People warn you about all sorts of life changes when you are pregnant, from the sleep you’re going to miss to the freedom you’re losing. But no one warns you about the most shocking change – what will happen to YOU after you have a baby.
No one tells you that when your baby is born, YOU get reborn too.
During pregnancy it’s easy to believe that having a baby is just one more thing to adjust to in life, like moving or starting a new job. And honestly you probably won’t notice it at first. In the beginning you are just scrambling to get enough sleep to stay somewhat functional.
But by about month three it starts to sink in: You are not the same person you were before you had the baby.
There, I said it.
I’m not saying that the change is bad, or something to fear. But because no one talks about it, it pretty much blindsides most moms, or at least most that I know.
You can try to recreate the YOU that existed before the baby (we’ll call that period B.B. – before baby). You can drink cosmos with your friends, watch Breaking Bad just like before, and even go to the same restaurants. But it will all feel different somehow.
Your relationships with your friends will feel a little different, especially your friends without kids. I know this is a little taboo to talk about, but sometimes you will look at them with envy when they tell you their Friday night plans. Then sometimes you will feel pity for them, that they are not experiencing the joy of holding an angel in their arms.
Your relationship with your partner will change. In part it will change for the better. You will grow closer and become a different sort of team. The joy and excitement you get to experience together is immeasurable, as you watch this little person smile, laugh, and explore the world. But it can also change for the worse. The problems you had B.B., like money, communication, sex, will be multiplied times 50.
Your heart will grow bigger. You will be more sensitive. Your capacity for joy and happiness will grow. The sound of your baby laughing will be the most amazing sound in the world. But likewise, your capacity for fear and worry will expand.
With the new fear and worry, television and news will change for you. The shows you used to watch with blood and death will probably make you feel more disturbed. You will have to turn off the news when they talk about missing children. The thought of a hurt child will make you feel more fear and angst than you ever thought possible.
Your priorities will completely shift. Again, this is a little taboo to discuss, but if you were very ambitious about your career B.B., that may shift somewhat. I’m not saying that happens for everyone, but it does happen for many moms.
You will be so attached to your baby that you will not even want to go to the grocery store at first. Leaving for an afternoon will feel terrible. Leaving overnight will feel like someone is tearing out your heart. The first time you leave her with a sitter, you will probably cry as you close the door.
Speaking of crying, you will cry a lot. More than you can imagine…buckets and buckets of tears for so many reasons or for no reason. You will be sad and happy, terrified and joyous, overwhelmed and completely content, sometimes all at the same time.
It will be horrible to listen to your baby cry. Maybe B.B. you heard a baby cry and felt annoyed. You may have declared that YOU will let the baby cry it out to sleep train or to teach them manners. Maybe you thought that other parents were pussies. Hearing my daughter cry is tantamount to being tortured. Sorry, but it’s the truth.
There will probably be times when you wonder if you made a mistake, question whether or not you are cut out for this, or question if you can handle it. It will be the single most challenging thing you have ever done.
I don’t say all of this to scare you.
I think that motherhood is one of life’s greatest joys. It’s an experience unlike any other and I love it. It’s so so so worth all of this and so much more.
But what happens to YOU when you become a mother is fucking crazy.
I say all of this because after a baby is born, you may feel the need to get back to “normal” as quickly as possible. Get the baby on a schedule, get back to the gym, get back to work, hanging out with friends, get back to feeling like YOU again.
But you must also take the time to rediscover who YOU are now.
Remember, when your baby is born, YOU get reborn too.
You are a newborn mommy and you don’t yet know how to be in this new world yet. You are walking on shaky legs. So trying to rush back to “normal” without taking this into account can lead to frustration, sadness, anxiety, and possibly depression. Trust me, I am facing it right now.
So don’t try to be the same YOU that you were B.B. Don’t try to find your previous normal. Instead recreate YOU. Have fun discovering who MOMMY YOU is.
Pay close attention to what you enjoy most now, like your baby’s laugh, playing in the park, or maybe relaxing with a movie at night. Also pay attention to what you cannot tolerate anymore. Scary television, getting drunk and going to bars may not feel as rewarding.
I’m not saying that you will never get drunk or party with your friends, but I am saying that what you desire may change. What you find fun and satisfying may change.
It’s jarring at first. I’m struggling with it as I write this. But I’m working to let go of the old me and embrace the new mommy me. Eventually I will find a way to integrate the two and focus on the things I enjoy most, even if they are not what I enjoyed most a year ago.
This transition is making me feel like I’m caught out to sea in a very tumultuous storm. But the life raft I’m am clinging to is self compassion and love – love for my new life, love for my baby, love for my husband, and love for myself.
Whether you are pregnant, a newborn mommy, or a mommy of 3 kids, I believe that loving yourself is the key to finding balance and happiness in your life, no matter how motherhood is changing you.
I love who I am.
I enjoy my life.
I am infinite.
I am a diva.
I am a mother.