I’ll admit it, I’m no better than my princess obsessed 2-year-old daughter. I was glued to the coverage of the royal baby this week. I could not get enough of all the articles, the TV coverage and Twitter has been highly entertaining.
I celebrated the birth of the royal baby and then watched William and Kate graciously make an appearance the next day. Kate looked great but she also didn’t attempt to hide her post baby tummy and rode away in the backseat, next to the baby, like most first time moms do. It made me think back to the first few days after the birth of my own little heir, 9 years ago.
If I had a royal beauty team, my hair might have had the potential to look camera-ready the day after delivery but nothing else about my body or emotions would have. Enter the indignities of giving birth.
I won’t go into the colorful details of my labor (although if you know me at all you know love to hear labor stories) but I remember the first night in the hospital I could not sleep for fear that the perfect little baby sleeping in the salad bin next to me would succumb to SIDS during his first few hours of life. But I was equally upset with the idea of the nurses watching him for me. What kind of mom am I if I actually want my child taken away just after meeting him? What if the nurses don’t watch him well enough?
I had a rough delivery and of course all these thoughts were just the irrational emotions of a woman who had just gone through 14 hours of labor, was exhausted and who’s own body was working hard to heal. But I didn’t realize all that at the time. Possibly because of my own recovery, my milk took 5 days to come in and our little guy had colic, which means a lot of inconsolable crying (by both of us). Suffice it to say my first experience of motherhood felt like trial by fire.
As new parents, I remember driving somewhere with my husband and we just looked at each other and said why doesn’t anyone tell you about this stuff? Well, I have a few guesses.
1 | Baby memories fade quickly. All the sleepless nights make a parent’s memory a little fuzzy, selective memory sets in and viola; all the hard parts are forgotten.
2 | My second thought is that some first nights with an infant are beautiful. And some babies are actually blissful infants who are easily comforted and make their parents feel like instant pros. I know first hand because I have a few friends who had these easy babies and my second son and I had an ideal first night in the hospital. He slept in my arms and would periodically wake to quietly stare into my eyes. We fell in love that first night.
3 | Another possibility why I didn’t hear more of the real details of post birth and infant life is that we mother’s have a little guilt about our first emotions as mothers and we don’t want to admit that we were overwhelmed and didn’t have a clue what we were doing at the start.
My wish for the Duchess of Cambridge, and every new mom, is that they have the blissful baby experience first. But for those who are surprised by the harsh reality of post-pregnancy let me assure you that it is not a reflection on you as a mother. You just got your challenging child first, everyone gets one eventually. These children will bring just as much joy and life to your home as the easy ones.
The best advice I got in the early days of motherhood was from my husband. He likened motherhood to a new job. He reminded me that it always takes several months to learn the ropes and adjust to a new routine. It’s the same with motherhood.
Whether you’re royal or just a commoner like the rest of us, it takes some time to feel confident and comfortable with the enormous new role of motherhood.