Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

What We Wish We Would Have Known About New Motherhood


Jackson and me, Mother’s Day, 2012.

This weekend is Mother’s Day, and while for me it’s a happy day I enjoy, I keep in my thoughts all the women for whom this day can be challenging to get through. I’m also thinking about the brand new moms out there — the ones who will be celebrating Mother’s Day this year for the first time on the other side — as a mom. The first year of motherhood is pretty intense, to say the least. After the jump, twelve moms share what they wish they would have known as brand new moms that might have made the transition a little smoother.

“I wish someone had told me that you won’t feel quite like yourself for the better part of a year…in many ways. For example, it wasn’t until my son was nearly a year old that I felt connected to my husband sexually again. It was around the same time that I finally felt that I had autonomy back in regards to my body. It was around that time that I finally began to recognize a smidgen of the ‘old me.'” – NerdieNikki

“As long as you are doing the best to your ability, you aren’t failing your kid. Newborns are pretty easy: eat; sleep; poop; attention. Hormones are nuts. Your mental health is a HUGE priority as a new mom, and accepting that you are good enough goes a long way.” — Shelly F.

“The first twelve weeks after the baby is born is basically a fourth trimester of pregnancy where your body still doesn’t feel like your own, your sleep is really messed up, and your hormones are nuts, and now the baby is on the outside which is slightly more comfortable, but a whole lot noisier and more exhausting. Forgive yourself for everything in those first twelve weeks, and do whatever you need to stay on the saner side of well enough. Also, childhood is full of stages, and in the first year of life, those stages can come every week or two and leave just quickly as they arrive, so don’t get too hung up on negatives OR positives, because they’ll likely pass in a few days,” — Dear Wendy

“If you follow your mom’s advice to use bag balm to soothe sore nipples during breastfeeding, wipe it off before you put your nursing pads back on – ouch!” — Kari G.

“New motherhood can be a lonely experience. Along with packing a hospital bag, you should plan social activities for yourself after the baby is born because you will miss being around your good friends. Don’t let logistics stop you from a girl’s night out (or in).” — Siddiqui S.

“I wish someone had told me how much friendships can change. I found I didn’t have the time to go hang out somewhere for hours on end. I also didn’t want to! I invited people around to my place, but if I did it again, I’d try to schedule structured catch-ups like lunch or dinner rather than vague or late night plans. I also have no time for long phone calls. I was always someone who picked up the phone no matter what, but soon after I had a baby, I stopped answering calls altogether and would text when I was free.” — Lisa B.

“As the mom of a premie, I wish someone would have told me not to sweat the milestones. Comparing your peanut to other little peanuts is a thankless task. Also, very important: find a bakery or coffee shop that you can wear your baby to when the fussiness gets overwhelming. Carbs help.” — Jamie B.

“Don’t wear white pants after giving birth.” — Mandy D.

“Everybody tells you: ‘the hardest part is the not sleeping,’ but nobody tells you about those moments when you feel like you are not going to make it, or you feel lost when your baby cries because you don’t know what to do, or you feel like a failure when you have to give your baby formula. But also, no one can really explain to you the love you will have for your child — the warmth you feel when you hear your baby laugh for the first time, and the certainty that you would do anything for him or her.” — Marcela F.

“Don’t worry about cleaning your house. Don’t worry about putting on makeup. Don’t worry about what all your visitors think about you. Just lie in bed and think about your baby and yourself. That’s it. You two are the most important; everything else is noise.” — Obrett

“Be prepared for some very mixed emotions after having a baby. The impact on my relationship with my husband was transformative and our previous division of labor went out the window, which was difficult for both of us. Also, I wish I had never listened to anyone who told me to ‘enjoy every moment.’ Motherhood is an all-consuming rollercoaster that is impossible to enjoy every moment and that sets up unrealistic expectations and perceived failure.” — Rebecca L.

“I wish I would have known how WONDERFUL motherhood would be. I would’ve gotten knocked up years ago and had a buttload of kids!” — Addie Pray

You might also like:

New Motherhood The Second Time Around
“How Do You Know When You’re Ready To Have Kids?”
“How Do You Find Balance After You Have a Baby?”
“When Breastfeeding Doesn’t Work”

20 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Amy May 8, 2018, 12:20 pm

    Thank you for this timely article! My first baby will be here within the week and I am so excited but also pretty nervous. I’m trying to rest up as much as I can this last week. I’m so glad I took a couple weeks off before the big day.

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    • avatar

      keyblade May 8, 2018, 12:47 pm

      Congratulations and good luck. Good idea to enjoy some getting some rest before baby arrives.

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    • MaterialsGirl

      MaterialsGirl May 8, 2018, 12:49 pm

      Congrats! Very exciting

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  • MaterialsGirl

    MaterialsGirl May 8, 2018, 12:50 pm

    Also: haha AP. You guys sleeping through the night now?

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  • avatar

    SpaceySteph May 8, 2018, 1:48 pm

    I think Wendy’s advice is spot on. I hated the newborn phase. I imagined my maternity leave as this time of bonding and enjoyment and storing up all the baby snuggles before I had to go back to work full time. Instead it was just an endless slog of exhaustion and boredom. Newborns are so flipping boring. My one year old is so fun and I wish I had a few weeks to take off work and spend with her now, rather than having spent that time when she was basically just an angry potato.

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    • avatar

      csp May 8, 2018, 2:12 pm

      now, all I can think about my son is that he was an angry potato

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    • avatar

      keyblade May 8, 2018, 3:23 pm

      My oldest had a milk protein allergy that we didn’t know about for the first few months and he was constantly fussy and we couldn’t figure out why. I felt the same way about the newborn stage after he became more interactive. Number two was easier, probably because of number one.

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  • avatar

    Marie May 8, 2018, 3:05 pm

    I always recommend that new moms try to make sure they get photos taken of themselves with their child. It’s really easy to get caught up in being the photographer – we have lots of photos of my baby on his own and my baby plus dad – and also feeling like you don’t look good enough to be in a photo (due to lack of sleep/makeup/whatever). But it’s really special to have those photos capturing a moment in time with the little one. They grow and change SO quickly!!

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  • avatar

    Amber May 9, 2018, 5:43 am

    I wish someone had told me not to be alarmed if you don’t really feel much for your baby in the first few days/weeks. The bonding will come through daily care and interaction with your back baby, even if in the moment it feels like you are just going through the motions. You’re not a bad mom if you don’t feel that rush of emotions immediately!

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  • Lianne

    Lianne May 9, 2018, 10:05 am

    I meant to write something to you, but I’ve got a newborn!

    I wasn’t expecting the postpartum anxiety with my first child. Being in the hospital immediately following his birth was this euphoric experience. We were so in love with this little baby and had help! Then we got home and were like, wtf. Each night around 5 PM, I would be filled with this feeling of dread. I think it stemmed from a feeling of “bad things happen at night” and not being able to watch him AND sleep at the same time. The thing that helped was my husband going back to work! At that point, I was able to establish a routine for the two of us and it helped me feel a bit of control. When I am anxious or stressed, organizing something helps settle me and this was no different.

    With number two it’s SO MUCH EASIER. The majority of the stress I felt at the beginning was actually around my two year old and how he would adjust to having a baby sister.

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    • avatar

      ktfran May 9, 2018, 10:10 am

      CONGRATULATIONS!

      As soon as I saw your name pop on on the side, I was hoping this was a good news post. Glad you and baby are doing well!

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      • Lianne

        Lianne May 9, 2018, 11:08 am

        Thanks! She’s so so sweet and 4 weeks old today! Big brother has been so good with her. I really can’t believe it!

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      • avatar

        ktfran May 9, 2018, 11:26 am

        So happy for you guys! And that your son is enjoying being a big brother.

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    • avatar

      keyblade May 9, 2018, 11:20 am

      Congratulations, Lianne!

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    • avatar

      anonymousse May 10, 2018, 6:30 am

      Congratulations, Lianne!
      I felt the same way about #2. Mine are a little bit closer in age, and my littlest is now 2 1/2. They are best buddies and it’s so sweet.
      Enjoy that new baby smell!

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    • avatar

      K May 10, 2018, 11:51 am

      Congrats, Lianne!

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    • Lianne

      Lianne May 12, 2018, 8:34 pm

      Thanks everyone!

      Reply Link
  • avatar

    wobster109 May 10, 2018, 2:00 am

    I’m having my first mother’s day as a mother this year. Critter was born on December 25th, a literal Christmas baby! I got really worried when I didn’t bond with the baby for the first couple of weeks. I was in so much pain from the episiotomy that going to the bathroom made me cry. It turns out being in lots of pain makes it super hard to bond or feel love or feel anything besides pain. Around 3 weeks was when I finally loved the baby, and now I think he’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen (beating out 3 very cute cats). Here’s a photo of the cute thing: https://78.media.tumblr.com/b089adee08354152767d2f78d91dd5bd/tumblr_p82p4cawWr1srls4ho4_540.jpg

    My advice is sitz baths are heaven on Earth.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy May 10, 2018, 6:26 am

      Aww, he’s adorable! Congrats, and Happy Mother’s Day!

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    • avatar

      K May 10, 2018, 11:48 am

      Super cute! Congrats!

      Reply Link

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