You Have Plenty of Time to Love Them Later
Unsolicited Advice for the Mothers of Newborns
By Summer Block
1. It’s only .004% of your life.
If I could only say one thing to every pregnant woman out there, it would be this: it’s only a short time. The sleeplessness and the feeding and the crying and the leaking and the general overwhelming crappiness, it just goes by. Everyone knows this intellectually and yet it’s really hard to have that perspective when it’s 3am and you haven’t eaten and you haven’t showered and the night just seems to go on and on forever and you find yourself thinking, This is my life now, my horrible, horrible life. Know that this is not the new normal, this is a blip. Just buckle down and get through it and it’s over. Unless and until you’re stupid enough to do it again.
2. Don’t do any big stupid things.
For the first year of this baby’s life, don’t make any major decisions. Now is not the time to get married, get divorced, quit your job, start a new job, buy a house, sell a house, move across the country, or do things involving big sums of money.
I hesitate to put this out there, because I think a lot of the talk about pregnant women and new mothers and their “mommy brain” is infantilizing and sexist and reductive and yet — it’s true, you are really tired. You are tired even if you do not know you are tired. I am a naturally high-energy person, I had an easy baby who slept through the night from a young age, I had a flexible job I could do from home and a partner who wasn’t awful all of the time, and yet despite these things, I was still tired enough to find myself standing on my porch trying to open my front door with my car clicker and then, when it didn’t work, actually thinking, “It must be out of batteries.”
Almost the entire first year I had my daughter I felt like I felt fine — it was only around the one-year mark that I looked around and realized, I have been totally out of it for the last year of my life.
And yes, there are hormonal fluctuations to deal with, and maybe also issues with recovery or feeding or postpartum depression or your work leave or the absence thereof. And it’s not just you, either. Your partner, if you have one, is tired too, and…