January 18, 2016

To Moms with Newborns

To Moms with Newborns

 

After I had my second child, it took me a while to adjust to having two children. (Obviously, since I have taken a 9 month maternity leave from my blog!) Before I had baby #2, my first child, who was almost 2 ½, was my whole world. I absolutely adored him. I was a stay at home mom, and although I was going to school, most of my time was spent with him. I could do homework, clean my house, and even prep dinner during his nap time. When he was awake, I gave a lot of one-on-one attention to him. I even wrote an article about how I was worried I wouldn’t be able to love my second child as much as I loved the first! Obviously when I had my second baby all of that changed. I am a huge sucker for babies–especially newborns. I immediately fell in love with her. This new little babe required a lot of my attention and the multiple hours of one-on-one time with my first were soon forgotten. This was really hard for me to accept. I felt so guilty for not being able to give my first child as much attention as he was used to, but I also felt guilty for not being able to give my new baby as much attention as I did with my first baby (and I really wanted to just snuggle her all day long.) My heart strings were being pulled in two different directions.
At that time we were also building a house and had to live in an apartment while it was being built. Our house was supposed to be done before I had the baby, but it took many more months to finish than planned. Our apartment was tiny and dark and smelt like cigarette smoke. Since I had a newborn, I didn’t want to go out much to avoid her being exposed to illness, so we were stuck in that dark, smelly place for the majority of the day. I know this is not a big deal to a lot of people, and many people have to live like that all the time, but it was really hard on me. I didn’t know it at the time, but I think it’s safe to say I was depressed.

I am a perfectionist, which is a hard thing to be as a mother. I felt like both of my children needed my undivided attention 100% of the time, or else I was a bad mother. I also wanted to be skinny, cook healthy meals every night, train for a half marathon, have a clean and organized house, and have a happy husband all at the same time. Every time I would think about all of my goals I would get anxiety so bad because I knew I couldn’t do all of it. One day I went crazy and decided that I wasn’t going to do anything other than spend time with my kids. I stopped cleaning, cooking, and getting ready. Basically I spent the days playing and sleeping with my kids. My husband would come home from work to a complete mess and turkey sandwiches for dinner. I remember him asking me one night what was wrong. He said that I seemed sad lately. I told him that nothing was wrong. And the truth is I really didn’t feel sad. I didn’t feel anything at all; I had no emotion. I had no desire to clean, or make dinner, or even get ready for the day. We talked about this and after realizing that I did indeed have depression, he asked how he could help. After we talked that night things started to get better. I realized that I needed to get out of the house more (for me and for my little boy-he loves to be outside.) I realized that my children were perfectly happy, and they knew that their mother loved them. Most children have siblings and manage perfectly fine, right?! And unfortunately I needed to start cleaning again! Living in that nasty place and making it even nastier was not helping the situation at all. And I just needed time—time to adjust. And I did eventually adjust.

I remember wanting to write an article for my blog about finding balance since I felt like I had finally found it. I was going to write about how I do a quick pick-up around my house every night to start the next day off right, how I plan all my meals in advance to help me eat healthy throughout the week, and how I make sure to take a few hours to myself each week. But, I realized that there is no single solution to find balance that works for everyone. I had a lot of people tell me that they adjusted to two kids perfectly fine; some people thought that the adjustment to one child was harder than the adjustment to two; and some people agreed that the adjustment to two was even harder than the adjustment to five! The point is, that everyone handles things differently. We can’t give an ends-all solution to people and promise them happiness. So, I just want to tell moms with new babies—whether it’s your first or fifth—you are doing a great job! It’s okay if you feel like you would rather stay in your sweats all day and play on the floor with your kids. It’s okay if you want to leave the baby in the bouncer and take a bath just to take time for yourself. It’s okay if there is a sink full of dirty dishes and a never-ending laundry pile. It’s okay if you don’t feel like yourself. It’s okay if you can’t seem to get a hang of the new change. You are not a failure, you are an amazing mother and you love your children; and they know it. And you WILL eventually get the hang of things. Your house will be clean again, you will feel like yourself again, and you will adjust. Having a newborn is hard! You are trying to get to know this new little person and what their needs are. You are sleep deprived. And on top of that you have your other family members to take care of and other personal responsibilities. For now, just know that you are trying your best and you are doing what is most important right now: loving your children. Enjoy this stage. I look back on those moments when I did nothing but sleep with my baby, play with my kids, and cuddle them all day long and I miss it so much. They truly brought me so much happiness. Being a mother is one of the most rewarding things you will ever do and it will bring a love to your heart you didn’t know existed-but if you are a mother, you already know that.

With Love, Jaisha

Disclaimer: If you feel like you have postpartum depression, please tell your doctor! This post is meant to help with the challenges that all mothers feel at some time or another, not for those who have depression. I am not trying to tell you to wait it out. Get the help that you need! And don’t feel bad about it at all. Postpartum depression is extremely common and it does not mean you don’t love your baby!

 

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