Newborn Life: When Parenthood Isn’t What You Expected

When Kaylie Jones* became a mom she was surprised by a lot of things. There was the sheer exhaustion, the never-ending laundry, and the baby that never seemed to settle into any of the carriers or bouncers she had so carefully registered for. “When my daughter was a newborn, I was so totally caught off guard by how hard and unfamiliar everything felt,” says Jones.

For most new moms, early parenthood comes with lots of feelings and a lot of learning. When all that learning and all those feelings are hard though, and the rosy picture of parenthood you imagined before your baby arrived seems to shatter before your eyes, it can be really hard to figure out how you’re going to move forward as a mom and what you need to do to make things begin to feel a little more normal.

If you’re a new mom who’s struggling to figure out how to reconcile your pre-baby ideas about what parenthood would be like and what parenthood is actually like, check out the tips below to help you start to get settled.

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{ MORE: Heart Murmurs Are Actually More Common in Babies Than You Would Think }

Feel your feelings

In our culture it’s not uncommon for moms to feel like they can’t talk about the hard parts of parenthood without seeming ungrateful for their little ones. Sometimes, that worry about being perceived as ungrateful or unhappy can make it hard for moms to accept and really feel their feelings. Next time you feel a wave of frustration or sadness or nostalgia for how things were pre-baby, don’t try to push the thought or feelings away. Instead, give yourself a minute to really feel what you’re feeling.

Let go of guilt

If you’re feeling guilty about not loving every minute of early parenting, it’s vital that you let go of the guilt. Instead of feeling bad for not loving every part of your day as much as you thought, do your best to recognize that it’s very normal to feel a range of feelings as you transition to parenthood. And know that unpleasant feelings don’t mean that you don’t absolutely love your baby to pieces.

Focus on the good

After taking a few minutes to feel your feelings, make a conscious choice to think about or focus on the things you are loving about parenthood. Whether it’s the sweet smile your babe makes as they finish up nursing, the quiet of the end of the day, or the oh-so-wonderful fresh from the bath smell of your baby’s head at night, there ARE things you like about parenthood and focusing on them will help you begin to feel more positively about the other parts that might not feel so fun.

Recognize the impermanence

Just like the ladies at the grocery store keep telling you, “babies don’t keep.” While it’s true that your baby will seem to grow before your eyes, what other people might not tell you is that you’ll grow before you know it too. Every day that you’re a parent, you become more of a mom and every day that you’re a mom you’ll become a little more comfortable and a little more confident. Early parenthood is hard but, as time passes and your life begins to feel normal again, you just might find yourself having more of those picture-perfect moments you always imaged!

{ MORE: 4 Tips for Cutting Your Newborn's Fingernails }

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Newborn Life: When Parenthood Isn’t What You Expected

Julia Pelly has a master's degree in public health and works full time in the field of positive youth development. Julia loves hiking after work, swimming during the summer and taking long, cuddly afternoon naps with her two sons on the weekends. Julia lives in North Carolina, with her husband and two young boys. You can find more of her work at JuliaPelly.com ... More

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