When I had my first baby, Aidan, two years ago, I didn’t know what to expect. I had read TONS of books, articles, and pamphlets on how to take care of my baby, but they didn’t really prepare me for what it was going to be like. Friends, family, and church ladies offered all kinds of advice and platitudes, but they were all about the joys of motherhood or tips for caring for my little one. No one told me honestly what those first few weeks were going to be like (other than sleep-deprived).
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If you are expecting your first baby, or you know someone who is, let me share with you seven things I wish I had known before I had mine. These are tips that you likely won’t get from your baby books, nor are you likely to hear them from other moms. But hopefully they will make you feel more prepared for, and less overwhelmed by, your new little one!
7 Things I Wish I Had Known Before My First Baby
- That the only thing I would do the first week or so is feed my baby … and that that’s okay!
This was, without a doubt, the biggest shock to me as a new mom. I did not realize how much of my time would be spent nursing those first few weeks. Aidan was a very slow eater, and by the time he finished, I usually only had a short window before I had to do it all over again! I would often say to my husband that I didn’t know why I even bothered buttoning up my shirt, or even wearing one at all!
This was very frustrating to me, because I thought I should be doing more, being more productive. I voiced this frustration to a more seasoned momma one day, and she reminded me that I was being productive – I was feeding my child! And what could possibly be more important than sustaining this new little life I had brought into the world and making sure he was thriving? Even if that’s all I got done that day, that was still a big accomplishment! Thinking that way enabled me to be much happier and more peaceful as a new mom.
Is breastfeeding a challenge for you? Read my Epic List of Breastfeeding Tips & Resources!
- That I would not be able to get nearly as much done as I planned.
Before Aidan was born, I was completely naive about the amount of work a newborn requires, and the lack of energy I would feel. I thought I was going to get soooo much done during my 6 week maternity leave. However, I quickly realized after bringing Aidan home from the hospital that I was not going to be as productive as I had thought. As I mentioned in point #1, feedings took up a significant chunk of my day, and the rest of it was spent diapering, burping, soothing, etc. This frustrated me a lot in the first couple weeks, until I learned to let things go and simply enjoy bonding with my baby.
One thing that helped me do this was choosing one – only one! – goal for the day and celebrating when I had completed that one task. This helped me feel productive and kept me from getting discouraged by what hadn’t gotten done that day.
- That I would be SO tired… but that this would not last forever!
Okay, so obviously people had told me that I would be tired. And there’s probably no way to know what it’s going to be like until you actually experience it. But I wish I could have known just HOW tired I would be so that I could have mentally prepared for it somehow. I would have appreciated my pre-baby sleep a little more. I would have slept more in the hospital. And I would have taken more naps in the first few days of being home!
The second part, though, is that it won’t last forever! While I was in the thick of round-the-clock feedings, feeling utterly exhausted, feeling like I could not go on like that, I wish I had known that it would get better, that I would survive, and that I was stronger than I even knew. New mom exhaustion is honestly awful … but you can take comfort in knowing that it will not last forever! You will sleep again!!
- That I really should stock the freezer.
This is another piece of advice that I’m sure I did read, but I didn’t really listen. If I could go back and give my pre-baby self some advice, it would be STOCK YOUR FREEZER! A few people brought us meals, and a week after Aidan was born my mother-in-law brought me a couple weeks’ worth of meals, which was a huge blessing. But for the first 4 days after we came home from the hospital, we had nothing prepared. And after my MOL’s meals ran out, I still was not up to cooking dinner, though I had thought I would be. So ladies – stock your freezers!
For some ideas of super easy freezer meals, check out this post on How I Made 11 Freezer Meals in Only 2 Hours!
- That I may not form an immediate bond…but that it would come.
This one is very personal, but so important to me. It’s so important that I wrote an entire post about it.
Long story short, I did not feel that immediate bond with my new baby that I had heard every mom talk about. Every mom that I talked to about having a baby said the same thing, “Once they place that baby on your chest, it will make everything worth it!” They would talk about the instant connection and the love that I would feel the minute he was born.
But I didn’t feel that connection with Aidan, and I was devastated. For weeks I thought that there was something wrong with me. But then slowly, over time, I did start to bond with him, and it started to sink in that I was his mommy. And one day I looked down and thought my heart might literally burst from all the love I felt. And I have never felt so relieved.
So, new mom, if you don’t feel an immediate bond with your baby, don’t despair! Just keep doing what you’re doing, and the feelings will come!
(**Note: I’m not a mental health professional, so if you think you may be suffering from postpartum depression, don’t just take my advice – talk to your doctor!)
- That my old routine would not work … but that I would develop a new one.
I am very much a routine kind of girl. I like my routines and I like knowing what to expect from my days. Having a baby, however, threw all my old routines out the window! Life with just me and my husband had been familiar and comfortable. I could plan out my day however I wanted. And I had all the personal time I needed. That allllll changed with a baby. Suddenly my schedule was completely different, and it was almost impossible to plan out my days with a newborn.
But I developed a new schedule, a new routine. No, it didn’t look at all like my old one, and some days I truly mourned the loss of my old, care-free life, but as I settled into a new routine I became at peace with life again. People would tell me before I had Aidan that I would develop a “new normal,” and I didn’t know what that meant. Now I do. If you are like me and you thrive on structure and routine, just know that you will find a new rhythm, and you will feel comfortable with your schedule again.
- That it would be the hardest thing I’ve ever done … but also the most rewarding.
Okay, so this one is super cliche, but it was worth saying anyway. Even though I had read the books, taken the classes, blah, blah, blah, I still had no idea how hard being a mom was going to be. I was so excited for the baby to come, and then it was all just so overwhelming to me once he came. I would have felt a lot more at peace those first few months if I had known then what I know now: it is so hard being a mom, but you are stronger than you think, and you can do this! Most of all, I wish I had known long before I had Aidan that although being a mom is very hard sometimes, it is the most rewarding thing I have ever done in my life.
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