Everyone always talks about how beautiful motherhood is. How amazing, how life altering it is. And yes, it is all of those things but no one talks about the frustration that comes with being a new mom.
Recently, there was a day where I felt like my baby was not falling asleep just to spite me. Completely irrational, I know but that’s what happens when you’ve been dealing with a fussy baby for hours on end who’s successfully resisted all of your efforts to put them to sleep. My baby was dog tired. DOG TIRED! I whipped out all of my go-to tricks to get her to fall asleep and she stared deep into my eyes. And let me know that she was not falling for it. Not today!
I was so frustrated. I knew she was tired. She knew she was tired. So how do I get this beyond tired baby to fall asleep? Luckily her grandma (my mom) lives within walking distance and is more than willing to help when I call. So I called! Calling for help did not come easy for me.
In the beginning I was trying to prove that I could take care of my child myself. Why was I trying to prove this point and to whom was I trying to prove it to? I don’t know!!!! I can’t tell you why I was determined to do everything myself but I can tell you it got real old real quick. I found my patience low, my attitude sucked, and my tolerance was out the window. My parents would offer to babysit and I would turn them down.
One day on the heels of exhaustion, I found myself headed down frustration road and finally broke down. I called my mom for help. She kept my baby while I took a nap. It was not easy. I wanted to pick up the phone every 5 minutes and check on my baby. But I knew in order to get out of the funk I was in, I needed sleep. So I slept. I woke up feeling like a new woman! Something as simple as a nap changed the whole trajectory of my day. After that I realized that I needed help and that there was nothing wrong with asking for it.
Something else I find helpful is expressing myself openly and honestly to my baby. Even though she is still an infant and has little to no idea what I’m saying to her, it’s so freeing to say to her, “look, you have been giving mommy a run for her money today. I am tired and starting to become frustrated so you are going to visit grandma for an hour. Okay? Mommy loves you.” Even though I feel like she has no idea what I’m talking about I think it’s important during new mommy phase to express your feelings out loud. To be and feel heard even if it’s only by your infant. When I find myself beginning to get frustrated I say the aforementioned sentence to my baby (as I am packing her up to head to grandmas) and I actually feel better.
These are the moments I wish moms talked about more. These are the things that expectant moms need to hear. Yes, you will love your baby to the moon and back. You will be more than willing to lay down your life for you infant. But you will also be frustrated. There will be times where you’ve tried all of your tricks and nothing is working and it’s been 10 hours of crying, fussing, and clinginess. Where exhausted is an understatement and all you want is for your baby to sleep so you can sleep. And they won’t! We’re all human and just because you become a mom doesn’t mean you wake up with the patience of Job. You will be and are allowed to be frustrated with your child. Even your infant. It is how you respond in the moments of frustration that matter. It’s recognizing that you are frustrated and need help or some sort of relief and reaching out to someone and saying:
Hey, I’m reaching a point of frustration and could really use some help. Could you come and watch baby for 30 minutes while I take a nap?
Can you watch baby while I run around the corner to the drug store?
I found that the smallest step away does wonders for your nerves! Just having someone watch your baby for 15 minutes while you take a shower in peace does wonders. It gives you time to reset.
I remember a coworker saying to me while I was pregnant to lead in love. She was probably the only person to say to me “there will be rough times. Times where you struggle emotionally. Times where you look at your crying baby and you have to make a choice. Always choose to lead with love.” Basically she was saying, in those times where you are exhausted and looking at your crying baby, you have a choice. A choice to pick up your crying baby or not. Choose love.. choose to pick up your crying baby and hug and kiss them even if that is not the emotional space you are in. The more you choose loving action the easier it is to get past and get out of those frustrating moments. Those moments where you are tired, drained, and feel yourself getting upset.
If you get nothing else from this, please take heed. It is crucial in those early months to ask for and accept help. It will make the adjustment to parenthood so much easier. TRUST ME!
*To all my parents, was there ever a time where you found yourself frustrated with your infant? If so, how did you cope? Please share. My hope is to help at least one soon to be or new mom on their journey.