Why Raising a Newborn is Hard

So many people told us: “Raising a newborn is hard.”

K, thanks-but why?? Any specifics? I need bullet points, a power point-anything!!!

I think parents forget the specifics after hundreds of nights with little sleep . They forget or didn’t have time to identify  the struggle in those first few weeks and months.

I don’t want to forget. Not because I’m bitter, but to better connect the unknown to those coming right towards it. And it might be a good reminder for myself one day when kid #2 comes along. This post is for the pregnant ladies out there and those brewing the thought “Should we have a baby?”. There’s lots of goodness when bringing a child into the world, but I couldn’t see it for the first 6 weeks and below explains why.

Disclaimer: This is from MY perspective. One woman’s perspective. And while it’s true that every momma wants to tell you their side of motherhood, it’s not guaranteed it’ll be true for you. BUT if you do end up experiencing similar feels and thoughts as me then you know you’re not alone and it’s normal.

Feedings 24/7

If you are breastfeeding, say goodbye to physical freedom as your boobs are now on loan for at least 6 months to this tiny human that has already sucked the life out of you the past 9 months and will continue to from the outside. Newborns need to eat every 2-3 hours, 24/7. I might have read something about this prior to delivering but didn’t give it much thought.

Ummmmm. Think about it mommas. This is ALL of your time.

Newborns can take up to an hour to nurse. And as far as timeline, you start the countdown from when they started eating until the next time they need to feed. So if they nurse for an hourish, then you change their diaper, try to get them to sleep and in about another 30 minutes or so it’s time for another feeding. Has anyone told you this?? I sure didn’t know.

This was one of the biggest wake up calls I was slapped with and needed to surrender and just roll with because it’s not changing any time soon and no one else can do what I need to do for this baby.

Secondly, breastfeeding hurts like none other. I’ve had some women tell me it didn’t bother them and others say they’d rather deliver 5 times over than go through the initial breastfeeding phase. You just have to shrug your shoulders either way because if you’re determined to do it, it’s gonna happen. My encouragement to you is that it miraculously gets better. Friends, family,  and lactation consultants all told me it gets easier but I couldn’t comprehend that thought through the pain. I have a million and one more thoughts on this and so maybe another post will come from this topic, but I will lastly say this-go see a lactation consultant if you’re struggling. There’s no shame in needing help in figuring out how to feed your baby. I couldn’t stop the tears the first time I met with the sweetest lady on the planet as she coached me through feeding Maverick.

Warm, Wet Liquids on You Daily

I think this one was a tough new reality for both Brad and I. Our vein hearts were in the spotlight as we would freak out every. single. time. Maverick would spit up or pee on us. We didn’t want our clothes to get ruined and hated having to constantly change (especially if I liked what I was wearing). Having a capsule wardrobe with a newborn is a whole new level of challenge. And when it’s the middle of the night, you’re tired and grumpy, having warm milk that your boobs are working so hard for projectile all over you, your pajamas, the boppy pillow and chair-I just can’t even. Give me strength, dear Lord.

Physical Limitations

This is what sent me spiraling into the baby blues. I knew I liked exercising, but I didn’t realize how much of a lifeline it had become for me until it was taken away. NO physical activity for at least 2 weeks and then very, very slow and mild physical activity for another at least 4 weeks. And this is the path you take after having a “normal” delivery.

As soon as that baby was out I thought “Give me all the spice, pizza, lunch meat, beer and coffee!!!”

Nope. My body just could not handle it and still is major struggling. And for baby-I thought thinking about what I ate while being pregnant was meticulous, it’s even more so now as everything you consume impacts breast milk which can turn your cute baby into a gassy, crying monster.

As you watch your body change and grow a human it’s pretty fun and exciting and you’re amazed at what your body can do. Well it’s amazing what your body looks like after too. Those first 4-6 weeks I felt like I was in the middle of two worlds: “new mom Kirstin” but searching desperately for “pre-baby body Kirstin”. Yay for not being pregnant but who the heck is this and will I ever come back?

Good news-you do. I’m still not there but I’m slowly seeing the transformation back to old me and I’m holding onto hope for complete restoration.

No Reciprocity

In the first 4-6 weeks babies can only communicate through crying and smacking their lips to show their hungry. As a first-time mom this was incredibly challenging. I entered into a new season of life full of sacrifice and giving up my body and there’s no signs of gratitude, recognition or confirmation coming from the very thing I’m giving my life to. This might sound immature of me and that’s basically what it was. I was shedding a layer of immaturity that only parents can understand as you give up so much for the nurturing of another life.

There was a turning point once my dull heart began to understand that this baby and I have a lot to learn about each other-this changed everything. Being pushed out into this world with very limited abilities and an overwhelming need for care presents a huge learning curve not only for baby but also for you as the parent. Once we reached about 6 weeks, both Brad and I felt like we finally got into a groove with our son and could think and plan ahead for his needs instead of all of our actions being reactionary.

Now every baby is different of course, some more cranky than others and we’ve been ridiculously spoiled with a very chill, happy baby. And so once we learned that when he cries it’s for an actual need, we would run through the list of potential solutions and within 10-20 minutes the crying is over and he’s happy again.

Baby Blues are for Real

I was told by a couple honest friends that the baby blues will come but I didn’t give it much thought because there’s nothing I could do about it. So let me be the honest friend that says “No really, baby blues are FOR REAL.”

Turns out that when you’re pregnant, your body is making the most estrogen it ever has at one time. Once you deliver your placenta, a rush of progesterone leaves your body causing an imbalance with estrogen dominating. This brings huge lows in your mood and emotions. (Source) After feeling such a strong connection to my baby in the last half of pregnancy, I felt nothing for him in the first few weeks of having him in my arms. He was a ball of stress to me that took away my freedom and independence. My body hurt all over for many weeks and watching my husband joyfully love him with a perfectly healthy body while I’m over here “suffering” was the toughest part about this whole having-a-baby thing. But it did pass. And I sorta love my little man a whole lot now.

So this pretty much sums up my first 6 weeks with the babe. But things really transformed after 6 weeks. It was a huge turning point and the big reasons for that is breastfeeding finally started feeling natural and both Maverick and I felt in sync, he started smiling around 4 weeks and so that makes your whole world better once that magic enters your life and lastly we started getting out a lot more and so taking him everywhere with us didn’t feel as scary. Just know that this crazy hard season is short and it only gets easier-hang on until week 6 and trust that your new little family will adjust and experience joys you never knew possible.