Yikes, that sounded a little strong. Hate is a powerful word, so let me rephrase that. I really, strongly, passionately disliked the newborn phase. You know all those Instagram- perfect, fairy-tale pictures where the new mama is dressed flawlessly with a full face of makeup and perfectly done hair, that has the right airy filter on her professional photos she had done by a birth photographer? The post usually reads something like “From the moment they laid you on my chest, I instantly felt an undying love, and everything seemed right in my world”. While childbirth is such a beautiful thing, and babies are the most precious gift from above, I just didn’t feel that moment in the least.
For about the first four months postpartum, when people would ask how motherhood was, I always described it as messy. Indeed, it is a beautiful mess, but a mess, nonetheless.
Although when I became a mother, I was two weeks shy of turning 20 years old. Maybe I still had some growing up to do, didn’t quite know how to fully function as a mature adult yet, and the furthest from being in the “having my life together” stage (is that even a real thing?). Bottom line, I really disliked the newborn stage.
Let’s be honest, there really is no such time as the “right time”. Life just happens how it happens. However, bringing a child into the world in an unstable relationship, dropping out of college, not really in the best financial status, never mind being so young, really isn’t the ideal time to have a baby. There was a lot of stress, and I wish I had been in a better place mentally to enjoy the newborn stage.
My delivery process was no easy feat. My son was a week past his due date before my doctor decided to induce me. On top of that, after 19 hours of induced labor, he wasn’t coming, and was stuck in the birth canal. After almost 24 hours in the hospital, I gave birth via emergency C-section. It was 3 am, and I was delirious, exhausted, hungry, and scared. I remember when they finally laid my son on my chest, I had an insane amount of guilt because I was just staring right at him almost emotionless. I’m going to be honest, I’m envious of those beautiful birth scenes where the mother and father are bursting into tears with pride and joy. I loved my son with every ounce of my being, but I truly felt numb to motherhood.
The next three nights in the hospital were pretty close to you know where. I was throbbing in pain from my C-section, stressed because we couldn’t even afford to get food from an outside restaurant, putting up with all of the eager family visitors coming in and out, and dealing with the pressure of figuring out how to raise this tiny human. I just wanted to sleep. Desperately, but my sweet baby boy just loved me so much and wanted all my time and attention, while being awake.
We made it though. My only hope was that coming home, maybe things would look up. Surely by being in the comfort of my own home, in my bed and in privacy, I could relax. Insert a big “LOL” here. My fiancé at the time had to go back to work the day after we came home from the hospital due to being our only financial support, having no PTO, and bills needing to get paid. I was all alone most of the time. I was scared. How on earth was I supposed to be responsible for keeping this baby alive and well?
“Breast is best” advocates really made me want to punch someone in the throat at that time. Of course I believe breast feeding is the best, natural option for feeding your child; however, that was close to the cringiest things I’ve done. I hate being touched. I can’t do it. I’m not a physically affectionate person. I tapped out not even four weeks in. Constantly waking up soaked, changing breast pads all day, and just feeling engorged and uncomfortable were the last things I needed. I wanted to feel like myself again.
Postpartum depression is no joke. According to statistics done by The Cleveland Clinic, 50-75% of new mothers experience the “baby blues”. 15% of these women will develop postpartum depression. That’s a crazy high number, and I was one of them.
The sleepless nights. Oh my, my, my. They were not joking when they said “sleep while you can before the baby arrives.” Because my son’s father was working so hard 12-14 hours a day providing for us, it just seemed right that I needed to be the one who got up through out the night. I hate asking for help and am very head strong about being independent. But boy, did waking up every other hour five times a night really cause a lot of resentment towards my partner. I was at the point where I’d do anything to get my son to sleep through the night, and we rode that roller coaster for the next 11 months of his life.
The newborn stage was rough. I compared my life to everyone. I compared my experience to everyone and held an insane amount of guilt due to me not being “happy”. I felt like a failure, or I wasn’t fit to actually be a mother. But you know what? Here we are almost three years later. My son is thriving. He is my best friend. He doesn’t remember anything about the newborn stage, thankfully. He and I are in this together, learning day by day, and I will forever have that undying love for him.
Mama, if you didn’t love the newborn stage, don’t beat yourself up. Everyone’s story is different, and motherhood really IS messy. You aren’t alone. We’ll get through this, one sleepless night at a time. And you know what? Your baby is going to turn out A-ok. Cheers, mama!