Dear First Time Mom (or Dad)

Happy Valentine’s Day! I feel inspired to write this and I hope that it can help any new parents.

If you have anything to add, please comment. There is no judgement here. There is no mom-shaming here. Just support. Just love.

DEAR FIRST TIME PARENT,

My baby is 5 months next week and I struggled adjusting to motherhood after she was born. Everything felt random. There was no schedule. I was tired. I was lost. Is this the new normal? Time flew by, my confidence grew, and yes… this is the new normal. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

I experienced delayed bonding and that doesn’t make me a monster, even though I felt like it at the time. I was flooded with hormones and birth was complicated. I was SO GRATEFUL for her, but had never taken care of a baby before and even though I took infant care classes and read “all the books” when I was pregnant, I still felt like I was in a foreign country where I didn’t speak the language. It took me time to adjust to this role. As the months go by, we experience these stages together and the journey is something we’ll always share. I learn Noelle and she learns the whole wide world. I loved her at 6:58pm on September 23rd 2017, but the bonding came with time. Now I’m overwhelmed with love. I would move mountains for her smile and her cheeks and her big curious eyes and her little toes!! I can’t imagine life without my girl.

I am, by no means, an expert on motherhood. But if you’re about to have a baby or are in those first few weeks, let me share some lessons I’ve learned in these 5 short months.

You’re taking care of your baby, but it’s also important to take care of yourself. Taking time for yourself or doing something you love doesn’t make you selfish. It makes you a better mom, dad, wife, husband, daughter, son, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, and friend. And it’s ok to ask for help. Even if that’s having a friend come over so you can get your hair cut or take a nap. And if your friend wants to bring dinner, let them.

And, new mom or dad, it’s ok to cry. This is a big change and it’s really hard. Remember you aren’t a bad mom or dad. You’re a new mom or dad having a bad day. It’s unrealistic to think you’ll be a parenting expert overnight. Parenthood is a constant and there will always be a new lesson to learn. And that includes learning from mistakes. I think we’re all sort of making it up as we go! Treat yourself with a little more grace because you’re doing the best you can.

Everything becomes more manageable as weeks go by and I know it’s difficult to believe that when you’re in the thick of it. But literally everything gets better. Stomach is bigger so she eats less often. Fingernails are larger so I don’t sweat bullets every time I cut them. She can hold up her head so carrying her and bathing her is easier. She can play, she can giggle, she can smile, she can roll over, she can sleep longer. Soon she’ll start solids, soon she’ll crawl, soon she’ll say mama, and soon she’ll go to school, make friends, grow up, and I’ll miss being her entire world. I guess what I’m trying to say is: don’t wish these difficult weeks away.

I know it feels daunting to get everything packed in the car and get out of the house, but it’s worth it. Even if that means a quick trip to the grocery store. Fresh air, fresh scenery, fresh faces, make plans, experience life, make memories, bring baby along. I always feel better when I push myself to get up and get out. And, more importantly, baby loves it!

Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about working because a working parent is still a full-time parent. I feel guilty working, I truly do, but I try to remember that I don’t leave “being a mom” behind because I’m working. I’m still Noelle’s mom.

Everything from birth and physically healing to sleeping and feeding were nothing like I expected. Don’t put added pressure on yourself by expecting a certain something. No birth, postpartum journey, and baby are the same so have an open mind. Noelle’s still changing and growing so our routine constantly adjusts. And I’ve learned to be open (not stressed!!!) when things don’t go according to plan. Two steps forward, one step back. Go with the flow. Lighten up. You’ll figure it out!

Stop feeling guilty about everything.

Love,

A new mom who needs to take her own advice

(by Megan Brodie Photography ♥)

PS: above are my cream cheese sugar cookies topped with vanilla buttercream

146 Comments

Comments

  1. Catherine on February 17, 2018 at 4:24 pm

    What an amazingly honest account of being a mum! Thank you. It takes real courage to share so openly of your struggles and joys and that in turn helps so many around to see that it’s normal. Like so many have said before I too wished I had this message when my son was born. I found it hard and didn’t believe that my milk was enough but the nurse kept saying breast is best and you don’t want to deprive him of all the nutrients. I kept going for almost 6 months until both my husband and doctor said that’s enough and put him on formula. I felt guilty and a failure. My son was happier though but it still made me feel like I wasn’t performing up to mark. Then I had comnents made by certain family members that thought it best I only have the one child as I wasn’t coping. This crushed me and it made my husband so angry to hear that such comments were made. My husband was one of the few people in my life that has always believed in me. My son is now 9 years old and is a truly wonderful, thriving, smart, funny and loving fellow. I love him beyond words.
    Now with God’s help and a counsellor I am working to heal the scars and hurt from negative comments and actions that made me feel like a useless failing mother.
    I see so much gteat stuff that I have done for my son. I’m learning heaps especially to apoligise when I gets things wrong and to really enjoy this time as he grows to be a man.
    Sally, you are the best mother for your daughter and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You are doing a great job. And yes, take care of yourself!!
    Apologies for the long post but I really wanted to thank you. You have a lovely family and your dogs are gorgeous. God bless you and thank you for your blog. It’s truly touching lives across this world. If you are ever in Sydney, Australia…love to meet you!

  2. Lou B. on February 17, 2018 at 6:01 pm

    Love this. She’s gorgeous, Sally ❤️

  3. Lisa Jones on February 17, 2018 at 10:23 pm

    Well said Sally! My kids are now 18 and 16 but I still remember those difficult days.

    We do get through it. <3

    Love the pic of you and Noelle!

  4. Sarah on February 18, 2018 at 11:21 am

    You both look so happy! It warms my heart. <3

  5. Emily on February 18, 2018 at 12:35 pm

    Amen to all of this! My second child is almost 3 months old. I had a very difficult time with my first as well, and I find the only thing that has made things much better this time is knowing that the difficult beginning period–and every other phase my child goes through–has an end. With kids, nothing lasts forever. No matter how hard it is–and it IS hard, it really is so much harder than you’d ever think!–it will change, probably in a matter of days.

  6. Jackie on February 18, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    Beautiful! Thank you

  7. Ann on February 19, 2018 at 1:53 pm

    Beautiful and moving words, Sally! I am saving this for when I’m a mom someday :).

  8. Lisa M on February 20, 2018 at 12:13 am

    Well written, Sally. I’m a mother of five amazing kids. ages 2 through 14. I did bond instantly with my first, I had taken care of dozens and dozens of babies before I became a mom, and it was still HARD. VERY HARD. I didn’t know it at the time but my precious first child has sensory processing disorder. She is extremely sensitive to physical touch and sound. It became very obvious when she was a toddler but, when she was a baby it was just plain confusing! She was so unlike any baby I had ever known. And, of course, I had never breastfed a baby before. Nor had I ever had to care for a baby 24/7/365. So, even if you feel prepared, you may be in for a surprise! I have friends who had very easygoing babies the first time but then got thrown a curve ball with a subsequent baby. It’s never the same adventure twice. It’s so worth it, though.

    You learn just as much from your baby as your baby learns from you. Work together and make sure dad gets just as many snuggles and skin-t0-skin time as mom. Babies and dads need each other too.

    Congrats on your baby and the 5 month milestone! Lots more joy, heartache, learning, and growing to come! And it’s all so good.

  9. Hannah on February 20, 2018 at 8:10 pm

    Thank you for this post! I’m currently pregnant with my first baby and am sure I will need to reference this post in the future! Thank you for being so open and candid!

  10. Sarah on February 23, 2018 at 4:48 pm

    I experienced so many of those emotions with my first child. I never told anyone because I was so embarrassed and just didn’t understand why I didn’t feel the way I thought I should. I realized soon after things started to calm down that these feelings were normal, and that I was normal. It got easier and felt more natural over time. My second child’s early days felt much more natural. Thank you for sharing your story. It is obvious now that there are many parents who will benefit from reading these words. 

  11. Grace on February 27, 2018 at 4:18 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Sally. I related with a lot of what you wrote. The part I couldn’t relate to is your picture at the end. How do you have energy to do your makeup, brush your hair, and put on jewelry? I have a 15 month old and have been exhausted for 15 months. I haven’t been able to muster up the energy to do any of the three above in the past 15 months. Where do you find the energy? What’s your secret?

    • Sally on February 28, 2018 at 9:20 am

      Thank you so much Grace. The saying “it takes a village to raise a baby” couldn’t be more true. Luckily, we have a lot of family who live closely and come over often to help out. In the beginning, my MIL would come over so I could nap. It really helped. And today I go to bed when she does, which is so early, so I can feel more rested.

  12. Katie on March 6, 2018 at 12:45 pm

    YES! I could have written this myself. Thanks for sharing your story.

  13. Lisa on April 20, 2018 at 11:12 am

    Noelle is adorable!!!! Thank you so much for this post! I just had my second daughter and she is the complete opposite of my first!! I can so relate to not bonding right away and feeling terrible about it!
    It has been a struggle adjusting to having 2 children, and with the second being extremely fussy and colicky, its been an uphill battle for me emotionally. So thanks for sharing your experience 🙂 it reminds me there is hope and to enjoy every moment, even the difficult times, because time flies by so quickly!

    • Sally on April 21, 2018 at 10:55 am

      Oh Lisa. Thank you so much for this sweet comment. Congratulations on your daughter (daughters!). I only have 1, so I can’t imagine the adjustment to two especially if the 2nd isn’t like the 1st. Hugs to you, mama! Hang in there!

  14. Shannon on May 31, 2018 at 10:30 pm

    You have a truly beautiful daughter! Wonderfully written – I wish I had someone to say those things to me back in the day! My daughter is 16 now and there are different challenges now but I will still say those newborn days were still the most difficult stage for me in terms of feeling alone and like a failure. Love this post so much!

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