For so many parents, the news that you are expecting a baby is what you’ve been waiting for your entire life after trials and tribulations. When you go through a pregnancy, especially after years or potentially, decades of worry and heartache, you could be over the moon that you are with a child. And for all of the heartache and stress, it doesn’t prepare you for what motherhood is. Being a new parent is exhilarating, infuriating, and strange in equal measure. Surviving the first year of being a parent requires a wide combination of strengths. Let’s show you how to get through it.
You Will Doubt and Second Guess Yourself
Doubt is, unfortunately, one of those things that creep into our minds so much. It’s natural when you look at it from an outsider’s perspective because you’ve never done this before. While there are plenty of books out there that can help you to prepare for the practical aspects of parenthood, there are things that you will see for the first time, up close and personal, that you won’t recognize in any of the baby books.
You might not know whether you should be taking them out in the sun for too long or if they’ve got a strange rash because they’ve had a diaper on for too long. A baby heat rash guide can give you some insight, but you will learn to trust your instincts. The doubt and second-guessing are partly to do with the lack of sleep. But you have to remember that you are this child’s parents, and you will get the feeling if something is not quite right.
Sleeping Through the Night Is a Miracle
This could be one of the most depressing facts, especially when you speak to every other parent whose child slept through the night right away. It may sound pretty depressing to get sleep when you can or when the baby is sleeping, but if you focus on how many hours you are getting rather than the quality of sleep, this will slowly start to eat away at you. You will learn two things about yourself when you don’t sleep very well.
Firstly, you will realize how much you can function on so little sleep, but also, after a while, it becomes a semi-routine that you get used to it. If you know that your child is going to wake in the night, you mentally prepare yourself.
This is the difference when you compare it to what you were like before you had children. If you didn’t sleep through the night before you were pregnant and you were grouchy, it affected you much more. However, a lack of sleep when you have a responsibility and purpose will help you to function far better than you ever did.
You Cannot Love Them Too Much
There are many people who have the school of thought that you need to leave a baby to “cry it out.” But the fact is, and this has been agreed on by psychologists and pediatricians, a baby cannot be spoiled too much. If a baby wants a cuddle, hold them as much as they need to be held. Now, studies show that babies are less likely to suffer from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) if they sleep closer to their parents.
When a baby is held, they will cry less, which does make your life easier. Think about it from their perspective. They’ve come out of the womb into a strange and scary world. They need as much comfort as possible. During the first year of your baby’s life, giving them as much love as possible is going to make them secure and make your life easier, but it will also make for a far more loving family unit.
It Is Okay to Feel “Not Okay”
The first year of parenthood is one of many ups and downs. For so many mothers, there are mainly downs. So many mothers are now talking about the thoughts they had running through their minds, which weren’t just strange but were downright worrying. If you ever feel that you cannot cope or you believe that you’ve got to be some sort of super mother, you have to remember that it is okay to feel like you aren’t coping.
The most important thing for you to do is to reach out. Postpartum depression is more common than you think. But thankfully, it is being talked about more too. You may feel that there are times where you don’t have a connection with your baby. And you see other mothers that have this ideal relationship with their baby and it’s all sweetness and light.
The fact of the matter is that this isn’t what happens to every parent. The journey of parenthood is not perfect, and when you start to feel like you cannot cope or there are strange insane thoughts coming into your head, it can be scary. But it is a part of being human.
Get Away From Being a Parent
Those first 6 months feel like a boot camp in poop, lack of sleep, and having someone rely on you 24/7. You may even forget about what you were like before the baby came along. Having so little sleep can cause incredibly strange things.
But you have to remember that if you are on the brink of not being able to take it anymore, you’ve got to step away. You might not think it is so easy, but you’ve got to find the right balance. Even if you can get away for 10-minutes, this freedom of not having a baby relying on you is so important for your mental health.
And if you share the duties with your partner, you both need to get away from being a parent. Even if you set a date night for just a few hours, this gives you an opportunity to see life outside of the four walls of your home. And you will worry when you are away from your baby. But this is normal. If friends and family offer to babysit, you should take them up on the offer, not just for the benefit of the baby, but for the benefit of your sanity as well!
Remember the Small Moments
You might very well look back on your first year as a parent and it is all incredibly hazy. The great thing about taking pictures is that you can do it so quickly and they can capture a microcosm in time that you can look back on and just remember how your baby was.
They change so much during the first couple of years and when their hair changes color, or they start to string words together rather than babble, it can be an amazing realization just how much they’ve changed.
Emotionally, it can be overwhelming that your baby has become a completely different person. And it’s the small moments that you will remember when your child graduates from school or they do something to make you so proud, you will remember when they were so little, they needed you to help them through everything in life. When they are old enough to be their own person, it makes you truly appreciate the little things, even during the first year.
12 months is a long time and it can feel like a long time. When the baby doesn’t sleep or you are encountering a wide range of anxieties, it can feel like survival. But you have to remember that you won’t ever get this back. It’s partly survival, but in going through this, you will learn so much.