8 Unexpected Lessons I Learned in The First Year of Motherhood

The day you have your firstborn is also the day you will give birth to a new you.

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

The moment I found out I was pregnant I was absolutely terrified.

While my partner and I had discussed kids and were mostly open to the idea years down the line — we were absolutely not ready to be parents at least not in any traditional sense.

But it happened. I got pregnant and while it was a surprise I wasn’t that surprised.

I had a dream weeks prior that I was pregnant and I couldn’t shake the feeling. It followed me around like a cloudy day.

I heard this inner voice tell me, “You need to take care of yourself & your baby.”

The day my period was expected to arrive I waited until 7 p.m. that night and then ran to the store without telling a soul I was secretly buying a pregnancy test.

My body trembled and my heart raced faster than a racehorse as I peed on the stick.

Minutes later, two lines appeared. One line was so faint I took two more tests to confirm. (I feel like a lot of women do this.)

My life changed within a matter of seconds.

Yes, I could get an abortion and go back to my life but I would never be the same. I knew I’d live with deep regret and grief.

My partner and I had some long discussions and even went to my therapist for guidance on making a wise and educated choice about becoming parents.

I arrived much more quickly than him at the idea of becoming a mom and even considered what it would be like to be a single mom.

After our meeting with my therapist we cried, and he turned to me and said, “I couldn’t imagine anyone better to have a child with than you.”

And that was it.

7 months later our son was born and our lives literally changed forever.

These are the lessons I’ve learned from this beautiful miraculous journey of the first year of motherhood.

You define the rules.

There is so MUCH information out there on what you should do & shouldn’t do for your baby.

Just like clothes you find your style of parenting through practice. You make up your own rules of what works for you and your baby rather than what is imposed such as sleep training or breastfeeding.

Don’t feel guilty if you aren’t following the prescribed formula of success.

Breast isn’t best.

Breastfeeding is highly encouraged even before your baby is born. But the truth is a lot of moms get frustrated or struggle with breastfeeding.
Some even choose to not breastfeed.

While there is scientific research to show the benefits of breastfeeding there is a lot of pressure on moms to provide this resource for the baby. It isn’t always best if it’s costing the mother’s health or even possibly the baby’s.

You don’t have to if you can’t or simply don’t want to.

Self-care is defining what the new you needs now.

Massages and baths and getting your hair/nails done is great — but that is one small act of self-care.

Moms need more than physical acts of self-care. We get to define this new version of us needs.

Ask a friend for help around the house or to keep an eye on your little one while you go to the bathroom.

Ask for a consistent day a week to sleep in or to go out to a class around other adults.

Ask for help. And don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask.

You will go through a huge identity shift.

The biggest lesson for me this year in motherhood is the identity shift I experienced.

I went from a single woman to in a relationship to a mom in a very short period of time. It was jolting. I wasn’t prepared for just how much of a mental shift it would be.

I was and am still learning about this new woman I am becoming. Many of us will go through this.

Be patient and easy with yourself. It is a delicate process.

You may not have a desire for sex.

So many of us mamas feel this — a lack of sexual drive.

For me it is just starting to come back.

But for nearly an entire year I could have care less about sex. Being a mom consumes every fiber of my being so even if I was in the mood it wouldn’t take much for me to snap out of it.

Sex is different for everyone the first year. Don’t compare yourself to your girlfriends. Just know where you are at and if you aren’t at peace with that, get support.

You may have a career shift.

Some mamas I talk to have experienced a huge shift in direction with work after having their babies.

They crave more freedom and flexibility to be with their little ones.

I mean it makes sense, right?

So if you have a baby just know you may not have the same career goals as you did before. I know for me I am still kind of figuring out my next steps with career but motherhood has also brought me closer to my first love — writing.

Everybody has a different timeline with work. You may go back and be fine. Or you may never go back if you are that lucky.

Motherhood is surprising like that.

You may miss your old life.

Once in a while you might miss your old life pre-baby.

You might even miss the old you because at least that version of you is familiar. Becoming a mom is walking an unknown territory and you literally are creating the path with each step.

It’s kinda insane but in the most profound and transformative way.

It’s okay to miss your old life or to miss the old you sometimes and that part of you can still exist within the house of the new you. There is space for both.

Connect to community.

Motherhood instantly gives you access to a community of other mamas and their little ones. There are so many groups, classes and events available to support mothers.

Find a community, a yoga studio, a library where you can go and share in your experience. It has helped me feel less alone because sometimes it can feel pretty lonely as a stay-at-home mompreneur.

Community gives us access to resources and tools not just for us but for our babes.

Becoming a mom is a personal awakening to a new life and a version of you that ultimately is the world for one person — your little one.

If anything that in itself is a miracle and one of the best gifts we can have and ever receive.

Self-help & mental health writer. Can't do small talk. Mama. Yogi. Coffee lover. Nature explorer. Get my free meditation mini-course here: www.emilystroia.com

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