Here’s the truth: when a baby finally makes they grand entrance after the long nine-month wait, they will rock their parent’s world regardless of whether they are first time or experienced parents.
Life becomes all about this little human and making sure they are happy and healthy. Starting on day one of a baby’s existence, they begin the journey of maturing and growing into an adult human, and as parents, we are along for the ride.
There are many different phases within their first year of life that will be the building blocks to getting them to the next stage of childhood. While these phases are rooted in developmental steps affecting the baby’s growth, each involves the parents’ nurturing and support. The first phase you will experience as a parent, which can sometimes be the most challenging, is the newborn phase.
Before the arrival of my daughter, I spoke with many of my friends who were already moms and did research on what to expect in the first year of my baby’s life. As someone who doesn’t love surprises, I wanted to have a basic understanding of what was to come. I familiarized myself with phases like the four-month sleep regression and knew developmental steps like teething, rolling over, and nap eliminations could be challenging. However, when doing my research and chatting with other moms, no one mentioned anything about the first couple of months other than the overwhelming love and exhaustion. Both ended up being true in my case, but there was also much more.
Babies are considered newborns from birth until about two months of age. At this age, they are not very active or alert, so they might require less mental and physical energy than, say, a five-month-old. But make no mistake, this newborn phase is no less challenging and, quite honestly, I was not in love with this phase as many others are. As a mom who would do anything for her baby, it was hard for me to admit this at first. However, after confiding in close friends, they assured me that what I was feeling was normal, especially as a first-time mom.
When I first came home from the hospital, I was exhausted, still in pain from giving birth, and nervous about taking care of this tiny human. Turns out, no matter how much research and reading I did in advance to prepare, I was 100% not ready for motherhood. Being so little and new, most babies are eating around the clock as their bodies grow. This, in turn, results in a severe lack of sleep, which at times can feel torturous. (There’s a reason why sleep deprivation is a method of torture!)
A newborn is also too little to communicate in any other way than crying, so I would often become sad because I felt I couldn’t address my daughter’s needs. At one point, the days started blending together, and I felt totally isolated from the world. Quite possibly the most difficult part of this phase didn’t even involve my baby directly, but it was the postpartum hormonal fluctuation happening inside my body that sent me on an emotional rollercoaster.
Eat, change, sleep, repeat. Survive. The newborn phase is all about survival. It might sound dramatic, but it’s literally what all my mom friends told me when I was asking questions or venting: just get through this phase.
They were right.
Once we hit three months, I felt myself relax and soften. I had made it. Even as we faced new developmental challenges, I felt my confidence as a mother grow. Comparatively, these new challenges felt easier than those I experienced in the first two months. Sleep became more consistent, time between feedings lengthened, and I started to feel like myself again.
If you are reading this now and are in the trenches of weeks three or four, I can confidently say from the other side – it does, in fact, get better and easier. I am so in love with this little human, and at nearly five months old, she’s already my best friend. We have so much fun together each day, and she is learning and growing before my eyes. Even as we move through sleep training and teething, I have the confidence and skill to manage and overcome these phases together with my baby.
I imagine that with any subsequent children (hopefully!), the newborn phase won’t be as difficult because it won’t be my first experience. Certainly, some of my feelings can be credited to being a first-time mom. However, I do believe there are factors of this newborn phase that will always be difficult regardless of if it’s your first baby or your fourth. After all, every baby is different.
The first two months are all about transitioning into motherhood and getting to know your baby while surviving the sleepless nights and around-the-clock feedings. It’s about sacrificing part of yourself to your child. I feel beyond blessed and thankful to have given birth to a beautiful, healthy, thriving baby girl. I just want moms to know it’s OK to have these feelings – of discouragement, of exhaustion, of flat out waiting for this phase to be over.
This is normal. And you’re still a great mom.
I encourage you to voice what you might be feeling or thinking to your partner, mom, friends, or family so that they can help and support you through the transition. There is no truer statement to describe raising a child than “it takes a village,” so never be afraid to ask for help.
It gets better. I promise.