Being a mom of one is no easy task. But no one can prepare you for the reality of being a mom of two (especially two under 2). I started this post in hopes of writing about my positive experiences so far, but quite honestly that would be a disservice to you other moms out there. Because the truth is that right now it sucks most of the time. The first few weeks Maya slept a lot (as newborns do) and I thought I had this parent thing in the bag. But then in the last 2 weeks or so she started to be awake more. And fussy more. And wanting to be held more (aka all the time). Paired with a 23 month old who wants attention but also needs me physically (lifting her into her high chair and crib, helping her on the stairs, changing her diapers, cutting up her food, etc.) I find myself often feeling overwhelmed when they both need me simultaneously. As a result, I feel nervous and anxious a lot of the time…Will Maya need to nurse when I need to be getting Nesrine in for her nap? After all, a mere 15 minutes is the difference between a long, restful nap and a short, restless one. And so forth..
I thrive on routine and predictablilty, and newborns aren’t known for either of those things. The only constant with them is change..what works one day might not the next. The chaos of life with a newborn is a struggle for me. Not only that, but going out of the house is difficult because Maya screams in the car unless someone is in the back to keep her calm while I drive. I’ve never felt so trapped at home. I feel totally dependent on my husband, nanny, or mom to be around and I can’t stand it. Luckily, things are starting to turn around. Maya completed her first Leap and isn’t as fussy. She’s even starting to interact and smile. She also started Zantac for reflux, and is much calmer when laying down. I ordered a new car seat and so far our last 3 outings with it were scream-free (there’s hope!). Nesrine is also completely used to having a baby around. I’m pretty sure she’s forgotten that there was ever life before her.
Thanks to a great group of women, I have compiled some advice (some of theirs and some of my own) that has helped me feel less hopeless in these toughest days with a newborn.
Can you answer the question: am I able to experience any moments of happiness or joy? Check-in with yourself, don’t ignore signs of PPD or PPA. Seek help when you need it, even if it’s just talking to a friend. Things can get dark quickly when you are sleep deprived and hormonal. Surround yourself with a good support system, hire help if you can. Again, PPD is serious, so always always talk to your doctor.
Lower your expectations. This is especially difficult to do if you’re like me. But choosing just a few things that you won’t compromise on and letting the rest go can help you feel more accomplished even on difficult days. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to spend the day at home tidying and doing laundry only for the house to look somehow (miraculously) worse by bedtime. As long as the dishes are cleaned and put away, I actively ignore the other clutter (FYI-my husband will attest, I’m not always successful!). As long as I take a shower in the morning, I can spend the rest of the day in pajamas. Just remind yourself that it is temporary!
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I really have a hard time with this one, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. No one wants to impose on friends or family who come to visit. If you have one simple and straightforward task (fold the towels, or load the dishwasher), that will direct a visitor who most likely would love to give you a hand.
Prioritize sleep. Such. A. Struggle. Toddler is finally content or asleep, baby finally stopped fussing. Then I notice the 5 million things to do. The mail is piling up, there are 5 loads of laundry waiting to be folded, the dishes from lunch still aren’t washed, and on and on. Again, remind yourself this is temporary and use the small window of quiet time you have to close your eyes. Taking at least one nap a day (even if it’s only 20-30 min) has improved my mood significantly this last week.
Get some fresh air daily. Even if all you can manage is to just stand outside for 5 minutes, or take a quick stroll around the neighborhood, I promise you will feel refreshed and a teensie bit more patient.
Give yourself a break, it is normal to feel overwhelmed as you adjust to managing even one little one, let alone two or more. I’m still in the adjusting stage, so I’m taking the word of other mothers on this one, but already since week 5 when things got really difficult to now (week 7), I can tell you it is slowly getting better.
I hope this reaches another new mom out there who feels the same as I do, and just know this: in this world of perfectly manicured instagrams, you’re not alone in feeling like everything is falling apart.
–Photographs by Elle Bee Studios-