So, this post is coming from the anticipation of our sweet daughter’s arrival. She is our second babe, and my outlook is totally different the second time around. The obvious feelings of elation, excitement, and joy are abounding. Of course, I love her now inside my womb, but there is nothing like that all encompassing love you experience when you look in their eyes for the first time.
BUT, ignorance is bliss. The first time around there is so much that doesn’t cross your mind because you simply don’t know what to expect it. For example, nobody describes how DIFFICULT breastfeeding can be or how bad the PAIN and healing can be after birth (not to mention the re-balancing of hormones). It took me a solid 12 weeks before I felt normal again. There is a whole litany of what’s new after having your first baby, you can read all about how that was for me here.
There is also something that I now know to expect this time around, and that’s what a challenge it can be for me to care for a new baby as an introvert.
I’m an Introvert and I have to embrace it.
As an introvert, I get VERY DRAINED continually interacting. It’s hard for me to be stimulated all day long and makes my exhaustion unbearable at times. Talk about OVERWHELM!
We all know that when a new baby comes into the world, friends and family come from far and wide, all in the name of love and excitement. There really is nothing more sweet and miraculous than a new baby, something I didn’t fully grasp until I had my own. Your whole universe becomes that baby and caring for him/her. It’s a joyous time, but one that comes with great responsibility, and inevitably stress as well (mainly the good kind).
For me, it’s hard to have people come and visit. I’m tired already from being the sole care-giver for the baby, so having ancillary bodies in my space can be downright aggravating. Typically, dad is of course helping too, but if you’re breastfeeding, you are DEFINITELY carrying a heavier load in those first weeks because it’s your body that has to supply nourishment every two hours. Couple that with the possibility of it being hard at first (like it was for me), by the time you are done with a feeding, it’s only half an hour before it all has to start again. Therefore, the concept of having people there in the mix, it’s just not ideal.
PLUS, add to it that I am obsessive about my home being in order and during “newborn life”, your house just AIN’T in order (unless you have rock-star parents that help you out, thank you!). And for me, I HATE having people over when my house isn’t the way I like it. Trust me, I know this is something I need to work on. Perfectionism is honestly something I struggle with and I have gotten over many hang-ups over the years, but I’m still a work in progress!
What makes it especially hard is knowing people want to be there just out of love. If you’re an introvert, just brace yourself for this part. And the best way to deal with it I found was to just be HONEST! Let people know you are too tired for visitors or give people specific time frames. These two things make it much more manageable, and you won’t feel so overwhelmed because you are in control of what is happening, rather than feeling like it is happening to you.
If I’m being honest.
Being an introvert makes it hard to be a mom sometimes. Sometimes, I want to be alone. Yup, I said it. I want time to myself! I want it to decompress, to reflect, to TAKE A SHOWER, to just be quiet and by my lonesome. As an introvert, being un-stimulated (I just made that up) is refreshing and energizing. It’s like a reboot. And if you’re about to become a parent or plan on it in the future, be aware! You will not get many of these opportunities, and it will begin to make you crazy! You will want to scream “BE QUIET FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!”. Literally, I’ve screamed it before.
It will be hard to balance the need to get away because quite frankly, you can’t really (well, at least for the first 12 weeks). SO, to help you stay tethered together literally schedule a time to take a shower (you need to shower every day to feel like a human), and go for quick errands alone. During those middle of the night feedings, listen to your favorite podcast or read a book. It gives you a moment to recharge.
Just know Mama that you will be sacrificing yourself in what will feel like insurmountable ways, but there does come a point where a new balance is found. You will land on a new normal and it will be wonderful because now you have a new soul that loves you and that you love in an indescribable way!
DO NOT FEEL GUILTY. You are normal.
Give yourself grace and take breaks. When you feel that wave of annoyance, exhaustion, and being just ticked off… step away. Take a deep breath in and slowly let it out. I read in a book (don’t remember what book) that taking 5 slow deep breaths alters your heart-rate, brings more oxygen to your brain, and gives you a moment to get re-centered. This doesn’t seem so profound and I’m sure you’ve heard people say “take a deep breath’ when you’re upset…but listen to me, it really works! Just do yourself the favor and kinda mentally prepare for these moments. Take the help when offered, and don’t take on the mentality that you must be all things at all times.
You are only human (even though we really know moms are superheros). You won’t be able to be 100 every moment of everyday, it’s just a fact.
Self-care is important and while it will be VERY LIMITED, it is CRITICAL! Think about the habits, hobbies, or passions that you would love to spend all your extra time doing, researching, or being a part of, and consider to what extent you can incorporate them. They may be a little different than usual or be only a portion of what you’re used to, BUT they will have a greater impact because it will be a precious time for you. Go as far as planning actual times in your calendar. This gives you accountability and hopefully will motivate you to make the necessary effort. Not only will this be beneficial for you, but like they say…what’s good for you is ultimately good for your family because you’re in a better state of mind.
My things are exercise and doing this (blogging). I soon as I’m cleared to resume normal activity, I’ll get back to my workout routine, and I will make plans to blog. I work them in during nap times, scheduled babysitter times, and even sacrificing what little sleep I do get by getting up before everyone (typically 5AM). I know that I’m my best when I have time for these things in my life, therefore, there is no compromise. Just commit and DON’T FEEL GUILTY!
In those breakdown moments breathe deep, step away if you have to, and give yourself grace.
It is what it is.
There is so much that changes once having a child, and on the broad scale, it’s all more than good. The days are long but they go by fast at the same time. There are so many times I have to remember that one day I will cry to have these days back. To be in this phase of life with my babies under my wings, with so much love physically around me all the time, and age on my side. When I can see what I truly have in front of me, my appreciation supersedes my struggles.
Being an introvert is hard, but you (I) can still be a really great mom. Those times that seem completely impossible are just blips in the radar. We don’t have to be overcome with angst and worry. We just have to understand why we are reacting or feeling a certain way and address it.
You are a mom, and you can do this!