Okay, so Poppy will be 9 months on June 5th. And as the saying goes, time truly does fly once your baby is earthside. I honestly felt like 9 months pregnant felt like an eternity. Now I’m 9 months into motherhood and oddly enough felt like reflecting at Poppy’s 9 month mark. Reflecting on my past 9 months as a mother, Poppy’s past 9 months as a baby and reflecting on things I wish I knew or things I wish I was told. Which is why I wanted to write a blog post hoping that another new mama would stumble upon it to help prepare her for what motherhood is actually like besides what you see when scrolling on Instagram.
9 Things I Wish I Knew About Motherhood 9 Months Ago:
1. Postpartum is a slow and hard journey
Let’s start at the birth of your baby and the birth of a mama, literally. Postpartum is no joke. And even though you hear about how hard it is, I’m not sure if anything can prepare you for what to expect. For me, I thought I’d bounce back, HAHA! And not bounce back like get my body back. No, I already gave myself 6 months postpartum to “bounce back” (spoiler, I’m 9 months pp and still haven’t lost all the baby weight so the joke is truly on my pre-mama me). But I meant bounce back mentally. As I’m typing this, almost 9 months postpartum, I’m still not back to my pre-baby self. Prepare yourself for a slow journey of loving your new body and new life. Prepare to give yourself all the grace in the world and to not feel like yourself for months ahead. Now I’m not talking about postpartum depression or anxiety here. So if you start having harmful thoughts or feel like you’re in the deep end and can’t get out, please see and speak to your doctor. I’m leaving a link here for signs of postpartum depression.
2. It’s okay to set boundaries
Pregnancy was all about you as the mama. Postpartum becomes all about the baby. Even though you as a new mama still need the same amount of love you were getting while pregnant, most people will quickly forget about your needs and focus on your little cutie. While it’s great to know your sweet bundle of joy is loved, it can be mentally challenging to have gone through something so traumatic like birth and then to be easily forgotten. Which is why it’s okay to set boundaries such as; agreeing to when family and friends can visit the baby (you can come by at 10am to visit the baby for 30mins because I need my rest and don’t think anything longer is good for me right now.), communicating what you need from them (Could you please bring dinner and drop it at my door or would you mind doing a load of laundry for me?) and setting clear boundaries on communication (it may take me a week to text back to you since I’m busy with the baby etc. etc.). Believe me when I say setting boundaries is a great way to protect your mental health and well-being as a new mama.
3. Trust your partner
Becoming parents with your partner for the first time is CHALLENGING. One thing you’ll realize early in the newborn days is that you have differing opinions. And those differing opinions will lead into senseless fights that will become blown out of proportion because you’re both sleep deprived and trying to survive. My tip? Trust your partner and encourage each other to try different approaches. I for sure thought my way was the right way. But then I’d witness Qais do something with Poppy and it would WORK. I didn’t want to admit it, but, it seems like dad’s may just have this parenting instinct too. So long story short, trust your partner and communicate with them. It’ll save you a lot of fights.
4. You don’t need to sleep train or follow all the baby “rules”
So this may be controversial. And my opinion on this is honestly a spectrum because every baby is so different. But 9 months later I realize that not everything you are taught about having a baby is right. And that’s the truth. For example, we gently sleep trained Poppy. I was told time and time again to let her CIO (cry it out). But Qais and I just weren’t comfortable with it. So we pick her up every time she cries, I snuggle her, breastfeed her or change her diaper. Guess what? Poppy is almost 9 months old and sleeps through the night. Which made me come to a realization that not everything we are told is set in stone. You don’t need to follow all the baby rules. You can listen to your instinct and follow your baby’s lead. Because us mamas really know are own babies best.
5. Your baby’s sleep doesn’t equal your value as a mama
Talking about baby rules, there is SO much talk about baby sleep online. Like, SO much. And I feel like so many mamas put their value as a mom on their baby’s sleep. Like, “Oh my baby was already sleeping through the night at __ months, why isn’t yours?“. Let me tell you, loud and clear. Your baby’s sleep, whether daytime or night, doesn’t equal your value as a mama. You can be a good mama with a baby that wakes up multiple times a night. Don’t try to join the “my baby sleeps through the night club” because you feel that it brings value to you in motherhood. Because put simply, it doesn’t.
6. Trust your gut
As a content creator who shares a lot of what my motherhood looks like online I receive a ton of opinions. While many are well-intentioned, it can be hard to drown out the noise and to trust your gut. This rings true to family and friends who will tell you a lot of opinions on your baby. My advice, trust your gut. You are the best person for your baby and you know them better then anyone else. Don’t feel pressured to take advice or to worry about something (like a developmental milestone for example). You’ll just start to get anxious and miss out on following your baby’s lead. So mama, trust yourself. You know your baby best.
7. Your relationship with your partner will change
Why doesn’t anyone talk about this? One thing I was shocked about was how much my relationship with my husband changed. For the good and for the bad. I’m not going to lie, I found it was so much harder being a wife after having a baby. And it’s something I’m still working on. Everything from communication to intimacy changes and it takes work to get things into place again. I really wish I was told this prior so I could have made my husband a priority more in Poppy’s newborn days. My advice here is to be prepared for changes, communicate more then you ever have and give each other A LOT and I mean A LOT of grace. Try to have moments with each other, like just the 2 of you to re-connect. And remember all the reasons you love your partner. Because in the haze of having a baby and being on-the-go you can forget about how great your partner is.
8. You can live the life you want to live after kids
I always thought once you had kids you changed. Like the women you were before kids was gone and now you are just a boring mom and that you can’t live the same life you had before. And yes, while certain things you did before may not be in the cards anymore. So many things still are. Having a baby feels like it enhances my life, if I’m being honest. Doing the same things with my husband but now with Poppy makes it SO much more fun and special. Is it a lot more work to leave the house? Yes. But is it worth all the additional planning and steps to get out of the house with my sweet baby girl? Yes times a million! Don’t for a second think a baby stops you from living the life you envision for yourself. It may be extra work and planning than it once was but they truly add more value into your life.
9. Being a mama is actually really cool
Okay this is super corny but being a mama is so much cooler than what I ever thought. Think about it, your body grew an entire organ FROM SCRATCH, sustained life for 9 months, birthed your baby (whether vaginally or by a c-section), produced milk (FED IS BEST! So if your body couldn’t or didn’t it’s just as cool to feed formula), and so on and so on. Then you have this little baby that you get to raise, love and watch grow for the rest of your life. Is it tiring too? Yes. Is it hard? Yes. But everything hard is worth it in life. And being a mama is one hard but really cool journey that I’m so happy to be on. And I just don’t feel like that is talked about enough. As a mama you feel overlooked but mama, you’re actually really cool and you’re doing great!
What are some things you wish you were told before becoming a mama?