2 Secrets Moms With Newborns Don’t Share

New moms have to make huge adjustments during the first six months of their newborn’s life – some are a little bit scary.

Everything changes. 

One minute all the attention is on you:  Your husband makes midnight runs for food you crave. Strangers affectionately pat your belly. Friends and family ask how they can help and regularly check-in to see how you feel. 

You labor long and hard to deliver your precious bundle, and suddenly the attention shifts.  Everyone wants to know how the baby is doing.

The months after birth are physically and emotionally stressful.  You experience an infinite series of changes during the first year, and some of them are a bit scary.

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Feeling alone and overwhelmed is typical, but misery multiplies when we think we’re the only ones who feel this way. 

Trust me

After talking with moms in the counseling office for the last twenty-five years, I guarantee, your secret feelings are more common than you think.  So, let’s bring them into the light and diffuse their power.

Secret # 1 - I feel guilty that I’m not more madly in love with my baby.

Love at first sight is as rare with a baby as it is with an adult. Giving birth is like running a marathon. It consumes every ounce of your physical, mental, and emotional energy. 

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After nine months of carrying and waiting for your little one’s arrival, you’re relieved and excited to finally cross the delivery finish line. You’re also utterly exhausted.  Weary to the bone. Beyond dog-tired. You need time to absorb all you’ve been through and to restore on every level.

I often hear moms say that they ‘fake’ feeling in love with their baby, for fear of being judged as a bad mom. It can start as early as when the hospital nurse brings the baby to feed, and all they want to do is pull the covers over their head and be left alone.  To silence suspicions, they pretend to be happy. I get it.

I remember an incident when our first born was 2 months old. I hadn’t slept well for weeks. My stitches hurt, my breast was on fire from infection, and I was sporting a fever of 101.  A vivacious lady bounced up to me in the Doctor’s office waiting room. She coood and ahhhd at my baby, and with starry eyes declared all dreamy, “Isn’t motherhood WONDERFUL!!!!?”

I smiled and secretly concluded, “I must be missing something.”

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Tip – Give yourself grace.  It takes time to settle in, heal, and build loving bonds with your baby.  You’ll gradually feel more loving as you keep caring for your baby and slowly but surely regain balance.

Secret # 2 – I’m worried that I’ll never get back to really enjoying life.

Most women take months to recover after giving birth.  They rarely get the rest they need to bounce back after their intense physical output.  Sleep deprivation makes things worse. 

The less you sleep the more you worry.

Giving birth leaves your body feeling like it has been in a wreck.  Everything changes.  3 days after delivery, huge hormonal shifts occur.  Things seem haywire because they are.  I recently interviewed my good friend and nationally renowned Psychiatrist, Dr. Warner Swarner, to better understand how these post-partum hormone shifts impact brain chemistry and the way we feel. 

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The first few months after your baby arrives are a fog.  You can’t concentrate like you used to, you feel like a blob, can’t wear the clothes you want to wear, and your house is likely messier.  You have a fragile baby, completely dependent on you, that cries all the time, and it’s hard to figure out what it needs. 

Your husband is probably feeling a little, or a lot left out, depending on how he’s wired.  I have yet to meet a new father who doesn’t feel like nearly all of his wife’s emotional energy is going to their newborn.  It makes sense, because it simply is the way things are for the first few months.

There are moments of warmth and joy when your baby finishes nursing and looks up at you, or cuddles close and falls asleep in your arms.   But until your baby starts smiling, eight to twelve weeks later, your relationship is like a one-way street of self-sacrificing, other-centered give, give, give, from you to your baby. 

In and of itself, that one-way giving is a brilliant display of unconditional love, whether you ‘feel loving’ or not.   Gradually you begin to establish a rhythm. A few months later, after a bit more sleep, and a bit more energy, your baby surprises you with a smile, and bam, you suddenly feel the love!

Tip: Be open to as much help as possible.  You can’t get too much. The first few months are a time for you to be with your baby, and to restore your own balance.  The healthier you get, the more you’ll enjoy your baby and your life.  Give yourself permission to let some things go.

In five or six months, your baby will begin noticing that the world is bigger than just you. He or she will begin to separate and move outward to explore.  And that’s about the time when you’ll likely begin to notice an increased capacity to more fully enjoy life, both with and beyond your baby.

Pam Vredevelt

Pam Vredevelt

Pam Vredevelt is a Professional Counselor and Coach, Best-selling author of Empty Arms, and the Empty Arms Journal. Jessie Vredevelt Schultz is a business consultant and transformation coach. They co-lead Healing Your Empty Arms: A transformation experience after the loss of your baby or child, for emotional healing, personal growth, and spiritual renewal.

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