I’m writing this from my favorite patio spot. There’s a hot cup of coffee on the table to my left, and a baby bouncer on the floor on my right. My newborn is watching me type, happily bouncing up and down as I move my foot in a gentle motion.
And you’re here because you’re a new mom and you’re feeling overwhelmed. You just had a newborn and you’re feeling inadequate. Tired. Maybe you’re a new mom and feeling trapped.
I hear you. Oh, I hear you loud and clear.
Does having a baby get easier? If you’re a new mom with a baby and you’re feeling sad, trapped, or wondering if having a baby gets better, welcome.
I’m the hand you can grab right now because I’m in the trenches of newbornhood right here with you. You don’t need to take my hand, but sometimes someone just holding it out to you is all you need to get through it.
I’m here with some good news: yes, things are going to get better.
Things are about to get SO MUCH BETTER.
Having a baby DOES get easier.
I promise all of these things.
I’ve never been good at lying, so take me at my word.
Having a Newborn Gets Easier
I wrote this blog post because that’s how strongly I feel about the new mom to a newborn feelings; I so understand what you are going through at this very moment.
My baby, who is bouncing along next to me as I write this, is my third son and is currently 2-months old. I’m bouncing him with one foot while I type with two hands. I have a coffee to my side and life is great.
It really is. I’m/we’re all adjusting pretty well to a family of 5. I feel extremely blessed.
And if you’re reading that thinking, ok lady, THREE kids? Are you certifiably crazy?
I thought the same thing when I brought home baby #1.
I told my husband, “How do people actually have more than one baby? That is INSANE. Ridiculously crazy. I can’t even imagine.”
And yeah, I believed that. But I have three kids now and life is awesome. I wouldn’t ever want to go back to life before kids. It seems like a whole different world. As you dip your toes into the water of your new life as a mom to a baby, it might feel uncomfortable at first. But hear me out.
So, read my letter to you, you sweet new mom with a newborn.
To a New Mom with Newborn Feeling Overwhelmed
Dear New Mom to a Newborn,
You just had a baby and you feel anxious, or overwhelmed, or maybe you feel like crying all the time.
Maybe a mix of all three? Oh, and kick in a huge dose of tired right about now.
Exhaustion, really. You’ve never been so tired in your whole life.
You may have passed by yourself in a mirror today and thought, oh my gosh, my under-eye bags just brought carry-ons.
I know this because MY undereye bags are no longer cute designer ones, but huge suitcases and — oh man, they definitely packed carry-on bags this time. 😉
Ha! I laugh because that’s the state of my eyes right now. Concealer be damned! And I know all of that doesn’t matter right now in this season of life.
Perhaps you also caught sight of your body and gave yourself all the negative vibes. Stop that, by the way. That negative self talk isn’t good for anyone.
Besides, you don’t even have the energy to care right now. You’re so freaking tired.
It’s not just the tiredness from the sleepless nights or the constant feedings, diaperings, and comfortings when your newborn baby is crying.
You’re emotionally tired, too.
Maybe you’re crying yourself — and that’s OK. Sometimes, you just gotta let it out.
After all, your world feels completely UPSIDE-DOWN.
Things felt “regular” and now, things feel so weird!
If you just gave birth, your body hurts. You just went through an incredible miracle of life, giving birth to a newborn.
Or perhaps you just became a mom through adoption.
No matter the way it all came about, you’re a new mom with a newborn and you’re feeling overwhelmed. You’re feeling sad. Maybe you’re feeling inadequate or you’re feeling trapped.
Again, all totally normal.
You’re looking at your baby right now and feeling all the happy things, all the wonder, the excitement, but also all the unknowns. And it can be pretty startling, am I right?
You waited so many months for this moment, taking care of your baby. You pictured it. You saw what it was like through family and friends who have gone through it.
You knew having a baby would be tough, but man, this is TOUGH.
You’re supposed to be happy, right? So why do you feel so sad?
People ask how you’re doing, but you try to sugarcoat it because aren’t you supposed to be all smiles, and happy and shit?
Maybe you’re even feeling this nugget of truth: My life will never be the same again.
That’s totally normal.
Having a baby is a huge life shift and it really hits hard the first time. You may be feeling things like, what did we do? as in, what did we actually, freaking do?!
And you’re not a bad mom for thinking that. You’re actually an awesome mom. You feel this change because you are going through it.
You’re completely, utterly confused at life right now and everything feels upside-down and on its side. You’re doubting you’ll ever feel like life is “normal” again.
Or that you’ll never sleep again.
After feeling these things for so long, you are desperate for hope.
So, what do you do? You go online. You try to find someone, anyone, to tell you, the new mom with a newborn, that feeling overwhelmed is standard practice and you’ll start feeling better soon.
You are grasping at straws here. You’re desperate for some kind of light at the end of the tunnel. You just want someone to tell you that you’re not alone.
Believe me, you are NOT alone.
You click on an online forums filled with sarcastic comments from people who spout off things that don’t make you feel any better, things like, “yeah, get used to it, this is your life now”, or, “sleep? ha! what’s that?!”
They think it’s funny.
But in reality, it makes you — someone who just had a baby and feels overwhelmed — feel ABSOLUTELY helpless.
And that is cruel, really.
I went to the world’s worst pediatrician. This guy was THE worst. He is obviously no longer my kids’ doc. But I clearly recall, in a moment of needing reassurance, I asked him through tired, teary eyes: “Does it get easier?”
What do you think he did? Or said? This man, in charge of babies and kids and supposedly empathic to others?
He laughed. And rolled his eyes.
Then he followed it with, “Nope. It actually gets harder. I know because I have 4 and it still isn’t any easier.” But he wasn’t trying to be funny. He truly believed it, which is total b.s.
Now, anyone knows that a new mom in tears, one day postpartum, needing at the very least a little glimmer of hope certainly doesn’t need to hear THAT.
And that doc turned out to be a major jerk in other ways, too, but now is not the time to get into it.
Bottom line, don’t listen to the negative. Get rid of the negative. Focus on the positive.
If you were already feeling like you’re not rockin’ this new mom with a newborn thing, comments like that from people who are supposed to be helpful or strangers on the internet who vent after a long day certainly doesn’t help.
PSA: Srsly, stop reading online forums on this particular topic. They can be great for other helpful tips and things, but not as a place for moms to vent when you’re just starting to get your footing.
When I brought home our firstborn, I was completely thrown for a loop.
I was happy, don’t get me wrong: I was delighted in all of the baby smells, coos, and sweet smiles as he dozed off to sleep. I’d always wanted kids. But I felt a tremendous amount of responsibility: THIS IS A HUGE COMMITMENT OMG WHAT DID WE JUST DO?
And you don’t want to say those words out loud. Why would you? People would think you were absolutely crazy. Nuts.
They’d tell you to get over it. They would say the words that you know are true:
“Well? What did you expect? This is what you wanted.”
And you’d be left there feeling like, you know what, you’re right, this is exactly what I wanted.
So why am I, a mom with a newborn feeling overwhelmed?
Why am I, a mom with a new baby feeling like a failure? Alone? Trapped?
It’s a bunch of different things like hormones and life shifting and taking care of a human being and the feeling of responsibility for him or her forever.
And here’s what I want to say: you’re not alone.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
I wish I could come right over there and wrap my arms around you and give you a great big hug and tell you everything is going to be alright.
YOU ARE DOING GREAT.
It’s not just going to be alright, it is going to be amazing. You’re in for the thrill of your life.
Things are going to get better, sooner than you think.
Things Will Get Easier
All of these feelings you’re going through are completely normal, even if they hit you a little while after that initial week or two. I wouldn’t lie to you and tell you that it does get better if it didn’t.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Of course, if you have any feelings of darkness, harming oneself or the baby, sad, crying all the time, unable to cope or live normally, CALL YOUR DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY. These are signs of postpartum depression and you need to speak to your doctor. Don’t wait for it to get better, speak to your doctor first just to be sure.
I remember texting a good friend of mine during those first few weeks, when the exhaustion REALLY HITS HARD. I was just like you: a mom with a newborn feeling overwhelmed.
She, an experienced mom-of-two, told me, “You are in survival mode right now. It gets SO much better. Hang in there.”
I heard the words in my ears, and I wanted to believe her so much… but part of me thought she was lying.
I felt like, wow, that’s great for HER but that’s not the case for me. Maybe everyone else, but I’m a new mom feeling inadequate and this sucks and I’ll never feel better again.
So, I completely understand if you don’t believe a word I’m saying. Fine! I’ll accept that.
But just know that in THREE MONTHS time, you’ll be back here telling me I was kind of, sort of, exactly right. 😉
The 3 Month Mark: What Every Mom Needs to Know
Here’s the advice you need, even if you don’t buy it:
Give it 3 Months.
When is your baby turning 3 months?
Write that date down. Circle it. HIGHLIGHT IT. Scribble it on the mirror with lipstick.
There’s an incredible thing that happens right around the time your baby turns 3 months. Things get easier.
The fog lifts.
You have a routine established.
You start to realize that things are falling right into place and wow, you’re sort of rocking this whole mom thing.
Your baby might be sleeping through the night, or at least for longer periods of time at once. This means you’ll be sleeping a bit more again.
Someone told me: Give it 3 Months.
They were the me in this scenario right now. They were a parent of three, telling me to give it three months, and I was a mom to a newborn and feeling totally inadequate. Scared. Sad. And overwhelmed!
I said, ok, I’ll do that. But in the back of my mind I thought, just you wait, in 3 months I’ll be even further sucking at this new mom thing.
So, I counted three months from when my baby was born and that was the date ahead of me.
I wrote it down. Imagined it in my head.
I told myself, “Emma, in 3 months, this will get easier. That’s just 12 weeks. I can do that. One week done, then two weeks…”
And even though it sounded like that many months was light-years away, it helped me to see the light.
When things got tough in the middle of the night, I thought, okay, but we’re on week four, so let’s just wait it out. We can do this.
Mornings turn into nights. Days turn into weeks.
Week six, seven… nine, ten… they start rolling and pick up momentum.
And then holy cow.
It wasn’t like he turned 3 months and poof! While you’re busy, it hits you when you’re least expecting it.
For me, it was one day, out of the blue. I was sitting with my baby in my arms, hanging out with Andrew and I said to him, “Life is pretty fun right now and I’m feeling like I’m getting better at this mom thing,” and something along the lines of, “LOOK AT US, WE’RE DOING IT!”
He agreed, and it was in that moment I realized something: he’s 3 months old.
That advice? Ok, so it WAS right after all.
So, if you’re a mom to a newborn and you’re feeling stressed out…
… you’re feeling like life is never going to be the same…
… it does get a whole lot easier and more fun. I promise.
You don’t have to believe me.
But it will happen: you’re going to feel SO MUCH BETTER in 3 months regardless of whether or not you think I’m full of it. 😉
Maybe you’re on week one. Maybe this is day 2. Maybe this is week ten and you’re still feeling like life is upside-down.
Maybe you just reached four weeks and it felt like an eternity and you’re wondering, how will I ever get to twelve weeks, that sounds like forever!
It goes by faster than you think.
As a mom to three boys, who have changed my life in all the best ways possible, I’m here for you.
I’m rooting for you.
I’m here in the trenches myself, rocking this sweet baby boy at 2 months and I know that in a few weeks it will get even easier.
It is easier after having one, and honestly, going from 2 to 3 has been the easiest so far. But to each their own.
Maybe you’ll have one. Maybe you’ll have two. Perhaps a trio, or you’ll go for four, five, or maybe even six.
Each time, it may feel daunting but it gets easier around the 3 month mark.
Grab my hand if you need it, I’m right here with you… but you don’t need to take my hand. You’ve got this.
In a mere 3 months, your life will feel amazingly better.
If it doesn’t, talk to your doctor, by all means. Or if you can’t shake feelings of total darkness or depression. He or she can help.
But I’m pretty certain that, through all of this craziness, you’ll see that light around the 12 week mark and I’m so excited for you to see it.
You are going to come out on the other side stronger for it.
You’re a mom now. And you’re a damn good one.
How do I know that, a stranger on the internet and all? Because you have to go through it to get through it.
Sounds dumb and repetitive, but we all, as moms and dads, have to go through it to GET through it.
And we all come out on the other side. Better for it, might I add.
Soon, I’ll see you there, more refreshed and with (less) bags under our eyes. Or at least a really kickass concealer.
Your days will start to feel more predictable.
Life with a baby will be fun and enjoyable. Is it tough? It can be at times, but then again, so are you.
You will feel excited rather than anxious for the weeks ahead.
So, look ahead, but also don’t rush it. These days are priceless and fleeting.
But if needed, put that 3 month mark on the calendar. Let it lead you to the light. And you’ll see, maybe, just maybe, that stranger on the internet? She was right all along. 🙂
P.S. Don’t be a stranger! Please feel free to comment below or email me anytime you need a little encouragement. And please, do see a doctor if you can’t seem to stop crying or have any dark thoughts, those are signs of post partum depression and the earlier you speak to your doctor, the better. You’re also not alone in feeling depressed, as it happens to many new moms with newborns.