Why being a new mom is the hardest job ever — and how to cope

Brigid P.

“One of the biggest challenges my husband and I faced as new parents was adapting to our new baby-centered lifestyle. Before baby, our favorite pastimes were trying new restaurants for dates, visiting our favorite breweries and going on spur of the moment runs or hikes. Now, we continue to do the things we love, but put more effort into planning. We are pros at packing a diaper bag and planning our activities around our daughter’s daily rhythm. But, most importantly, we’ve tried to remain flexible. Sometimes that means nap time happens in a baby carrier out on the trails or we skip out of a dinner out because our baby isn’t feeling it.”

Pam A.

“Breastfeeding did not come naturally to my daughter or me. I made the mistake of thinking she would be a textbook eater because that’s what my sister’s kids were like and they were the only newborns I had ever met.

“We finally got the hang of breastfeeding, but it was very painful in the beginning and the feeling I was tied to a baby or the breast pump was difficult. Every aspect of my day depended on when I needed to feed the baby or pump. I always envied my husband, who could just go to work while I couldn’t ‘just’ do anything — from what I wore to where I went and how long I was gone. I didn’t feel like I was my own person. In the end you just get used to it. I started supplementing with formula when it just got to be too much and it gave me peace of mind. My baby was being fed and I wasn’t going crazy trying to be a perfect breastfeeding machine.”

Lacey B.

“I was mostly prepared for the physical toll the first year of parenthood took on my body, but I had no idea of the mental and emotional exhaustion raising a newborn would entail. Frequent breakdowns, anxiety, worry, frustration, loss of confidence, memory loss — I suffered from all of it.

“I would have full on breakdowns over my son not sleeping, or not nursing as much or getting a cold. I felt like I was barely hanging on most of the time. I now know that many, many moms’ experiences are similar in the first year. New moms want to be perfect, and that just isn’t possible. I have learned that laundry will wait until tomorrow and that we don’t have to have a homemade meal every night. I have learned to communicate better with my husband, make my health a priority and I’m still learning to ask for help when I can.”

Emily D.

“When our son was born, everything changed for me. I felt that I had lost a lot of my identity by leaving an established career. With all the changes came a lot of unanticipated anxiety and I struggled with coping for much of the first year. While motherhood was amazing and I loved my new family, I spent a lot of time judging myself for making the decision to stay home.

“I worried that people would label me as dependent or that my husband would find me boring. I worried that I would be seen as ‘less than’ next to the working moms who seem to juggle it all. These worries were really a reflection of my own insecurities and I had created them to be much scarier than they actually were. Ultimately, I decided to start an at-home business. I need the confidence that working brings to make me feel whole. I also started on therapy and medication to get on top of my postpartum anxiety. Motherhood is crazy amazing, but it’s also crazy hard. That’s just the truth.”

More: 5 very real lessons motherhood taught me this year

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