Everything happened so fast. I think most mothers I met agree that these four words practically sum up the early stages of our motherhood. We can describe this stage as both THE BEST and THE HARDEST times we have gone through so far, yes?
As mothers, I believe that we need to have the courage to admit that as much as we want to have control over our lives (planning, organising every year, month or daily), we can only do so much.
Sadly, our reflex is to keep going and move forward because we think those people relying on us should always come first, and we can’t let them down. This kind of mindset tends to produce severely exhausted moms. Gracefully facing and dealing with these changes, especially during the beautiful season of having a baby, is one key to avoiding this trap.
These changes or just about any change is inevitable. Just how many times do you think have we heard or read that before?
No matter how much you want your life to stay the same, nature pushes us to, well, GROW.
We instinctively develop new desires as we mature, but we don’t get as much preparation as we need. Hence, we have no choice but to dive into our new tasks with new responsibilities that could be truly overwhelming.
Here at The Parenting Co, we aim to help new and seasoned moms face their new season with more grace, joy and endurance (we need more endurance). Even if you’re having your first baby, or if it’s your fifth one, you will still undergo a process of change as a woman and as a human being.
The bottom line is that having a baby changes your life. Read on to learn about how four women, coming from different lifestyles and backgrounds, handled their change challenge.
The Change Challenge
1. From ‘Just-got-out-of-my-teen-years’ to ‘Just-had-a-baby!’
Remember Britney Spears’ infamous song I’m Not A Girl, Not Yet a Woman? The song became a huge hit upon its release as a lot of young girls were able to relate to the pains of undergoing a tough transition.
The song describes the situation of someone who feels stuck in between changes. Some moments feel so raw and rough, some beautiful. In this particular stage, our thoughts and feelings are somewhat difficult to decipher, let alone explain what we’re going through.
While we should view motherhood as a sacred calling, there are still a lot of facets to our lives as women; motherhood is just one. It’s not a secret, however, that many moms feel like they haven’t enjoyed the other seasons of their lives prior to motherhood. It usually happens to girls who have experienced early pregnancy, around the ages of 19 to 22.
Although some young mothers somehow pull it off, others start to harbour regrets which inevitably leads to a lack of focus and grit to enjoy the whole motherhood experience.
Vanya, 20, a sales assistant, says she went through the same stage where she got her old and new roles and responsibilities mixed up.
‘There were days when I wanted to see my friends at our favourite clubs on Friday nights, but I also didn’t want to go because I knew I would be missing my baby girl so much. Part of me wanted to party because I felt like I miss myself.
My husband was even so supportive about letting me go out and have some fun, but I was the problem.
I knew I changed because of my little girl. It took me a little more time to ease into the adjustment, but it was clear right from the start that being a mother was my priority. I still suffer from mood swings and ask for petty requests, but overall, I would say that I went into maturity really fast and hard! I was just 19!’
2. From Career Woman to Changing Dirty Diapers
One moment, you’re acing a presentation at work and the next thing you know, you’re dashing through your mommy duties at home. The transition can be pretty drastic. A go-getter kind of woman who amazingly breezes through a chaotic day in the corporate world may find herself completely clueless on her pregnancy or day one as an actual mom.
You should spare yourself from the frustration of trying to immediately be the best mom when your world looks like it’s falling apart. During this transition, keep in mind that motherhood is nothing like climbing up the corporate ladder. There’s no need to impress anyone. You deserve to enjoy and celebrate every moment with your little one.
Women between the ages of 25 and 31 fall into this category. These women are already slowly establishing themselves in their careers just at the time when a bundle of joy suddenly comes knocking into their lives.
You realise you’re in an all-new position of vulnerability, a new, unfamiliar territory. The challenge is in the adjustment, and you need to be more patient with yourself. Again, motherhood is not about performance. Relax.
Brittany, 29, a creative director for a fashion magazine and now a mom of two boys, tells her tale of the tape:
‘I was lucky enough to have my mother-in-law, Tess, by my side as my personal mentor and guide. She helped through phase after phase. In my first few weeks of being a mother, I was just straight-on awkward and clumsy.
I barely recognised myself as I was used to being in control and in power. It felt like I had a goal to please my husband and everyone in his family. I wanted to prove that I could also be an ‘expert mom’.
Then, I got tired of the continuous show I kept putting on. Tess did the whole mommy coaching thing with me and just bluntly told me to stop the act because she was not buying it.
She told me, ‘Sorry to disappoint you honey, but there’s no such thing as an expert mom’. She taught me patiently like I was a freshman in college. It was hilarious for both of us especially because I was crying and laughing all at the same time.
I looked crazy! Looking back, I’m glad I took time off work just to focus on my first baby. Those times were priceless’.
3. From Wild and Hot Wife to Cool and Wacky Mom
Sex by the fire at night, silk sheets and diamonds all white.
We moms would like to imagine this Bruno Mars song describes our exact routine with our husbands every night, don’t we?
But in reality, it’s way, way different!
There’s just so much to do in a day! It’s already becoming a struggle to give ourselves some me-time; how else are we supposed to give our husbands their share of our time? What seemed like endless hours of playtime in the bedroom before has turned into a sleep shifting schedule.
You’re not the only one who’s going to see this transition as a drag. Your husband might also be feeling down in the dumps. Though he may not voice it out, he must be missing all your lace lingerie and is having a hard time adapting to the loose, mommy panties.
When this happens, be careful not to let it get to your head.
You’re exhausted as it is. Don’t let your confidence be crippled. You’re still sexy. You’re one, hot momma! Give yourself a slap on the butt!
We could hardly imagine that a woman in the likes of Samantha Jones from the epic TV show Sex and the City, played by the talented Kim Cattrall, would find herself at the mercy of this whole kind of ‘baby situation’.
Women in their ‘young’ age (around mid-30s to early 40s) turn out to have a nasty experience while in transition. We can remember one episode where her character Samantha even threw an ‘I don’t have a baby’ shower.
Women who wear their shoes are usually naturally exuding with self-confidence and appeal. They are known to be fashionable and fearless with no room for inhibitions. They thrive in an atmosphere of bewilderment and mystery.
Then, a baby comes; suddenly, the atmosphere changes to regular days of pancakes and eggs.
The magic is gone, and the only conversation about sucking is when the baby needs breastfeeding.
As if that wasn’t enough change, you gradually see yourself transform into a clown, dancer, juggler, jingle-singer and all-around entertainer. Having a baby is more than enough reason to make you the new master of knock-knock jokes and memorise the opening song of Spongebob Squarepants since your baby seems to dig it.
You’ve thrown your bodycon dress and red stilettos back to the closet in exchange for extra loose shirts, rainbow socks and the mom jeans (okay, maybe minus the rainbow socks).
Susan, 41, wife to an uber-rich business tycoon, shares how underrated her situation is:
‘Before all the unruly sobbing and the wailing, it was just me and my husband, Frank. We used to travel to different cities almost every night. Our constant companion was Mr. Johnny Walker on ice. We would spontaneously kiss and cuddle anywhere.
We were the envy of our friends–the couple who you think will live forever young, know what I mean? He was a romantic man, and I was his sassy wife. All we could ever think of was being elusive to time–UNTIL time caught on us.
It was abrupt.
We couldn’t believe what happened. It was like we got the surprise of our lives. Things were still bearable when I got pregnant, but our romantic pursuit slowly went downhill when our little Adam was born.
Our bodies were so dead-tired the whole day that we didn’t have the energy to stay up and enjoy intimacy with each other. I guess that’s how having a baby changes your life. It was so challenging.
But, you know what?
I wouldn’t trade having Adam for the world. If I was to choose whether I would want to go back to eloping every night with my husband or my new life as Adam’s mom, I’m ready to give up all that crazy fun. Nothing is more romantic for me now than seeing my husband gaze at our son’s smiling face and feel at peace. Now that’s sexy’.
4. From One Bouncing Baby to Two Bouncing Bubbas
When you thought that the changes are over and done, then comes baby number two. After passing motherhood level one, you think to yourself, ‘Well, that wasn’t so bad!’ You might, out of reckless excitement, even blurt out, ‘I can’t wait to do it again!’
The question is, do you?
Your first take on motherhood may have made you a legend to your husband and your friends, but a second baby is ALWAYS a different story. New moms find it the hardest when the period between having their first child and their second child was super short that they hardly had time to rest. If the adjustment was hard the first time, the second one would surely be far more memorable.
Then there’s also the two other adjustments you have to deal with aside from yourself when having your second baby. Making a brand new daily routine with your husband and guiding your eldest to ease into the role of big brother/sister.
Some moms have experienced toddler tantrums fueled by jealousy over so much attention given to the would-be new member of the family. Others say that they could have sworn THE BABY was the one getting jealous.
The baby most probably felt that the first child was loved and cared for that it kept on kicking and squirming inside its swim tank. If you are in between two kids, no matter what age you are right now, we feel you. Your role is extra special, so we offer extra special support for you, too.
Carol, a small-town bakeshop owner, had her first child when she was 25 and found out she was pregnant with her second baby just eight months after. She shares her sentiments:
‘It wasn’t exactly a walk in the park, but I wasn’t so miserable either. I was at work when the nurse from the neighbourhood clinic called me and told me I was pregnant–again. Of course, I got mixed emotions. I wasn’t exactly thrilled enough to be jumping and screaming, but I do remember smiling to myself a little.
That night, I immediately told my husband, Jacob.
When I saw his face light up, I was relieved. His reaction was way better than mine. He was calm as a clam when I was about to go ballistic.
He took care of me during the second nine months. I could say that we even got closer as a couple. It was a real major turning point of our relationship. He helped me figure things out, and the best thing was–he listened to my rants and complaints.
But when it came to our sons, I was still the one who was more hands-on. Though my husband’s like an angel and shares the house chores with me. It was fantastic! My to-do list looked more like a thesaurus.
My nails terribly missed the nail salon for about two years. You can only imagine how thankful I am for my husband’s support. He was the one who was always eager to let me soak in the bathtub. I did that every Friday night.
Eventually, we worked as a team and got used to the new routine. Now, our son Dean just turned three and our baby Sophie is now two, closely behind him a few months’.
How Having a Baby Changes Your Life (Science Gives Moms the Truth)
There are too many changes to keep track of. It’s like there’s a million of them. There are also so many assumptions and unofficial ‘effective’ methods to cope with these changes. Which is correct and which is not? Since we want to debunk the long list of theories about how having a baby changes your life, we have narrowed down some of these notably common changes just for you.
The most common changes a new mother goes through are as follows:
- Production of lactation hormones
- Fetal cells enter and spread throughout the body
- Hair loss partnered with less time to wash hair (almost no time at all)
- Skin discoloration
- Swollen breasts
- Stomach changes
- Flabs across the abdomen
- Stretch marks
- Extra weight in your back
- Postpartum urinary incontinence
- Stretching of the vaginal area
- Swollen legs
- Varicose veins
- Sudden energy surges
- Excessive sweating
Physical changes are a big deal. Even if we try to believe that it doesn’t affect us, it does. For us women, how we look influences how we feel. It’s painful to look at yourself every morning and not be happy with the person you’ve become.
Aside from undergoing the expected changes as we become mothers, we may also neglect taking care of our bodies. It usually happens when we settle down with our partner and we’ve become too comfortable. The more we are comfortable, the more likely we will sit back and allow the changes to take over us.
Do not compromise.
Ask yourself, ‘Is this really how I want to look?’
I cannot emphasise how important exercise is whatever age we may be. Doctors and coaches advise it, and we at The Parenting Co agree. Invest in yourself. Visit the gym often. Run. Find a group you can ride a bike with. Join a dance class. Go for that long-awaited salon or spa trip and get a makeover.
Just take care of yourself.
You deserve to feel good about yourself. You may not fit in your size 5 dresses anymore, but it doesn’t mean you have to give up flaunting your classy style when dressing up. Learn to love your body and the changes happening to it. Embrace your flaws and keep giving your body the TLC it needs.
- Change of priorities
- Possible improvement of memory and learning abilities
- Constant worrying about providing for the family
- Daily desire to shortly escape into a fantasy world
- Thoughts of guilt and disappointment
- Irritable and restless
- Loss of interest in certain activities
- Fear of being alone
Your brain is like a piano, and your mind is the pianist. Your thoughts determine your decisions and actions. When you become a mother, it will not seem like your thoughts are stable. Trust me. Sometimes, you’ll get confused and question what you’ve done.
Women are thinkers and are more prone to overthinking during pregnancy and afterwards. There will be times you will think what you are doing is not good enough and try to figure out always how you can do better, only to end up stressing yourself out.
Don’t go nuts yet.
The truth is every mother feels this way because we have a stronger and more sensitive gut. However, we need to make sure we don’t make a habit out of overthinking. There is no way we can entertain negative thoughts and not have adverse outcomes.
Sometimes, our constant worrying turns us into fearful mothers, and that’s the last thing that could help our child and the whole family. Take into careful consideration what kind of thoughts you gather into your head.
- Starts building empathy towards others
- Bigger heart for kids
- Feel fulfilment
- Have so much patience
- Stir up compassion
The most significant change a woman can observe about herself is in the area of her emotions. We are emotional human beings, so we must put a lot of attention to it, too. These changes can affect you positively–or not so positive if you’re not aware.
You may suddenly notice you’re becoming too dramatic or too ecstatic. These are brought about by hormonal changes. There will be days when you wouldn’t recognise who you are anymore because of your shocking attitude (I know I do and I even talk to myself saying ‘Who are you??’).
People around you will also get puzzled, and you could provoke some weird looks and comments. Cheer up! These too shall pass. Focus on the positive changes you’re experiencing, like when your baby smiles and you get a warm, fuzzy feeling deep inside or when you can’t wait to get home to your baby and realise you’ve found a purpose bigger than yourself.
There’s always a bright side to all the changes. Part of being human is learning more about oneself and adapting to change. So keep learning, mommy!
- Develop slight sensitivity over losing identity
- Values and uses time wisely
- Increase in social interaction
- Sense of protectiveness
- Overwhelming affection
- Obsessive-compulsive behaviour
- Appetite changes
- Inability to cope with a daily routine
It’s a big adjustment when you become accountable for another person aside from yourself, especially when that person needs you in terms of feeding, sleeping, and nurturing, the BASICS according to Maslow.
The change begins when everything in your life is centralised around your baby (because they’re our worlds) and you merely become selfless. Thoughts about losing your identity at this stage may cross your mind now and then. It’s a real symptom of how having a baby changes your life.
There may be fewer opportunities to go out with your friends, and you may also feel less interested in stuff single people blab about, but you don’t have to feel bad about it. It naturally follows that you want to talk more about motherhood and troubleshoot all its issues.
Anyway, you need all the support you can get.
But that doesn’t mean that you can’t hang out with your friends during weekends. Friday mojito nights are still fun. Just expect that your conversation will not be full-on girl stuff.
Prepare a disclaimer you will use as an intro during ladies’ night: ‘Girls, I am going to talk about my baby all night; please bear with me’. Another change of behaviour you should look out for is being overprotective with your baby, and you may also catch yourself doing it to the people around you.
A lot of your friends may see you now as a big sister. It is just natural since your mother’s instinct is developing, but not everyone will like it; beware. Ultimately, you’re inevitably going to get complaints from your friends about how you’re always too stressed, too tired or too sleepy to go to events with them even if it’s just eight in the evening. Our advice is if they’re your real friends, they’d understand.
What Science Says
Pregnancy and motherhood significantly affect a woman in different ways because it is life-changing. Psychologically and physiologically speaking, the changes that affect the brain are most likely permanent, as stated by neuroscientist Dr. Liisa Galea.
In turn, this automatically reflects on our behaviour whether we like to or not. It is an excellent reason to take our time and understand ourselves. The last thing we want is to feel pressured into copying another mom’s routine just because we think it’s okay. It may be working perfectly for others, but changes are still different from case to case.
Don’t forget that it’s okay to take a break. If you don’t, you’ll find your body starting to force you to do so, sooner or later.
How to Deal with the Changes
If all the sudden changes overwhelm you, it’s about time we do something about it. It’s crazy to keep going when you feel like you’re already losing your marbles. It may be hard to pause because motherhood tends to demand time and attention, but don’t sink into the quicksand yet. Take these helpful tips with you as you go along into your mommy journey:
1. Get help.
While we want others to see us as the supermom we try to be, nobody is perfect. All of us could all use a little help sometimes. Surround yourself with people you can trust. It can be your mom, someone in your husband’s family, your girlfriends, or a trusted co-worker. You might as well remember you have a husband ready to support you, too.
Asking for help is never a sign of weakness but a sign of pride. Every mother who has gone through the same process of pregnancy will testify that support is one of the most critical element to ace this season.
Refer to reliable books, sites or magazines that can give you more information about motherhood. There are good ones that discuss how having a baby changes your life and how to cope.
We also live in a culture where it is not shameful to ask for professional help or see a doctor often. You can talk to a counsellor or a psychiatrist. We need to look for a particular place where we can feel safe and talk out our frustrations without being judged. Just remember you are not alone.
2. Take it slow.
Motherhood is not a race nor a competition. It’s important to give yourself some breathing room and learn at your own pace. Reject the need to compare yourself with someone all the time. End your battle with fear and doubt.
Stop thinking, ‘Am I doing this right? Why isn’t my baby latching yet?’ Also, don’t fast forward your life just yet. Enjoy each day as a blessing and a gift. Harbour an attitude of gratefulness and embrace each day with its beautiful rewards.
Remind yourself that you are doing a good job so far. Restrain yourself from overthinking; it won’t help you. Always try to think of positive things. Go on vacation whenever you can. Go and visit your favourite beach to feel the sand in your toes and the sun on your face.
Listen to some calming music or read your favourite book. Self-care doesn’t need to stop when you are taking care of a family. Most importantly, SLEEP.
3. Start a hobby.
I have met a lot of new mothers who have put their families at the centre of their world. Sure, this is natural since we have only dreamt of having our own families our entire lives. We, however, still need to take care of ourselves.
Even if we think we have so much to do in a day that we are begging to have one or two more hours, taking time to learn a new skill will be good for us. I know a mom who has been yearning to learn how to sew, and she finally did during the early months of taking care of her newly born son.
Whenever her son is sleeping, she would watch instructional videos and try them out in her sewing machine. Next thing she knew, she was making her baby clothes! Find ways on how to feel good about yourself. It is not the time to lose your confidence. Don’t put it in someone else’s hands. The power to choose to be happy is still yours.
We still want to share more helpful tips with you. If there is anything you want to learn more about, let us know in the comment section below. Keep posted for more useful articles and videos. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, and we’ll hook you up with more tips, news and discounts you should take note of. We got you, mom!