Taking care of an infant is a tough job. No parenting book can prepare a new mom for the challenges OR the incredible, deep love that they feel for their newborn baby. Mothers-to-be spend months preparing for the arrival of their little one, and then find, as they hold their new baby in the hospital, that they feel completely unprepared. I thought it would be interesting to ask seasoned moms what their biggest challenges were during the first weeks and months of their babies’ lives and how they overcame those challenges.
To tell you the truth, I had NEVER even changed a diaper before I had my son. I was a career person on Wall Street in NYC. So, my biggest challenge was just learning about babies and being a mother. I had postpartum depression. I had a hard time with that, but my husband helped me through, and my mom and I went to a therapist.
I would not take medication because I was breastfeeding. But now, if it happened again, I would take the medication. I am now an LPC, and do couple’s counseling & support women & families in the adjustment to parenting. I see that the medication makes a big difference in women’s lives. There is a lot more known about medications and breastfeeding today.
Carmen was a joy from the second I held her. Bringing her home felt like “Finally we are a family.” I didn’t have the shock that a lot of people talk about. With Louis it was hard because I had 2 babies. I had to decide which one I would let cry and which one I would hold. It was super hard to leave the house. But you do what you gotta do. I just did it anyway.
I think learning the baby is the biggest challenge I had. I always felt odd holding my kids the first little bit. Like I was holding someone else’s baby and I didn’t quite know how the kids wanted to be held. With my first, the biggest challenge I had with her was nursing. It wasn’t until I met with the lactation consultants at the hospital almost 4 weeks after she was born that I finally figured it out.
And with my twins, (plus one!) sleep was the worst. They weren’t on the same schedule, so we were all sleep deprived with a 2 year old on top of it. I got through that by requesting and accepting help. I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle everything on my own, as much as I wanted to! Help was the best thing I could have given myself at that moment!
My biggest challenge was nursing. My body would never allow me to nurse beyond 4 months and it hurt me tremendously because I equated nursing to being a good mom. It made me feel like a failure and a bad mom when my milk would dry up. I got very depressed and then would end up pregnant within a few months after drying up. It was an emotional roller coaster.
My biggest challenge was that we moved to a new state when Miss A was 1 month old. Not having friends or family around to help was the toughest thing ever. I don’t know how I made it through the first few months. I cried a lot, and then I found an amazing moms group that became my haven. I have friends to this day whose children have grown up with mine and will have a place in my heart forever.
~Jenn aka MommyB
I was a first time mom living in a different state from all of my family so if I had a question I couldn’t just drive over to my moms house and say what do I do when such and such happens. I can’t really recall a specific challenge but I do know I called my mom a lot with questions.
Breastfeeding, I was young and terrified. My mother had adopted me so I had no maternal advice. I learned on my own and did it all by reading books and talking to nurses.
I thought the lack of sleep was pretty brutal, and unfortunately the only way out of that one is time.
My first would not let me put her down. I had to strap her into the Snuggli to get anything done. Folding laundry with a baby in a front pack is not fun.
My second was in the NICU for her first two weeks and in doctors’ offices several times a week for the six months after that. It’s still a blur.
Postpartum Depression! The #1 thing that helped me through it was the most supportive husband who watched me and took care of me when I cried, who held me when I didn’t know what to do, and who called my mother and his to help me take care of the baby when I couldn’t.
Thinking back, it was the crying everyday. It really caught me off-guard even though I’d had many friends warn me. At 6 weeks postpartum, it was MUCH better but I was really getting worried. By 8 weeks, I felt more like myself minus the 8 hours of sleep I was used to.
I had a c-section, so the first 3 weeks were very hard because I was pretty much stuck at home unless someone drove me somewhere. After about 2 weeks, I remember having my now ex drop me off at the mall so I could just wander for an hour. That hour saved me and allowed me to get back into the mood to love my family.
My first daughter was 5 weeks premature and tiny. I remember being so nervous at the hospital. When it came to changing her first diaper I made my husband do it! I had to get over that fast! It’s crazy the realization you have after you give birth that you and your husband are 100% responsible for this perfect little baby.
Getting my children to sleep! My oldest had the typical fussy time in the evening, and it just wore me out. From about 6 o’clock until 10 o’clock he had to be walked and bounced and nursed, then start all over again. The second baby was an angel, but she wanted to stay up until midnight every night, then sleep until 10 am. Which worked just fine as a newborn, except for the late nights.
I HATED being a mom for the first 4 months. All she did was cry. All I did was cry. We had no routine and no direction. My life was a disaster, my house was a worse disaster and I wanted to quit. I finally pulled myself up by the bootstraps and decided I wasn’t going to be able to run away so I set up a schedule and tried to follow it one day at a time. It was awful and hard but 10 years later I still use the same basic routine and life is now livable. My house is still a disaster most days though …
Reflux – both girls. Having them sleep at an angle and scooting them up in the middle of the night as they were crying in their sleep helped.
Going back to work was my biggest challenge when all I wanted to do was stay at home. My son was a really easy baby, most of the time, and being with him was much more enjoyable than returning to a job that suddenly didn’t fulfill me any longer. The hardest part, though, was deciding when was the right age to let him cry-it-out. He was younger than we anticipated (about 5 months) but for us, and for our son, it was the right time. But still, heartbreaking to listen to your child cry and not run to his rescue.
What were the hardest things that you faced when your baby was new? Do you have any tips that helped you get through the newborn stage?
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