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. Beautiful words from a beautiful mom! This made me tear up at work and my baby will be 15 in a few months! I think it is so important for all moms to realize that YOU don’t go away just because you are now a mom. Do things you love! Like you said, bring baby along for the ride! There is always a new chapter and new learning as a parent ( as I am learning with a teenager), enjoy each season and all the ups and downs. Bless you!

  2. Inspired is the right word. Would that I had had those words to live by 42 years ago. As the mom of six and grandma to 23, those precious years fly by. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself in this post. I will share with the young moms I know. Carry on Sally! We are all with you.
    A grandma who remembers.

  3. This is 100% accurate and I wish I would have read this before my baby was born. All soon to be and new parents need to read this!!! No matter how much you think you are prepared and think you know before you have one, you are really never prepared! It’s the hardest most frustrating thing you will ever do at times but it’s also the most rewarding and amazing!! Your exhausted and sometimes not thinking clearly so never ever give up, it gets so much better!!! I had a lot of the same struggles and thought something was wrong with me and didn’t know if anyone else went through this so I’m really happy you posted this!! I also felt so guilty and scared going back to work. How is anyone going to care for my baby the way I do? Everything worked out fine and he is doing great! My baby just turned 1yr a few weeks ago! Most amazing and difficult year of my life, wouldn’t change it for the world

  4. Yes, yes, and yes!!! I totally agree with everything here. Being a parent is hard, no matter how old your “baby” is (mine’s 11YO now). But the rewards continually grow with the new experiences and fond old memories. I joined a play group when my son was a toddler, but I think all of us mommies enjoyed the group more than the little ones did! It was a safe place to vent frustrations, ask advice, and share in actual adult conversation. Community is SO important when you have a little one. There’s a reason why our early ancestors lived in groups to support one another. Helping hands are so necessary in dealing with those early, confusing, exhausting days.
    P.S. Noelle is TOO adorable! Such a sweet face! 🙂

  5. Thank you Sally for your open and honest writing about the struggles of parenting. It’s all real, not a fairy tale.  Be patient with yourself, no Mommy is perfect…. I am speaking from experience since my girls are now 20, 27 and 31.  I love them so much, but at times I have felt like a complete and utter failure.  My husband and I are in awe that these beautiful young women are as wonderful as they are in spite of our faulty parenting! 

    Noelle is thriving and she is blessed to have two parents that love her deeply.  Love conquers are failings.  Keep on doing what you are doing Sally because the little human you are raising will one day be a strong, confident woman.

    Much love to my favorite baker!  Cyndi

  6. So precious, both of you! Have you made her laugh out loud yet? I did with my niece and I’m still trying to figure out different angles to make her smile. 😀

  7. Well written Sally! *props* it got me all teary eyed..

    My daughter is 13 months and I can completely relate. Last year this time, I was lost and confused. Today it seems easy, very usual, normal and routine. 

    Noelle is adorable. Enjoy every moment with her 🙂 

  8. Absolutely beautiful and very true, Sally. I have three kids and each time it was a new adjustment. Every child comes with their own personality. Even what I learned with one did not apply to another. The emotions are real. I struggled to bond with my third and this is the first time I’ve admitted it. I started doing yoga to catch a break because he hated napping. It was a long first year. It does even it. It does get better. My oldest turned ten last month. I am so grateful for each and every moment, even the bad ones. The bad moments made me grow into a better person. It is too short but there is nothing greater. Now my kid is climbing over me. Mom break is over.

  9. I love this! Thank you for your honesty. This is beautifully written and true true true!!!

    Love the picture of you two! So sweet!

  10. How awesome and beautiful are your words! Wonderfully done. One can certainly hear that the words come from your heart. 
    It is a beautiful share. It’s been 44 years since my first child was born and these words were true then and especially true now in this increasingly complicated world!
    You have given a special gift to so many today and have strengthened your  journey ahead

  11. These words ring so true. I also experienced delayed bonding, and I remember googling “when does this get easier” at 3am on multiple occasions. Those first few months were, without a doubt, one of the hardest of my life and I felt so lost. However, as you stated, time goes by and things get a little easier. My son is now almost three and, while the 2s have their own lovely challenges (hello tantrums and opinions), I adore my time with him and he is my whole heart. I am 4 weeks away from my due date with baby number 2 and while I know it’s going to get crazy again, I take comfort in the wisdom this time around that it will go quickly and it will be okay. Thank you for your honest post – I think it will help so many parents out there who might be struggling. Oh! Also – Noelle is beautiful!!!

  12. You know, some things, you just have to experience to “get it”. No matter how many books you read or classes you take or other people’s children you take care of, you are never truly prepared for the all encompassing experience of motherhood until you do it yourself. And your journey will look just a bit different than any other mom’s journey. So very wonderful and and yet, so terrifying all at the same time! Exhaustion like you’ve never known, yet energy to be the super mom at the same time (and when you look back on it, you think “how did I ever do that?”) But God gives us these little miracles to take care of and He gives us the ability to do it, just when we need it. Great words Sally. And in a few years, you will be even wiser for the experiences you will have gone through with your daughter and perhaps other babies as well. You are doing great–and your best words are — “don’t feel guilty”, something all us Moms do at one time or another when we haven’t been the “perfect” mom!

  13. Congratulations Sally on your baby daughter , your happy family is growing as now you have motherhood responsibilities but you’re always here for us too . Happy Valentine’s Day hun!

  14. Your post brought tears to my eyes, and special memories to my heart, as it was just about 28 years ago I found out that I was expecting our wonderful son.  What you have written here is so beautiful, and I will make sure my son gets a copy when he becomes a dad.  I promise to give you ALL the credit!  🙂

  15. I love this post. Your words are wonderful. And I hope that they provide comfort to any other moms or dads – in any stage of parenting, whether it’s the newborn stage, elementary school, high school, or beyond. My baby just turned 2. Her big brother is almost 12. It was hard the first time and it was hard this time. I have cried at all ages for all sorts of reasons, some of which you mention here. Kids don’t come with instruction manuals.

    That picture of you and your sweet girl is wonderful. Cherish the time, and Happy Valentine’s Day (with extra sprinkles)!

  16. Very well put. My babies are 25 and almost 23 now and I remember those days. It flies by so fast, especially once they start school. Enjoy every moment and yes, there will be many different stages and many times you wish they came with a manual. She is beautiful. Enjoy!

  17. Dear Sally,i still have tears in my eyes writing this. You brought me waaayyyyy back, 43 years ago. Felt EXACTLY like you. You would have thought that you forget with time but as you can see,you don’t! All those incredible details… Thank you so much for sharing your deepest feelings. You have a beautiful daughter, and those cheeks! Also, love love love all your recipes.

  18. Thank you for using your blog to spread this loving, necessary message. As the mother of a 30, 28 and 26 year old, I can still remember the intensity of those first months and the self doubt, fueled by sleeplessness. It’s so easy to judge yourself and others and look at the flaws, but if we truly want what’s best for all the children, we will react with love and try to understand and help each other. Parenting should not be a competition, but instead a cooperative effort.

  19. Thank you so much for being so honest about your journey into motherhood! Delayed bonding is real, and certainly doesn’t make you a monster! I remember people asking me if I was just smitten with my son right away when he was born and my honest answer was no! I loved him in this very instinctual I must protect you, feed you and make you thrive way, but not the way I love him today (20 months later). Us moms need to be honest with each other about the realities and complexities of motherhood – and I’m so happy you’re doing that here! Best wishes on your journey – the days are long and the years are short!!

  20. I’m not a mom and this post made me so teary! Thanks for sharing your parenthood journey with us! Noelle is gorgeous and you two make such a beautiful pair 🙂 Your love for your princess makes you an incredible mom. She’s so blessed to have you.

  21. What a beautiful reminder to new parents. As a former NICU mom, and a frequent volunteer in the NICU where my girls stayed, this is an especially important reminder for parents of preemies and NICU babies. It can feel so incredibly daunting to shuffle back and forth to the NICU to see your newborn(s), and certainly isn’t the intro to parenthood you probably anticipated. It’s important to remember to take care of yourself as well! Happy Valentine’s Day to you, Sally, and to Kevin and precious Noelle!

  22. Preach it! So very true. I remember when my 3 yr old was born. I felt oddly empty that first week, like “so I am supposed to be over the moon obsessed with you right?” feeling like the real chemical emotional connection wasn’t there yet. We had a normal birth and everything. But yes so true, after just a few weeks, that all went away and just a flood of love 😀 You described it so well, thank you! I will have to send this on to all the new moms I know.

  23. Thank you, Sally! I just had my third and needed to read that. I was feeling super guilty about how the two older ones were handling things and how everyone’s having a difficult time adjusting. Thank you for the reminder that things change, we grow, we figure it out, and to give myself a little grace!

  24. First of all, I too am making your cream cheese sugar cookies today! I haven’t had time to bake recently, but decided I must make these (for the first time!) on Valentine’s Day. The butter and cream cheese are softening now.

    The photo of you and Noelle is beautiful! I know how hard it is. One tip for getting out of the house that helped me when I had to leave the house with baby was to consciously tell myself to slow down. There was so much to think of and to carry and to haul into the car, that I was often frantic in my attempt to get everything out of/into the house or out of/into the car. I had to do some of it in almost slow motion, in steps. That calmed me considerably!

  25. Your words are so eloquent and so completely true! I had all those feelings after having a baby, three times over! Now they’re all teenagers and I’m still adjusting! I think as parents, we will always be adjusting. We all need to support each other, to tell each other it is going to be okay. When you love your child so profoundly you want to burst, you are a good parent, even if you’re scared, feel clueless, work, stay home, or make a choice that goes against what you’re “supposed” to do. Babies don’t come with rule books and like you said Sally; we’re all just making this up as we go along. Have a wonderful day with your beautiful family and remember that you have a whole community behind you! 

1 2 3 4 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

×