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

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

146 Comments

  1. This is so raw and honest and even though it’s been 11+ years for me since I walked in your shoes, I walked in them. And I will never forget. It is HARD.

    I think some women are cut out to have lots of babies, it may be ‘easy’ for them, or definitely easier than it was for me, or they are more natural at it than I was, or they make it seem easier than I perceived it to be that is for sure. I know was meant to have one precious baby and that is it. One that I love dearly, with all my heart and soul, and will walk the ends of the earth for, but it was not easy in the beginning. You are on the right side of the curve right now; it will get easier and easier. Until you get to puberty 🙂

    Happy Valentine’s Day to you all! xo

  2. Perfectly expressed Sally!  Wishing you, Kevin and sweet Noelle a lovely first Valentine’s Day full of love, smiles, giggles and cookies!

  3. So well written and so very true! I especially think the two steps forward, one step back thing is so true. Sometimes you do for backwards and it can seem so difficult. But it does get better eventually (something I still have to tell myself at almost 10 months…).

  4. A beautiful, heartfelt message. Thank you for sharing your journey, Sally. For those that have not yet begun this journey, to those in the throes of it, and to those that have sweet memories of the time when our babies were small…these words resonate with truth and light. Keep navigating with joy…you are exactly where you are meant to be… ♥️

  5. Thank you for your post, I started crying almost immediately.. I felt like you had written this for me. My baby girl is 3 days old today and wow is this hard. I understand every word you say. I’m overwhelmed with everything that is happening.. thank you for encouraging us first-timers to keep moving forwars and to remember that it will all get better! Happy Valentine’s Day Sally!! Enjoy the day off with Noelle and hubby. 

  6. This is so true if your a first time, second time or more mom. Giving birth, recovery and taking care of a new baby can be so difficult and overwhelming, it’s not always magical like you picture it will be. With my first, my brother died when I was 7 months pregnant and post partum depression hit me hard trying to navigate being a new mom, grieving and trying to keep my parents afloat in their grief. With my second baby, it was hard to adjust from one to two with a 5 year old that wasn’t happy about not being the only one anymore and I have had so much pain that I’m failing her and not loving her enough and most days I don’t feel like I have even a minute to myself with work and two kiddos but I know as time passes, it will get better and better.

    Thank you for being so open and real, I really applaud you for having the courage to open up about how it really can be, and how much better it gets. I’m sure there are so many mama’s out there that needed to read this. It’s wonderful of you to use your platform to be real.

    If any moms are struggling out there, like Sally said, take care of yourself. Know that there is help out there if you need it, don’t be afraid or ashamed to get it.

    Happy Valentine’s Day ❤

  7. This was so encouraging. I have a 3 month old. Although she’s an easy baby for sure, I still have my moments of feeling like I’m drowning. It’s always nice to hear that others know what you’re going through and made it through.

  8. I started a few tears, and remembered all the advice we shared with you about being a new mom. And I started to chuckle as I read those thoughts and experiences and it hit me that you are totally now having that ‘lightbulb’ moment about how hard it is and how fast it goes and how you want to be your daughters whole world because you are hers and we all shared our advice and adventures and it’s not the same, but it totally is. And we all stand with you and support you because we know how hard it is and how fast it goes. We get it. Happy Valentine’s enjoy your family time! ❤️

  9. Sally, this is beautiful. When one women is brave and shares honestly it is a gift to other women. I just want to say Sally, that Noelle has an amazing role model in you. You put your heart and soul into everything and she is so lucky to have you. Xxx

  10. You are doing an amazing job Sally! Loved reading this post and to all the new moms out there, everything will work out, it always does! Sending love on this Valentines day

  11. Beautifully written! I can relate. My baby girl is about 2 weeks younger than Noelle. You words are honest and encouraging! Thank you for sharing!

  12. Thank you so much for the words of encouragement! My husband and I are expecting our first child in August and are slowly making olans for when the baby arrives (am I going to work from home? Etc.) Your words have really hit me in good way. It will be tough and there will be good days and bad days, but we are new to this, not experts. I really appreciate you sharing your journey with us! Thanks again!

  13. I love that you wrote this article. I struggled after I had my baby and honestly it’s been 3 years and I feel like I’m just starting to get my feet under me. It felt like every time I turned around my friends were talking about how great motherhood was and their babies were perfect…all the while I was excited to go to work because I was overwhelmed (I have no family close by and my husband works two jobs so it was just me) with a colicky baby. Motherhood is great but man oh man…it can be tough. It’s nice to see some honesty. Thank you!

  14. Beautifully said and honest. The working Mom part spoke to me. It is always a struggle for me to find balance. But no matter what, I am always Mom. Thanks Sally. P.S. I made those cookies for today as well 🙂

  15. So so True! I spent much of the first 6months crying every single day, it was a super hard adjustment to everything and for me in a foreign country I had so many overwhelming moments and between having a sick baby or everyone giving you their 5¢ worth it was a struggle. I have an amazing husband who supported me and told.me everyday that I was my son’s whole world and that I was doing a great job, and that helped get me through as well as talking with other mums and stopping feeling guilty for wanting or needing an hour to breathe or just shower in peace
    It truly is the best experience ever when you have a baby but the most daunting and overwhelming as well I never felt more alone than in those first months
    I’m learning everyday something new and like you say try to give myself a break and less criticism for everything
    You’re doing amazing Sally! And your daughter is beautiful, happy and healthy , what more can we ask for?
    Xxxx

  16. Thank you for your honesty! Being a new Mom is never easy but is the most rewarding gift in the world. It’s like magic. I promise you, it goes quicker than you think. My daughter is 3 and does everything on her own. How on earth did she get so big…and now I look back at those first moments like they were so small and worth all the troubles at the time. I remember sleepless nights. I had a year of no more than 2 hours sleep at a time when she was breastfeeding. Now I miss those bedtime snuggles. I find myself in her room every night brushing her hair back. They’re too precious not to enjoy every moment we can, even when motherhood tries to trick us..our hearts win ❤❤❤ Happy Valentine’s Day to you and your Valentine’s! Xo

  17. Sally thank you for posting such raw honesty about bonding, I felt the same way when I had my baby girl. One time, when I cut her fingernails I cut her thumb and it was the thumb she sucked! So she cried and cried, tried to suck her thumb to feel better, then cried when it went in her mouth cause it hurt and I’ve never felt worse in my life! I think we both cried for 2 days, my poor husband. Everyone has tough days thank you for reminding new parents that it happens to everyone!

  18. Very well stated!I am the mother of 4 and grandparent of soon to be 8.Each birth is different and hormones can do a number on you.Looking back I am amazed at how fast the years flew by.Children are such a blessing and joy but they do not come without trials and tears.Treasure each and every day because they go fast.Thankyou for your wonderful web site.

  19. So very true. I always say that being mom is the best and the hardest at the same time. I hate that people pretend everything is happiness, love and butterflies from the second you conceive and if you ever feel anything but, you must be this heartless monster. I hated being pregnant, but knew that it will be worth it. Then my daughter was born, I loved and wanted to care for her from the minute I had her in my arms, but liking her came later. Like you, I had no experience with babies before, so I felt keeping her alive was taking my all. It was overwhelming, exhausting and plenty scary. But it got better and now it’s a blast. It still is exhausting, there is no down time, ever. I go to work and when I’m home, I want to make up for the time lost, so I’m with her 100%. After she goes to bed is when I tackle the laundry, dishes, etc. So, yeah, it’s hard, but she’s the best that ever happened to me. She was two years old in December and it does get easier, especially since she’s more independent and she goes to day care. The best advice I was ever given is to follow what you feel in your heart and ignore all the unwanted advice from others. Every child is different and so is every parent, there is no one size fits all advice for anything. Do your best and know that it IS enough, no matter what others say and do.

  20. Sally,
    This is such a beautiful post! It would be wonderful if life came with an instruction book, but we all learn along the way, and when that first baby comes, it truly changes us all more than we could ever have imagined. Now you are shining your light to make the path a little bit easier for the next Mom! Enjoy the day with both your big Valentine and little Noelle too – and take LOTS of photos!
    Diane

  21. I love this! My little Lily was 5 weeks on monday and she just started smiling yesterday! It makes all the troubles from the first month feel worth it when you see the way her face lights up when she looks at you! 
    It’s definitely been hard but the one piece of advice I have taken in from everyone is that it goes by fast, so even though I don’t always enjoy the hard times, I know that one day I will look back and miss having my little baby so I try to appreciate every moment, even if every moment is not enjoyable. 
    That is a beautiful picture of you and Noelle, enjoy your first Valentine’s day with her! <3

1 2 3 5

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

With kitchen-tested quality recipes and step-by-step tutorials, my goal is to give you the confidence to bake and cook from scratch.

Recipes You’ll Love

Archives

Categories

Sally's Baking Challenge

Join the community on the 1st of every month as we tackle a new challenge recipe.

View More

Sally's Cookie Palooza

A tradition since 2013, every December we countdown to Christmas with 10 new cookie recipes in a row!

View More

Sally's Pie Week

The first week of every November is all about Thanksgiving Pies.

View More

My Cookbooks

About Sally

Welcome to my Kitchen!

I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally

×