So, you just had a baby, and you were told you would be in pure bliss. And you are blissful… but you’re also… annoyed. Exhausted. Cranky. Did I say exhausted? Here’s some common issues almost all new moms experience and some tips to handle them.
Your partner doesn’t know where anything is! Or, he’s too loud, too clueless, etc.
How you want to react: “Hey idiot! You don’t remember where the ice cream scooper is? Why am I the only one who knows where everything is around here! I just gave birth to your child, but sure I’ll get up and show you where the damn ice cream scooper is…”
How you’re going to respond instead: “Hun, it’s in the middle drawer by the stove. I feel frustrated when I have to tell you where things are; do you think you could just look first and then ask if you really can’t find it? Thank you!”
You had no clue it was possible to be this tired
Yeah, yeah, yeah: everyone warned you to “get your rest now” while you were pregnant, but man NOTHING could prepare you for this level of exhaustion! You feel like you’re constantly nursing the baby, and when you can finally nap alongside your little one, a million thoughts race through your head, or you choose to shower and eat instead; the next thing you know it’s time to feed the baby again! Fear not, this state is temporary. Sleep will be your friend in the near future! In the meantime, ask your support group to help you out a bit so that you can get some rest in, and maybe space out those two cups of coffee throughout the day. I remember half an iced coffee at 4pm being my best friend during those first few weeks.
The squirt bottle and giant pads…
There’s no way to sugarcoat it: your vagina hurts. You’re bleeding a lot. You have hemorrhoids. If you had a C-section, you feel like you will never regain strength in your abdomen and it hurts just getting off the couch. You want to curse the gods who put the burden of childbirth on women while your husband goes to work out in the morning. When we stress about our pain, we are only making it worse, so in this case I advise you to practice some mindfulness. Acknowledge your pain—maybe even bitch and moan about it with a friend—but then move on. It is another temporary state, and there are a million other things to focus on. I’m not saying get over it by any means; I’m simply saying there’s not much you can do about it (other than using those glorious giant ice packs and the squirt bottle). Thank your body for performing a miracle, and go treat yourself to some chocolate.
Other people are giving you unsolicited advice
How you want to react: “I’m sorry did I ask for your traumatic birth story?” “Oh, your wife didn’t get an epidural so you think I don’t need one?” “Excuse me, but I don’t give a dog’s rip about your baby’s sleep schedule!”
How you’re going to respond instead: It’s more than OK to set healthy boundaries. Tell your sister-in-law that you’re glad her baby is doing X, but you are going to do Y, and it’s okay to agree to disagree. Or, simply say “Wow, how interesting” and change the conversation. Also, be proactive and maybe don’t bring up certain topics that could cause controversy among your other mom friends. People have opinions, and if they are insecure or anxious about choices they’ve made, they’re likely to project that anxiety onto you. So, stand firm in your decisions, and be clear about when you are looking for advice versus when you aren’t. You got this mama!
Jessica Vickers, MA, MFT is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (#89119) here at Cottonwood Psychology in Anaheim Hills. She specializes in postpartum adjustment, relationships, depression, adoption, purpose/direction, and identity.