Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

To All First-Time Mothers

It's hard. The end.

Haha--sorry, that wasn't very compassionate! With all of the information that is available about how much your baby should be eating, sleeping, pooping, etc., it's no wonder we rarely bother to read about ourselves. We skip over the post-partum depression checklist, we breeze through the post-pregnancy marital relations articles,  and every other mother we see seems to reflect a picture-perfect scenario, while I'm still struggling to take a shower by noon.

And when anyone asks how I like motherhood, I always give a "It's wonderful!" Because I know that it is and that it should be, even if I don't feel it 24/7--haha.

I'm going to share some of my "shocks", some of my tips, and I encourage all of you to create a blog post for other mothers. I am blessed to not be struggling being a first-time mom, but I believe that most new mothers struggle.

After you've created your post, I would love it if you pasted a link to your helpful post in the comments below.

1. It's full-time work.
Now, this is an obvious. But seriously! Once I had Adaline, I think that was one thing that really hit home: there is no break. It's constant. And that can be a little overwhelming, especially if you like your freedom. And not "freedom" necessarily, but just not being able to do as many "normal" daily tasks as you used to do.

2. It's a constant guessing game. 
I thought it would be textbook figuring out how much Adaline should eat, when she should sleep, and what's wrong when she cries. I mean, there's so much information out there, it should be easy, right? (And it seemed so easy when I was watching other people's kids. ;) So, we play the guessing game until we get it all figured out and she's in a routine, and then--it changes. And you have to start all over again. ;)

3. Overflowing love is not 24/7.
I waited so long for Adaline, I thought I would be in a constant state of overwhelming love for her 24/7. Haha, yes, you can laugh! But hey--this was true for the first few months! I was seriously never angry and rarely frustrated (except at myself) for probably the first four months.

4. Anger and Anxiety.
I don't know if I've experience anxiety before. But I'm really glad that I'm able to recognize it. I don't know what happened once Addie turned 5 or 6 months, but it was like I had no patience anymore--haha. I think I assumed that because she was older, she wouldn't cry as much, and it would be easier to know what she's crying about. This is entirely not true. (At least for my child.) 

What I've done to overcome this is pure mental effort. And it takes practice. First, I recognize my emotions, then I mentally calm myself (not to the point where I'm dead to the world, that's different and not good) and at the same time, I humble myself. It's like pushing down a brick wall with your bare hands. I call upon Heavenly Father and I make sure I'm prepared to receive any inspiration He will give me. I'm willing to think about how to help Addie without getting overwhelmed or angry. I'm able to respond in a way that is positive. And I'm still learning. 

Mothers, you must take a step outside at least once everyday and that does not include walking to the car in order to get inside and drive somewhere. Even if it's a blizzard--put on a coat, wrap your baby up, and stand outside for 5 minutes. Just get outside!

I know this word can create a bad taste in some people's mouths, but exercise doesn't have to be this really hard thing. It can just be going outside for a stroll. It can be dancing with your child around the house. There are not many stairs to get to my apartment, but I run up them anyway whenever I come home. ;) Little things like that will help you to keep up some energy. 

If you seriously need exercise, though, try to find what motivates you. Most of the time the best thing is a work-out buddy. Get one of these ASAP if you really need to exercise more. Or if you're not too prideful, have your husband hold you accountable. ;) Be honest with yourself when figuring out what works.

Hey--if you're not eating healthy, you're not going to have the energy you need to be patient, loving, informed, happy, etc. The first lesson I learned about eating while having a baby is 1) take the time and 2) when you have the time, don't multi-task! If you multi-task, you won't finish eating before something happens. So, when it's time to eat, just sit there and eat.

4. One thing at a time.
Everyday I plan to get one thing done. Dishes. Laundry. Bathroom. And if I don't get it done, I don't hate myself. I just tell myself what my priorities are, and sometimes dishes just doesn't quite make it as a priority that day. Remember--your priorities are the baby and your husband, and when there's a newborn, sometimes those two priorities get flip-flopped back and forth. And remember--you can try tomorrow. (And if you don't get them done the next day, ask your husband for help and don't feel like a failure.) 

Oh, and even after 7 months, my goal is still to get Addie and myself ready by lunchtime. I'm hoping this will help some of you out there feel better about yourselves. ;)

Never underestimate what this can do for you. If your church congregation/ward does not have a mother's group, think about starting one. Find someone who will help so you don't have to plan everything on your own. Spend time with other women!!

6. Take time for God.
Addie and I read scriptures together everyday. Even at 7 months, she loves to read books with pictures, but doesn't care much for the scriptures--haha. I read them in my most exciting and adventurous voice possible, and sometimes it works. Sometimes we get through a couple verses, and sometimes it's a chapter. If I don't get my personal scripture study done for the day, I feel that at least I've read something--and it was with Addie.

P.S. Short prayers count.

Tip before you have the baby
1. Start healthy habits, including going to mother's groups, before the baby comes. For the first few months, you might not feel like you need to socialize--or that you need many of the tips above--but later, you will definitely need them!!

Some other stuff
I love this scripture:

"He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young" (Isaiah 40:11).

I have a document of scriptures and quotes that are really helpful during hard times. Click here to access it. Post these around the house to help you!

Most new mothers struggle. A lot. And even after the first baby, mothers struggle! But if you try to handle it by yourself, you're not going to make it. (Or if you do, will you still have your sanity? ;) I beg  you to listen to what your body, mind and emotions tell you, then find ways to overcome any difficulties that arise. Stay open with your husband, but you can't depend entirely on him. You have to depend on yourself, your husband, your family, and the support group of other mothers and people in your community and church. 

And, people! If you notice someone post a status on facebook that obviously sounds like they're struggling, don't just make a comment that says "I'm sorry, I'll pray for you." People! Give them a call or a visit. Seriously.

Follow my tips and make your own! Put them on your blog, and paste the link to it in my comments. :)


  1. Great post Annie. I think it will help lots of people.

  2. Annie, this sounds a lot like how I felt after I had my first- Lots of love, but also anxiety and wondering how in the world I was ever going to get a shower in every day... Also, my son was a little fussy and struggled with change, even if it was someone different than me or Kris holding him. It was challenging and I definitely had days where I felt angry, then hated myself for resenting a helpless little infant. It so depends on the kid and how they are, and especially when it is such a new world! My experience with my 2nd has been 100% different! I have been much more laid back, patient, and he is the most easygoing baby. I don't know how much that has to do with me knowing what to do more this time, (probably a big help!) or if it's just because he has an easier nature than my first... Either way, great post and great honesty :) All the tips definitely help me every day!

  3. Well stated. Thanks for the post! You are a great writer.

  4. I'm really thankful for this post! It does a great job of explaining how I often feel :) I love being a mom, but wow some days are so incredibly hard. And it's not like work or school where when I needed a break, I just took one or relaxed when I got home from a long day. I saw you called last week and I really want to call & talk... it's just crazy how each days go by and you wonder where in the world the time went. And now here it is a whole week later and I can't even believe it! But I'll call soon b/c I really want to catch up! Thanks again for all of your wonderful & inspiring posts. Your writing style is fun to read & your posts are uplifting and sincere. :) Talk soon!

  5. Just amazing.....and some things I know I should be doing, but it's just sooo hard to start! I need some motivation :) Thanks