I Wish Someone Had Warned Me

There’s a blog post you may have seen about the joys of new motherhood that went viral last week. The writer recalls that when she was pregnant, she was warned about the many hardships of motherhood, but she really should have been “warned” about how amazing it would be.

So amazing, in fact, that sleep didn’t matter–she was thrilled to be up multiple times at night nursing. She also had no need for a break–one hour away from her baby for a leisurely pedicure was too much to bear. The impact on her relationship with her husband was nothing less than positive as they fell evermore in love while gazing into each other’s eyes over the sweet head of their peaceful newborn.

Excuse me while I throw up a little in my mouth.

While I’m not saying she shouldn’t share her story–everyone’s stories are worth sharing–she could use a lesson in humility and empathy in order to do it without rubbing salt in the wounds of those of us who experienced a completely different reality.

It’s a good idea to take into account the new mothers for which an hour-long pedicure could never be enough of an escape.

The ones who had envisioned nothing less than the joy-filled images that are found in abundance on pregnancy websites or friends’  Facebook posts, but then were struck with an alternate brutal reality.

When I had my first baby, it seemed something had gone terribly wrong, like a cruel plot twist in my life story. I was the one dreaming of becoming a mom since I was a little girl, and then the planning and waiting for six years after we got married to make sure we were prepared. We thought we were ready.

If only I had known that this could happen, maybe I could have been partially saved from the misery of feeling so alone in my experience.

I wish someone would have warned me how awful those first several months of motherhood could truly be.

That I might look at my baby and feel nothing but regret.

That although I might get an intense love at first sight feeling when my baby was born, that feeling could fade and it could take me months to actually feel love for him again.

That I might sob endless tears for months on end.

How reading all the cards that arrived with well wishes for my new “bundle of joy” might bring me to tears because the emotions I was feeling were the furthest thing from joy.

That I might shout in my newborn’s face, “Why won’t you stop crying?!”

That I might choose to go to bed at 7:30pm knowing I would be up for the day at 7:30am with only four hours of broken sleep. For weeks.

That I might dread each day, not knowing how I would make it through.

That I might come to understand exactly what triggers someone to shake a baby.

That I might go on a long drive to nowhere just to have a break from the baby, tears streaming down my face because I knew I would have to return home and could never really escape.

That the nursery might end up feeling like a battle zone.

That selling the house where we brought our first baby home from the hospital might feel like a relief because I could leave the memory of those bad feelings behind.

Since no one warned me, I am warning you.

Sharing with others the reality of what could be is not being negative, it is being honest and kind. You need to hear it because it might happen to you too. And if none of it does and you get to experience the joy of new motherhood that I feel I was robbed of? Be happy. Be thrilled. And know that I am happy for you too, even if insanely jealous.

The feeling of drowning, of not knowing what went wrong, of how you can take it back and make it go away is not something I would wish on anyone else.

Hearing each other’s stories is important, but it’s also important to be aware of your tone. If you’re head over heels in love with your new baby and just having the best time of it, great. Tell the world!

But if you were formulating your next status update or blog post openly bragging about your perfect angel baby, adding phrases about how you don’t know what all those negative Nellies were talking about because this is the easiest gig ever, consider that it’s making those of us who had a vastly different experience feel like shit.

Do not reject our voices, writing us off by saying we are only spreading fear and negativity. That’s what will keep women in hiding, afraid to come out and say that they’re struggling to keep their heads above water. It’s dark and closing in around them and they can’t swim their way to the surface. They need to feel safe speaking up and they need to be acknowledged.

I admit there’s a difference between throwing negative comments in someone’s face and sharing your story, just as there is a difference between sharing your joy and bragging. Just know that the storytellers are sharing their truth and if you don’t experience anything you were warned about, you are lucky and you are rare.

The best thing you can do is package up that joy in the form of a helping hand and spread the love to a new mother who is not faring so well. And be thankful it didn’t happen to you.

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Comments 26

  • YES YES YES ON SPREAD THE LOVE
    I swore Id never forget and do just that.

  • I can so relate to every, single, word you have written. While I can appreciate that everyone’s experience is different, I agree that it can be just s*** and nobody, I mean NOBODY, warned me about how awful I might feel. They said “Oh there’s not much sleep when you have a baby!” so I was prepared, but I wasn’t prepared for the endless crying (colic for 3 months), the isolation, the not talking to any adult for 9 hours, the pain while breastfeeding, the mastitis, and the guilt, the awful guilt about wishing I had not had the baby, and yes the yelling at my baby. (You can bet I drowned myself in guilt the first time). Postnatal depression is a serious and common problem and so many women come dangerously close to it or fall right over the cliff into it. You were not alone – our kids are close in age and I bet we were going through exactly the same thing at the opposite ends of the world at the same time x

    • I find the thought of us going through this “together,” half a world apart very comforting, even now. New motherhood can be very isolating, but we’re never really alone.

  • not a Mama yet, so I appreciate your honesty. I think everyone has extremely different experiences when it comes to motherhood and kids, so less judgment and more love is always a good thing!

  • I felt a similar way. The first 3 months felt like a lifetime to me. I wrote an article on my breastfeeding troubles on momquery.com if you want to take a look. I like this site because all kinds of mothers tell their “real stories.” I feel it’s very important to tell the truth when they’re hardships in motherhood incase not everyone feels so happy from the get-go. I felt very alone the first yr of motherhood. It was terrible. Thanks for writing this!

  • I’m not pregnant…yet…but I am really appreciative of this post. There’s no doubt it took a lot of courage for you to write this; thank you for that. Sharing the reality of our struggles is so important, a huge part of life. While it does make me a little anxious about starting a family (I have a history of depression) it does help to know that wherever we are, we’re not alone. Thanks again.

    • It can be scary to think about even though it’s important to know. I was terrified when I had my second that it would be the same way (fortunately, I had a much better experience that time and could pull myself up and out of that drowning feeling when it came), but knowing what could happen gave me the power to fight back. Whatever happens when you get there, if you recognize what’s going on, you can get the resources to help you.

  • I’m ALL about honesty in posts and as someone who’s not a mother yet, I appreciate when my friends are honest about the truths be hid the first few months instead of trying to coax me into the glory of it all – it’s just being real!

  • I remember those months like it was yesterday and my son is about to turn 7. When I was pregnant no one said it was going to be that hard to be a Mom. Sure I knew it was going to be hard but not THAT hard. The only thing people like to warm me about was how hard labor was going to be. Turns out that was a walk in the park compared to everything after.

    • Agreed. I knew I wouldn’t get a lot of sleep, but it seemed like something people joke about and I figured I’d be so much in love with my baby that it wouldn’t matter. Ha! It mattered a lot. I could not understand how it’s something people laugh off when it was just awful.

  • I definitely relate to your experience. Our first year was nothing like what I expected. yes I knew it would be hard but had no idea it would be that hard. I try to tell it like it is with the good, the bad and the ugly from pregnancy on. I think some women sugar coat it to make themselves look better. Like they have it all together. When in fact those women that might really have it all together are like 5% of us! Great post!

  • Wow, thank you so much for being brave enough for sharing this! I actually read the original article and was really surprised by it – I never heard people say those things before and wasn’t sure how realistic it was. I don’t have any children yet and I’m not sure if I ever will, but I think that it’s different for everyone and I really appreciate hearing your story.

    • I had never heard anything quite to that extent, but I have heard people say things like they miss their babies when they’re sleeping and just want them to wake up so they can play with them. That’s something I can’t identify with at all!

      • Haha me either about waking them up or missing them when they’re sleeping. My son stopped napping shortly after he turned 3 and I’m still sad about it

  • You’re honesty is inspirational! Thank you for sharing!

  • I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU! Sending this to my pregnant sister RIGHT NOW!

  • Thanks for sharing these thoughts Laura. I didn’t see the viral post, but when I had my first child in 2011, I joined a breastfeeding support group and I always felt like the other moms were so much happier and took everything in stride (and they were also first time moms) and I kept thinking something was “wrong” with me.

    Now that I’ve had my second, I realize some of the reasons it was harder for me with baby #1 as baby #2 is hard, too, but in a different way, and every baby is a different experience. Thanks for sharing your experience with those of us who feel that becoming a mother was difficult. I totally agree!

  • My daughter is 9 months old. I get choked up thinking that I only have 3 months of her babyhood left. She is an easy, healthy, happy baby who keeps her food down, sleeps, and doesn’t scream bloody murder for hours on end.

    My son is 3. I cannot think of the first year of his life without crying — but for a completely different reason. It was complete HELL. I shared all the feelings you did. We went through infertility and spent thousands of dollars to have him and so many times I wondered why the heck we did that! Of course, I always loved him — and he is actually a great toddler now — but man, the first year sucked so bad.

    Thanks for this post! <3

    • It’s amazing how different it can be with different kids. I know some people have a challenging time with all their kids and I feel fortunate that I had it much easier with my second. I’m happy for you too that you are getting to experience how good it can be this time around!

  • I teared up reading this. You said everything I felt after my daughter was born better than I could ever express. My daughter just turned three, and I still struggle with the idea of having a second. Thank you for making me feel less alone!

    • It’s so hard to think about having another one. I remember sobbing when my son was an infant saying I didn’t know how anyone had another one. Then, once he was an awesome toddler, I decided I wanted to do it again just on the chance we might have a better experience the second time around. I was lucky and it was better with my daughter. We were on high alert watching for signs of depression and fortunately, she was a much easier baby. Hugs, mama, you’ll make the best decision for your family!

  • Thank you so much for the post. I am currently in the midst of ALL of those feelings. It is so nice to hear someone else has felt the same thing and that it won’t last forever. I love my 4 month old, but somedays it is so hard. I would definitely rather know how hard it can really get before hand and if it isn’t so bad even better!
    Thanks.

    • You are in the trenches right now and it is so hard. It will never be easy exactly, but at some point the days brightened up for me. It’s good to know that there are others out there who went/are going through the same thing. Hugs, mama, and I hope your days get brighter soon.

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