I seem to be going through another season of the women around me having children and after sending a couple of messages to my cousin I started thinking about how I always seem to pass the same things along to my pregnant friends and family. The advice I give to soon-to-be first time moms can seem a bit off to others. I’m not trying to come off as negative or scary, I’m not trying to freak them out, I’m trying to give them tools that no one ever gave me (I don’t blame this on anyone, I just want my friends and family to know what I experienced so they know I am there for them).
People seem to like to say “get your sleep now, you won’t sleep once the baby comes.” Please DO NOT tell this to a 9-months pregnant woman who has been sleeping sitting up for the past three months because her heartburn is so bad, or who has tossed and turned all night every night for the past two months because she is both incredibly freaked out and totally uncomfortable. Pregnant women might be the most gracious and polite creatures on this planet, and to tell you the truth, I’m not quite sure how we do it. Perhaps responding to these types of comments is the practice that we are getting to deal with tiny tyrant toddlers. We bite our tongues to keep the sassy comments at bay and smile at those who supply them. Sometimes it slips out that we aren’t really sleeping well at the moment either, but it is usually rather politely. Which is surprising given we are trying to deal with the fact that we just don’t want to be pregnant anymore but are simultaneously scared to death of both the actual delivery of our child and the aftermath that comes with it.
Do you want to be helpful? Tell that woman the truth!
Tell her about the time you cried because your husband came home after work and asked you what you did today. You know what I did when my sweet husband asked me that when he came home to me and our sweet two-month-old? I bawled and said “nothing.” I truly felt like I had not done a thing that day. In between feedings, changes, trying to get a little sleep during her naps, and realizing that if I tried to do anything that took more than five minutes she would wake/need food/need a change while I was trying to get said thing accomplished. So rather than get frustrated that I was unable to complete tasks I wouldn’t start them. I would take a quick scroll through my phone, or put on a movie I had seen a million times before and zone out. My sweet sweet husband hugged me, kissed my forehead, wiped my tears and reminded me that I had kept our daughter alive and healthy ALL DAY and that she could not have done that on her own. (Of course, all of your days can’t be like that, life must go on, but some days, its okay if that is all that happens AND this was with my first, adjusting to new mom life is tough, and yes, when the second one comes around, you don’t get to just care for your child all day, your attention is demanded elsewhere).
Tell her about your struggles with nursing, about how you had to visit a lactation consultant. How it hurt so bad every time at the beginning of nursing that you cried through the first minute on each side, and that the second the baby was done you dreaded the next session. Let her know, she is not alone, and that the next week she will be an expert and it won’t hurt anymore (and if it still does, something is wrong and call her doctor). Encourage her not to give up. Give her hope.
Tell her these things BEFORE she has the baby, while her brain is clear, while she can remember that you said them, so that she knows to reach out to you when she is feeling bad/scared/crappy. In our world of happy Instagram and facebook photos it is sometimes hard to admit when things aren’t perfect it can be hard to ask for help and its hard to see what is normal.
Perhaps I am jaded, maybe this isn’t helpful at all and I will come off as super negative, but, please think a bit before you give advice to a soon-to-be-mom or any mom for that matter. We try to let go of the fears and pain we’ve felt in our lives and are often successful in forgetting those moments. That is how we get through life in general, we focus on the good things, and when it comes to our parenting life, the amazing children we have brought into this world. Try to remember what it was like when you didn’t have a clue what you were getting into. What would you have liked to have known the most? What is the most helpful thing anyone told you going into this major life event.