out hope is what I would hear. Those first six weeks are really difficult. Once you get through that, it gets a lot easier. Yes, I totally agree that that is true. Those first six weeks are so demanding. You're feeding that baby what seems like all day, every day, and you're adjusting to that lack of sleep. And not only that but you're also learning how to parent this new baby. I mean, each and every child is different.
Anytime you have a baby, it's going to be a completely different experience. When I talk to my mom, she just goes on and on about how different all of us were to parent.
I've heard that through and through from every single parent that I've talked to who has multiple children. They're completely different. What is this baby need? What's their temperament? Do they need certain things a certain way? And it's especially difficult with your first child because you're learning how to fit this kid into your life. What's your life going to look like now when you're up feeding until all dark hours and then you wake up and you're completely exhausted and you had this to-do list in your mind of things that you were going to get done. But of course, it doesn't happen because the baby needs something or something comes up and that's just life.
Eventually, you will find your rhythm and it will get easier. I've tried changing this baby. I've tried feeding the baby. What's next? What? What else do I need to do? Sometimes the harsh reality is that you've done everything that you can do and they'll keep crying and you'll be standing there so confused and frustrated and just exhausted. But you kind of just have to throw your arms up in the air and say, well, I've done everything that I can do. And now all I can do is snuggle you or take you on a drive. You'll find what works for your child. Not to mention the postpartum hormones. Postpartum for me wasn't super difficult. However, the second day that I came home and I just had a complete anxiety attack. I was laying in bed and then my mind started thinking I was feeling a little bit off because I lost quite a bit of blood during the birthing process. That was making me feel a little bit woozy. My brain automatically went to you're going to die. And then my mind started going through this movie reel of my child and my husband and what their life would be like without me and how my child needed me because I was breastfeeding her and my brain just went down that tidal wave of fear.
My heart just started palpitating out of my chest and I had to get up out of bed and go sit on the couch and just breathe. My husband came up next to me and talked me through things and helped me see the way that I was thinking was totally just unnecessary and out of control. But all of that to say, those first six weeks are hard and it's a period of an adjustment. But the way that people had talked to me about those first six weeks, for some reason in my mind, I thought, OK, after those first six weeks, it's going to be so much easier. The reality was it was not at all. Yes. Those initial growing pains had kind of figured themselves out a little bit.
But the first six MONTHS, I believe, are very difficult.
That baby needs you to do everything for them. You need to be feeding them all the time. If they want a toy, you have to grab it for them. If they want to move somewhere, you have to do it for them. They can't give you the signs of what they need. Now my daughter can be like "mama" when she wants to drink milk. But up until that six/seven-month mark, I just it really was like a guessing game. I had kind of a basic understanding of, this cry sounds like it could mean this. But the reality is, is I didn't really know. I have a general idea, but I can't be 100 percent certain that that is what she wants when she does a certain cry. And the thing about those first six weeks is you kind of get a hold of it and you're like, oh, yeah, I know what I'm doing. But then something new comes up.
They start trying to roll over or move their arms in a certain way or they are able to see you better. And so they're getting a little bit more overwhelmed by the world around them.
And all of those huge transitions, those mental leaps are constantly changing your baby. Then, as a result, it's changing the rhythm that you had created and kind of gotten comfortable with. You're like, ok, we're gonna have like this many naps. And during your nap time, I can do these things. But as they grow older those naptimes shorten and all of a sudden that time block that you had for ordering groceries or cleaning the house or napping is totally in flux. Now we have to refigure out what this new kind of rhythm looks like and you're still lacking sleep. I mean, my daughter is eight months, like I said, and she is still waking up two to three times a night to feed. And it's difficult and it's exhausting. And there are so many nights where I'm sitting there in bed thinking, oh, my gosh, what have I done? But every time you look at your child you know that it's worth it. Those smiles and all the good bits just wipe away all those difficult bits from your mind.
Give yourself time.
I don't think that the first six weeks is enough time for you to truly understand that so much is happening around you, so much change is happening. So give yourself grace and know that like you will figure it out and it will get easier and your child will start crawling and they won't necessarily need you as much. Then soon they'll be standing up and you'll be running around the house after them, trying to make sure that they don't fall on their face every time they try to pull themselves up. But the fact that they're less dependent on you is easier and more difficult in a way.
That's just a whole other rhythm that you're having to delve into and become comfortable with and understand and learn. That's all part of the process. It's just going to continue. I think my mom still is feeling that way with me, learning how to navigate a mother-daughter relationship when the daughter is an adult and I'm now a mother. What does that all look like and mean?
So you'll never be at a point where you know everything. But I just want to say that during those first six months, especially those first six weeks, take time for yourself. And I remember during those first six weeks, I did not do anything for myself. I think the most that I did was a nap. And if I was able to shower, then it was an amazing day. But my husband and I, we live in a one-bedroom apartment and I didn't want to have family over because I didn't want to feel like I couldn't move around. Also, I was the only one who had a boob. So it felt pretty pointless for someone to come over to let me sleep when as soon as Luna would cry, I would need to go feed her. Find time for self-care, whether that means, a bath or a shower, brush your teeth, whatever that looks like for you. Do it because you need it and you deserve it.
I know that personally I am a pretty stubborn person and I do not like to ask for help. It's something that I'm learning to be better at. But do it. Ask your family for help. And if someone offers to help you with something. Take them up on it and just say thank you.
I remember the first time Lucas and I gave Luna my parents and we went out just to go see a movie. I think it was like a few hours, of course, the entire time I was thinking about Luna, but it was so wonderful to just have a break. It's so important for your mental well-being and emotional well-being because on the days where it's super difficult, sometimes you're just gonna sit there and cry and that's okay. But if you have people around you who are willing to help you in this process and help you care for your child and give you a break. Take him up on it.
Don't listen to everything that you read.
Like I said before is every single child is different. So when you're reading these stories of moms whose children are three months old and sleeping through the night, then you're going to assume, if you're reading it in a way that this person's truth should be my truth. You're going to read it and think, "what's wrong with my kid?" But you need to remember that every kid is different and you know what's best for your child. So if your child isn't sleeping through the night at four months or three months, that's okay. It doesn't necessarily mean that your child's behind another kid. It just means that they're moving at their pace and the pace that is necessary for them. Just remember, give it time.
Of course, the challenges will change into completely different problems. And as they grow older it'll become more of an emotional struggle rather than like this exhausting physical struggle. But know that you can do it and have that self-care and have that self-compassion because you're learning and you're figuring it out and all you can do is the best that you can do. And you may feel like that's not enough sometimes, but it is. I hope that this kind of gives some of those new mothers a little bit of hope and a little bit of perspective because it's so easy to be just completely caught up in and social media and seeing how one family's newborn is evolving or their children are progressing and just know that the pace that you are going is perfect for you and your child.