This Friday will mark eight weeks since I became a mom.
I’m a MOM. Say whaaaaaaat??
I still don’t feel like someone’s mother. I have a mother, I know many mothers-but me? It still has not hit me that I am now included in that group and yet in many ways I feel like I’ve been Henry’s mom for a long time. It’s taken me two months to even be able to attempt to write something about this because it’s still so overwhelming. I look at him while he’s sleeping in my arms and vacillate between complete disbelief and all consuming love and desire to protect and care for this little being. My son.
I was nervous I wouldn’t feel that way. And to be honest, it took me a little while to be overcome by love and “mama-bear” kind of feelings. I was never a super maternal person- which is partially why we waited a long time to have a baby. I wasn’t sure I even wanted it. And when I finally became pregnant I worried a lot about not feeling the same instant all-consuming love that other mothers described. And to be perfectly honest, for the first two weeks I didn’t. I was completely clothes lined by the overwhelming task of caring for this fragile little being that needed me to survive. It was terrifying and anxiety producing for me, a chronic worrier by nature. And it seems silly but the fact that he looked so different than what I pictured he would also kept me from feeling the instant bond I thought I was supposed to have. Being a dark and ridiculously hairy person (truly, there are scarring memories of middle school teasing about my “gorilla legs”) I was baffled by this blonde, hairless little fella who really looked nothing like me at all!
And then the mastitis threw me for a major loop- feeling like you’ve been hit by a truck paired with no sleep, breastfeeding drama (the illness totally threw us off our groove and Henry started losing weight) and a crying newborn made for a pretty weepy, inconsolable Erin. I felt like my relatively easy, managed, happy life was GONE FOREVER and instead I had this needy baby stuck on my boob 24-7. Not to mention my ability to not keep up with this blog, my company and adult life in general. I was sad, stressed and so terrified that I wasn’t doing enough to keep Henry healthy and happy while also forgoing my own health and happiness. I recall holding him crying, while he was crying, and saying to Andrew “why do people do this more than once???”
But I made sure to keep going to talk with my therapist about all these feelings, and she helped me realize that how I felt wasn’t all that abnormal. It’s a very hard change to go from an independent, busy, working gal to having to be at the beck and call of a newborn. And the lack of bonding was pretty common too. It helped to hear that and know that it too would pass.
And it did. After I sort of “hit bottom” I started to bounce back. I stopped trying to “do it all” and settled into not being able to do much at all other than take care of Henry and take care of myself. Which was such a hard change of gears for someone who is happiest when insanely busy. But it became nice and calming to know all I needed to do in a day was simply nurse, bond and snuggle with my baby. And maybe read some celebrity gossip and check my email to stay sane. :) Breastfeeding became less stressful and way more enjoyable. In fact, I have gotten so used to it that I am pretty confident sometime in the near future I will answer my door without realizing I have a boob hanging out (” Oh heeeyyyyy UPS man! What’s up?!”) Now motherhood feels natural and joyful and when little Henry smiles at me my heart just swells to previously unknown proportions.
And so today I return to work part-time and feel both very sad to leave him and very excited to get back into my working groove. I’m worried about him fussing with his bottles, leaving him with his nanny and not being here to watch him like a hawk- but yet the idea of sitting amongst a pile of fabrics and working on new homes is so thrilling! GROWN UP STUFF! YAAAAYYYYY! The fact that I can come home during the day to be with him for an hour or so helps a lot with my ability to not be a sobbing mess over it. I know that once I am comfortable with this new schedule and leaving him I will love the balance of work and motherhood. I know as much as I fear leaving him that the full time stay at home mom thing is not for me. Some women just KNOW that is what they were meant to do, but I never did.
What I do know is that I am completely and totally in love with my son and SO, SO grateful that science and medicine and whole lot of hoping allowed us to have this beautiful boy. I look at him and just want more than anything for him to be healthy, happy and successful- on his terms, not mine. Whatever it turns out brings him joy, be it dancing or being a doctor (and I’m dying to know what it is!), I want him to find the kind of satisfaction in life that I have. I want him to know he is loved and supported by his father and I no matter what. He has given me the gift of removing my focus on myself and instead putting it on someone else- which actually has made me a much happier person with a real purpose beyond the material and selfish. The world has come into perspective a bit more, and for that I will be forever grateful.
So thanks for letting me be your mom Henry- as absurd as it may still seem to me!
Erin, I’ve been following your blog for a long time, but this is my first time commenting. I am so happy for you and Andrew. I can totally relate to your early experiences. I really did not have that immediate ‘love at first sight’ that so many people describe, I think I was in total shock. I also very clearly remember saying to my husband about 4 weeks in ‘I’ll tell you what I’m never doing again- having a baby’. So far I’ve been true to my word, but when I see pictures of sweet babies like Henry I feel that maternal tug. My first day back at work was a mix of terror at leaving her with a babysitter and pure joy at riding the subway and just being by myself. Welcome to being a parent, it is truly insane and amazing- you’re going to be great!
Love this post. After my first baby I kept thinking “why are there so many humans?!?” It’s was all textbook until I experienced it myself. It’s so much more chaotic and emotional than I thought it would be, and when the baby looked nothing like me at all (again with a bald blond! What gives?) I felt like the baby was a stranger, I loved the baby, and felt an overwhelming responsibility and all that, but didn’t feel like I knew the baby. It all worked out and now I’m pregnant with baby #2 (I still don’t know why there are so many humans).
I loved reading this. It’s been a tough week at our house, firstborn headed back to college 1200 miles away and the house seems so empty without him. Your description of new motherhood really made me smile. Prepare yourself to fall more in love with that little guy everyday.
Great job so far! It’s a hard struggle and you got through a major low point. I am pretty type A (my father in law calls in Type Double A) and so the newborn slowdown hit me majorly hard, not to mention I had no idea what I was doing with the baby and got no sleep. I had been working a high pressure full time finance job until the day before my son was board. At three weeks post-partum, I looked at my husband in all seriousness in the middle of the night and asked “what did we do??” The bittersweet news is that the pain and suffering of the newborn phase is dulled in time by foggy memories of it all – I call it a biological imperative to forget or, as you said, no one would do it a second time.
I lamented not being able to be nearly as productive as I had been just days/weeks prior to baby. I found it impossible to leave the house before 2pm, not to mention trying to shower or anything else. Someone once said to me that her goal at the end of the day was three people alive (she, her husband and baby). That kind of right-sized the perspective for me on the unrealistic expectations I put on myself, and in doing so was missing out on the fleeting and unparalleled sweet moments of just “being” with my little guy.
No one tells you how hard it will really be. On the other hand we really don’t fully appreciate the reality until we live it for ourselves anyway, right? You’re doing great. Go easy on yourself – from one recovering perfectionist to another.
You’ve made it and will continue making it through. Start video recording him !!! My husband and I have just started digitizing and uploading all our daughters baby videos. She’s 14 now. The videos are so funny and at the same time so sad. It really does seem like just yesterday. Please film him whenever you get a chance you won’t regret it. Pictures are great but videos are like travelling back in a time machine!
This is exactly how I felt when my son was born – even the part about him not looking anything like what I expected (and we did stop at one!). I think it’s so great that you are sharing this perspective. Thank you!
I’m 5 months along and already worried about the back to work balance. :-/ Would love to learn more about how you found your nanny. What resources did you use locally?
He’s so stinking adorable, I can’t stand it!!! P.S. Kudos to you for being honest about how hard motherhood can be. I know you will bring peace to a lot of women by your “confession.” You ROCK!
Beautifully written and so honest and heartfelt. I am “out the other end” with children. My son is 24 years old and I am now 58 years old. I Erin like you, was driven professionally and never felt this maternal thing that everyone spoke about and went back to work in the high tech space after 4 weeks ( 2 weeks maternity leave , plus tacking on 2 weeks vacation). I remember going to work and feeling (1). incredibly depressed leaving him and worried he would be harmed or ignored and (2) with joy that my mind was functioning again and I was in a professional fast paced environment. I felt like I was going nuts! Just remember this is normal and what is most important is that Henry has a healthy, happy Mom who knows what is the right thing for her, the more you are in tune and live authentically, aware and mindful -the more focus and love you will provide to Henry. Everyone has their own experiences and journey regarding motherhood and you are forging your own path as a Mom. As Henry grows there will be new experiences to get through. My most recent personal experience has been a son that has done a bit of a “walk about ” regarding college – fishing two years, changed majors 3 times in two years, took a break, worked and now is back in college. I thought I had enough gray hairs that I was covering up and this stop and start brought more on – but, this is what he needed to really figure out what was best for him and what I needed to do was to support his path and exploration. Even though I was soooo anxious about, will this kid find his way and “make it”. So you never stop worrying regardless of the age of your children. I have been reading your blog for years and you are a strong, focused woman, with a true sense of realness. Your sincerity marks your character and you are passionate about every aspect of your life. “Laugh as much as you breathe and love as long as you live” and now you have one more incredible man to love – Henry. Oh and by the way, how many women after 6 to 8 weeks gets back to their “skinny clothes” and looks as good as you.- remember that as well.
You took the words right out of my mouth, seriously. Every single word. Tx for sharing!
You are definitely not alone. This was me with my first-born – I recall the moment in the car on the way to see a lactation consultant with crying Isla in the back looking at my husband and saying “I’m ok if this is the only child we have”. Fast forward and I now have a second daughter (and for some reason it seems to be easier second time around). Thank you for always being able to put into words what so many of us are feeling!
So happy for you. He is so cute
Kisses from http://poshnessary.com ❤
Henry is such a beautiful little boy! Thanks for sharing your journey thus far………I have great respect for you and for all moms for your love and sacrifice. Blessings to you and your family in 2016!
Thank you so much for the honest post! I’ve been following your blog for some time now and am so happy for you. While I’m pretty far away from having a baby (25, single, full-time job, and part-time MBA), I appreciate you sharing how you finally took a step back from doing it all. Again, a huge congratulations to you.
So thrilled for you all he is SUCH a cutie please keep posting pics of him on IG who could ever tire of seeing him in all his darling duds!?! One piece of advice I like to give new mommies is this:
It’s true that time flies with these little ones but it’s ok to not love and embrace every moment because truly not every moment is awesome and beautiful in motherhood. Instead love and embrace those good moments which typically outnumber and outweigh the hard ones anyways.
You’ve crossed over, welcome to the club!
Erin, I can only echo what so many others have said — this was surely one of your most beautiful posts! I’m thrilled to see you finding your groove as a new mom, and I never doubted you would.
Looking forward to hearing Andrew’s thoughts on parenthood, too. And thank you for sharing more photos of baby Henry — he is a handsome little fellow! Much love to your sweet family.
You are doing great. You wait – there is definitely somethin about mommies and sons….
Too bad Henry does not have a say in all of this .
You are on the journey! Nursing is hard to get the hang of the first time, but it is soooooooo worth it. I was on my own (well, with my husband) in Argentina the first time, but I stuck it out, and I am so glad I did. Nursing was the best decision I made for my kids’ health besides later, getting their tonsils out. Those two decisions have kept my kids really healthy.
I so enjoy your blog and seeing your beautiful family.
He is so sweet! I remember those days of getting to know your baby and how everything just feels so surreal. Things will come together over time and then a new stage will throw you a loop lol. That’s motherhood! I almost broke down crying in Target yesterday buying my thirteen year old zit cream. You just never know what is going to be tough!
My husband and I are 60, every time we see a newborn in the grocery store my husband says I am so glad that is not us! We spoil our 4 year old grandson to death!
My husband and I are 60, every time we see a newborn in the grocery store my husband says I am so glad that is not us!
pour yourself a big glass of wine and relax, the toughest day back is hopefully over!! you’ve got this – it’s all just one big- blurry-happy- crazy-sometimes crying – rarely sleeping-dance now:-) just follow your gut all the time –
Just checked the blog, and I’d guess that you’re about halfway through your day now – hope the first day back is treating you well!
Congrats and welcome back to work! You’re 100% not alone — there were times my newborn daughter felt like a strange little alien to me. I couldn’t believe they let me take her home from the hospital. It’s the hormones! And the sleep deprivation. Enjoy the chance to feel like your old self again… Eventually career and motherhood start to not feel like two separate parts of your life–just a big chaotic mashup of fun, love, and hard work.
Beautifully written!! So proud of you!! Although you will now always be a mom, you were and are Erin first. Takes a bit to remember that! xoxo
The part about crying when they are crying and asking your husband who does this again is spot on. Biggest life change, that you are no where near prepared for. Thank you for your honesty! It took me a long time to realize I was not alone with these feelings. And as I am preparing for the second to come it is comforting to hear this.
Thanks so much for sharing your experience! My daughter is 9 months old, and I really really wish somebody had told me how much the first two weeks would suck. They are really hard for everyone.
Enjoy your first day back!
What a great post! And so happy for you! I was soooooo career minded and didn’t even think I would get married and then had some medical issues after I got married and was already 32!! ( I laugh at that age now!) and the doctors told me if I wanted to have a baby I better hurry up because it would be hard enough! HA! Is that I thought – the more someone tells me I HAVE to do something – the less I want to do it! LOL! Being a mother is the hardest job you will ever have and DO NOT let anyone ever make you feel guilty for wanting to work. When I had just had a my first son (only have two) one of my co-workers told me that believe it or not “they don’t need you as much now – they will need you when they are older”. I thought she was nuts because how could such a little thing not need ME! Well she is SOOOOO right – they are now 13 and 15 and need me more now than ever before. The world is nutso and Ihave two completely different children – one is into sports and school and computers and the other does crew, robotics and cello! It was hard and wonderful at the same time to let them decide who they wanted to be and where their passion and motivation was- but you will be fine with this. My younger one just started crew and I literally told him to pick a sport because it was healthy for him and I didn’t care if it was dance or cheerleading! I would be there cheering him on! You sound like you are off to a wonderful start and one thing about the breastfeeding – I had a horrible time and literally told my husband to get my first son “off me” before I went nuts! Felt horrible about myself but thought I was going nuts! Turned out I was making enough milk and he was hungry! So over to bottles and then went back AGAIN and tried with second one too! Like I got new boobs since I had the first one! LOL! He was starving and screaming too! Wonder why? Lol! SO then my husband said the nicest thing he ever said to me – and I remember it like it was yesterday “I haven’t breast fed either of them and they are bonded with me!” (Husband has hairy chest so this made bust out laughing! And. Was much needed at the time). So hang in there and remember this time will go so fast and I think God gives you a certain amount of time at every stage and then moves on to the next and you will be wonderful and ready:)
Oh and one last thing – it is scientifically proven that babies sometimes look the opposite of the mother and more like the dad to promote bonding for the men. Doesn’t seem fair right after being pregnant for so long!:) and I told my husband “men need help with everything:)”
Hang in there and keep blogging! I am 48 now and feel old but you make me feel young and hip!
Longtime reader and big fan.
Please keep your motherhood posts coming– they are a bit of a lifeline for me .
I’m a few months behind you. Did IVF and expecting our first baby in about a week.
I’ve loved reading about your journey to becoming a mom, as I know if can be a road riddled with such lows and highs. Your honest take on this huge life transition is so refreshing to me and helps to lighten any feelings of worry and anxiety I’ve been experiencing.
Thank you so much!!
What a lovely post. Congratulations again, Erin, and a very happy and healthy 2016 to all of you! Thanks for continuing this great blog!
Hi Erin, as always I loved your honesty!
Even on a subject that can be so awkward to talk about… I have never heard of any new mum expressing any concern about a lack of immediate bond with their newborns . All my friends just say that it really is like love at first sight. Although I’m a bit more worried that it may not be the case once it happens to me, sometime in the next 6 months. My whole family is overwhelmed by the fact that I will have a baby some time soon, and I’m just secretly worried and anxious to whether I will be a good mum! Also, I can’t believe that you are going back to work (part-time) already! You are so brave! I can only wish you well and hope you keep sharing your views on anything and everything (love them!) Lots of love xx
Erin this is so real, honest and beautiful. Thank you for sharing . I would love it if Andrew would share from his perspective. Father’s have the task of becoming a parent as well as seeing their wife change right before their eyes…some days for the better and some not so much!
Happy New Year to your sweet family!
He’s actually working on a post now! Really want him to share his perspective for sure!
Congrats, Erin! You made it thru the first 8 weeks and you and Henry are still alive! ;) Thanks for sharing your honesty. I was very much the same exact way with my first. I had milk OVER production (didn’t realize that could even happen with my non-existent chest) and one time was sitting in his room getting ready to nurse and milk was spraying across the room and in his face and we were both wet, sticky messes. I cried a lot, but mostly from all the feelings. Lots of realizations hit and nothing prepares you. But just know that each little thing passes so quickly and it always gets better! All the best to you and sweet Henry!
Love your honesty–authentic as always. (And I howled with laughter about the UPS comment. I used to joke that every delivery person in Manhattan had seen me topless! And…I didn’t care!) Sending love as you ease back in to work. It gets easier. XO
What a wonderful post; so glad that future/soon-to-be moms will get to read this and file it away for future reference!
My early days of mom-dom/returning to the design world a few years ago were pretty similar; I remember running to the office restroom 3-4 times on my first day because I was either a.) missing my son too much to hold it together or b.) feeling insanely guilty because I caught myself *not* missing him for a moment because I was enjoying being back so much. Ugh.
One thing that really helped me was the book Becoming a Calm Mom. I wouldn’t say that it made me “calm” (not really part of my lexicon) but it did put quite a bit into perspective and helped me guide my own though processes in a much more healthy way.
Good luck on your first day back!
Congratulations! I’ve been through the exact same thing when my baby was born (down to the mastitis and all). I laughed with the “who does this more than once?” comment…those were my thoughts too :) You’re not alone! My baby is 16 months now and although he’s a looott of work now, I wouldn’t have it any other way. He’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. And despite everything, am already thinking about another one (crazy, right?). Good luck and enjoy motherhood!
I’ve been following your blog for years now, but this is my first time to write. I wanted to say thank you for this post! I also just became a new mom- my son (Henry too!) was born on 11/15. I also went through mastitis and experienced many of the feelings you described over the past seven weeks. Your honesty is so refreshing and it made me feel so much better knowing I wasn’t the only one thinking those thoughts. So thank you again and best wishes for your family and Henry in 2016!
It took me years to admit I did not love the baby stage. I now say, “I have loved every stage , but I don’t want to go back to any of them.” I did not feel that bond either, and like you, we had worked so hard to have them. I can honestly say that as Henry becomes “Henry” that bond will become unbreakable. It is all the trials , tribulations, memories, and success that creates that bond. You are in for an awesome ride! I get teared up just thinking about it!
Phew!!! Have a wonderful day! It is,and will always be , an amazing journey! You are rocking it!!
This makes me so happy for you. I’ve been reading for so long and it is so cool having seen you go through the “not sure about being a mom” phase, to trying really hard for it, and having it actually happen for you. Thanks for allowing us to join you on the journey. I’ve always loved reading your blog and very happy for you.
You’ll probably have mixed emotions many times over the next few years. Accept right now your child will humiliate you in public with trantrums …. yes, that whiny brat in the future will be yours. And feel the bond of sisterhood with moms wearing their bedroom slippers and pushing carts with kids in pjs on an emergency run to the grocery store. And pride, when your baby learns to walk, talk, read, run, ride a bike, play soccer, color outside the lines and frost christmas cookies with you.
You’re a mommy now. For real.
Your therapist was right! You are totally normal and the flux in your emotions is definitely not weird. It was only when I had a child (and admittedly when that child turned 3), that I realized I can’t do it all, and I’m totally okay with that (although I think she turned 4 when I accepted this last part). Please learn that lesson faster than I did??? Henry will love you no matter how many blog posts you write – and we will hang out here, until your life settles into your new normal.
Beautiful & honest. Good luck heading back to work & best wishes!
Thank you for such an honest post. I wished I read this back when I first became a mom so I did not feel so alone. I was a hot mess and motherhood threw me for a big loop. The moment my son was born they put this crying, screaming rather dirty baby on my chest and I remember thinking….babies come with yellow hair. Everyone was looking at me for a reaction. I though, oh no, I need to do something this was my big mom moment. I looked at my son and said, “I know, I know, I would be crying too if someone just pulled me out of a vagina.” Yes those were my first words to my first child as mom. Everyone in the room laughed including my husband.
You are so not alone in your feelings of being overwhlemed and insecure as you begin define yourself as a mom. Thanks for sharing and being so honest. Good luck today.
I laughed out loud at this. I am sure this kind of a reaction is way more common than you thought at the time. I am sure it was also a nice relief to the people in the room to have a good laugh after quite a stressful time :)
Don’t worry- when Henry was coming out the doctor said “look! Here he is!” And I looked and turned my head and went “no!!! He looks like a slimy octopus!” Really killing it at motherhood from the get go :)
What a beautifully heartfelt post. Welcome to Mommy-hood, you are now an official member of the club and there is no better club to be a member of. Henry is precious and what a blessed little boy to have YOU for his Mommy. Congratulations,
Thanks so much for sharing Erin. We (the internet) are so happy for you and Andrew and have been cheering you on every step of the way. You are both so amazing to be sharing your life and inspiring us with your words Though this journey of motherhood is still quite a ways down the road for me, I’ll always remember having read your story and be encouraged by everything to come. Keep just being you, I’m know you’re doing just fine :).
Thanks so much for sharing Erin. We (the internet) are so happy for you and Andrew and have been cheering you on every step of the way. You are both so amazing to be sharing your life and inspiring us with your words. Though this journey of motherhood is still quite a ways down the road for me, I’ll always remember having read your story and be encouraged by everything to come. Keep just being you, I know you’re doing just fine :).
Just beautiful! So happy for you!
Erin, I’ve been so excited to see how you’re feeling. Your last few sentences just put me in tears. Perhaps that is why Motherhood is such a blessing: who knew selflessness could be so gratifying? So happy for you! Thank you for sharing your experiences with all of us who’ve come to “know” and love you!