Throughout your pregnancy you prepared for your baby’s arrival. You set up a nursery, bought a stroller (and many other things), and stocked up on diapers. If you planned to breastfeed, you bought a pump and read breastfeeding tips.
What’s harder to plan for are the ways your life will change after you bring a baby into it. Your little one is completely dependent on you at the beginning, so naturally you have less time for the things you used to do. The good news is that they’re not lost forever. As your child becomes more and more independent, you’ll have time to get back to these:
If your new baby is a good sleeper, know that the rest of us are wildly jealous. Most new babies wake up frequently for food or snuggles, and that means you’re tired. You may feel down, snap at your partner, cry for no apparent reason, or pour orange juice into your cereal instead of milk.
Just do your best, mama. Sleep training is around the corner.
You and your partner used to talk about work, the news, or the latest episode of the show you were binge-watching. Now you talk about nasal aspirators and how many times your baby peed and pooped that day. You also talk about the type of poop. This is okay, because the amount and type of dirty diapers is actually important! You will be with friends who don’t have kids, gushing about the latest adorable thing your baby did. You’ll notice their eyes glaze over and you’ll try to talk about something else, but try as you might you just can’t remember how to talk about anything other than your baby.
Just don’t talk to them about his poop.
What’s more romantic than breast pumps and all those conversations about dirty diapers? Or kissing your spouse with breastmilk or formula all over your shirt and probably some spit-up in your hair? When you get the green light from your doctor to have sex, it might be hard to get into the mood with the baby monitor glowing beside the bed, the image of your sleeping/about to wake up babe ever present in the corner of your eye.
Keep the lines of communication open with your partner. You can get through this and move on to the next stage, which is your toddler walking in on the act.
Forget brushing your hair. If you manage to find time to take a shower and wash the spit up out of it, just run your fingers through it and call it a day. You only have a few moments to spare these days, so use those to dot a little concealer under your sleep-deprived eyes. You may burst into tears every time you walk past the wedding photo showing you in your rested, brushed-haired glory, but don’t worry.
Regular showers (and time to brush your hair) will return, even though your toddler may want to sit on the bath mat and talk about his trucks the entire time you bathe.
You used to read! Cook elaborate meals! Meet your girlfriends after work for tea or a cocktail! Go to the movies!
As you dedicate the majority of your time to your baby, your own needs naturally take second place. Well-meaning folks will use the airplane oxygen mask analogy to tell you that you must take care of yourself in order to take care of your baby. You can’t ignore your needs entirely of course, but the truth is that as long as you’re not dealing with postpartum depression or another situation that may affect your functioning, you will be able to do things you never imagined you could. One day you will be using a pumping bra while changing your baby with one hand and talking to a friend on the phone (hopefully not about your baby’s poop). Motherhood reveals abilities you never knew you had.
Being a new parent can feel overwhelming, but it’s also a magical time. Watching your baby grow and develop is amazing to witness and be a part of, even with spit-up in your hair.