George came out in one push; Elias, two. It was a simple delivery after an uncomplicated twin pregnancy. I had heard about the pregnancy heartburn, swelling and constant trips to the bathroom. I was prepared for the sting of the epidural and the pangs of labor. I had survived it all—almost sailed through it. The babies were here and the title of Mom was mine.
Then it happened. We took our new arrivals home and learned an important lesson—while people often talk about the challenges of pregnancy and delivery, very few tell you the brutal honesty of just how hard the first few weeks of parenthood are.
And when I say hard, I mean hard. The kind of hard that feeds guilt, induces resentment, and makes you question not only your capabilities as a parent, but also your worth as a person.
A new child has a way of pulling the rug beneath you at a time when you aren’t at your physical, mental or emotional best. It coldly drops you on your butt wondering, “What’s happening to me?” and “Is that wailing baby really mine?”
It does get easier. But until you and your little one adjust to your new life, here are a few things to keep in mind during the bumpy beginning:
Go easy on yourself
I know, I know. You want to be Supermom. But give yourself some time to grow into the role. It's hard to be amazing at anything when your hormones are changing, your body is healing and your sleep is severely limited. Forgive yourself for not being perfect and celebrate your daily successes.
Go easy on your baby
Despite the inconsolable crying, the diaper blowouts and the nipple biting, your baby isn’t as vengeful as it seems. Remember, your little one is new to the world, too, and is learning and growing just as you are. There were moments when I thought my babies hated me and I was doing everything wrong. Your baby does love you; it just hasn’t learned how to show it yet. Hang in there—your baby’s adorable smile is waiting to debut. And it’s a sweet reward.
It's hard to admit you need help, but chances are you'll need it. Whether its professional help from a lactation consultant or a friend doing a load of laundry, others' efforts can go a long way. And, people like to help, especially when a cute baby is involved. Remember that accepting help isn't about harping on your weaknesses: it's about celebrating others’ strengths and support.
Find some normalcy
Once your baby comes, your whole world turns upside down and it takes a while before you know which end is up. It's easy to feel abandoned as you are quickly stripped of your sense of normal. Find ways to remind yourself that while your life is different, it's still a part of the life you know. For me, it was evening walks with my husband with our new arrivals. Keeping just part of my usual routine helped me feel comforted in a time of intense change.
In my first weeks of motherhood, I asked a friend why no one warns you of just how hard the beginning is. "You forget," she said. And it's true. One day you’re doing your thing and realize that along the way, things have gotten easier.
When you’re in the midst of the storm, it seems like it will last forever. But this too shall pass. Try (and I know it's hard) to appreciate it before it does. This is a special time and the disasterous moments will make the best stories later!
Those first few weeks are chaotic and challenging, but, be assured, in them you’ll create some of sweetest, blessed memories of parenthood.