Dear New Mom,
Look at you! You did it! You survived the birth process! Or the adoption process, in which case holy crap, look at you. Just as painful, more drawn out, and they don’t give you any drugs. Go you.
In any case, you did the thing and now you have a child. I could tell you this time with a new baby will be the most exquisite and rewarding time in your life. But you did not come here for me to straight up lie to your beautiful, tired face.
The shit is about to get real and I am about to tell you all the things I wish someone had told me. Or, quite frankly, the things they DID tell me and I didn’t listen.
- You have to eat food. More than once a day. Actual food, not just whatever was within reach when the baby latched on or finally fell asleep on you. You might think this is the most obvious thing in the world. In a normal universe, this would be true. This, however, is Sparta, and when you are twelve hours deep into your day and your vision starts to swim because the last thing you ate was a handful of Ritz crackers yesterday, you will wish you had taken this advice. If you can’t remember to eat, designate someone to remind you.
- You’re probably going to bonk the baby’s head on a doorframe at least once. You’re probably going to cut them with the nailclippers at least twice. Everyone’s done it, even if they won’t admit to it. They’ll be fine. There’s a reason they don’t remember the first year. It’s either nature or head injury but in either case, it works in your favour.
- I don’t care how much you adore your partner, there will come a point in time where you look at them and truly, madly, deeply loathe them with every fibre of your being. It will probably go away. Don’t make any permanent decisions in the first year. Divorce is expensive and you are too tired to cover up a murder without getting caught. If you find it’s not going away, there is no shame in talking it out, either with your partner or a counselor. It will get easier. You will even have sex again! (Caution: this occasionally leads to more babies.)
- Memorize the phrase “This is what works for us.” A new parent draws more unwanted and shitty opinions than the average internet comments section. No matter how well-meant, you are about to be faced with a barrage of advice that may or may not have merit. It is okay to shut it down. “Thanks, but this is what works for us.” End of conversation. Done. You can figure this out yourself, just like people have been doing since the dawn of time. That said…
- Accept the help. Oh my god, I cannot stress this enough. If someone you trust offers to watch the baby for an hour so you can sleep or shower or go scream into the void for a bit, do it. It will probably save your sanity. You are going to need your sanity.
- Post-partum anxiety and depression are no fucking joke. I mean it. If you even start to think you are heading to the bad place, seek help. You are not alone.
- Breastfeeding is amazing. Formula is amazing. Any combination of the two is amazing. Feed that kid. Anyone who tells you that you’re doing it wrong can go choke.
- You may have held your baby for the first time and felt that incredible rush of maternal love everyone talks about. And… you may not have. For a while, it might feel like your home has been invaded by a tiny stranger. You might even look at this squalling loaf of infant and resent it for disrupting every single bloody thing in your life. You might feel this and then feel impossibly guilty. Don’t. It doesn’t make you a bad parent. It makes you a human being who is in the depths of the kind of change you can’t comprehend until you’re in it. Eventually, you will love that child more than you ever thought possible.
- You are perfectly within your legal rights to punch anyone who asks you if your baby is sleeping through the night yet. (Okay, you are within your rights to imagine it in vivid detail.)
You’re gonna do just great. You really are. You can stop reading and go take a deep breath now.
A mom who survived to toddlerhood
Dear Moms of Older Children,
HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELP I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING HEEEEEEEEEEEELP