Happy Mother’s Day to the New Moms

By Published On: May 10th, 2024

We’ve been there. We see you. And you’re doing a great job.

Content warning: This article includes mentions of suicide. Please read with caution. 

As a veteran mom of a nearly 5-year-old and a 7-year-old, I’m past the 2 a.m. feedings, clunky infant car seats, and blowout diapers (a parenting milestone worth celebrating). Still, I remember the early days of motherhood with both of my daughters—the sleep deprivation, the postpartum mood disorders (depression with my first, PTSD with my second), the seemingly never-ending string of viruses courtesy of daycare, and the constant self-doubt in my ability to raise my babies. Motherhood, in general, is challenging in so many ways, but that first year (or two … or three) is particularly brutal. 

If you’re in the weeds of early motherhood and reading this, I’m here to tell you you’re doing a great job. It probably feels impossible right now, but no one can love your little one as fiercely as you do, and really, that’s the most important part of being a good mom. And it is for this reason that Pregnancy & Newborn wants to wish you a very happy Mother’s Day. As a gift to all of the new moms, I want to share a few things I’ve learned over the years that I wish someone had told me when I was in your position. 

It’s OK To Feed Your Baby Formula

We’re firm believers in “fed is best” at Pregnancy & Newborn, but I know that you can hear that over and over and still feel so much pressure to breastfeed your baby, and like a failure when it doesn’t work out—but trust me, you’re not. I tried so hard to pump for my first daughter, but I was lucky if I could fill half of a 2.7-ounce bottle on each breast. I hung in there for four weeks, but the majority of her diet was coming from formula anyway, and I was tired of feeling like something was wrong with me every time I pumped, so I stopped trying. When my second daughter was born at 35 weeks, my husband and I decided to go straight to formula once she no longer had a feeding tube because my fragile mental health couldn’t handle the struggle I faced with my first daughter. And you know what? They were both very healthy babies and continue to be healthy today. I have no regrets, and I wish I had listened to people who assured me that “fed is best.” 

Ask for Help If You’re Suffering From a Postpartum Mood Disorder

We know that 85% of moms will experience some mood disturbance after the birth of a baby, but too many of us still struggle to admit that what we’re feeling isn’t OK. When I had my first daughter, I was diagnosed with postpartum depression (PPD). Then, with my second baby, my husband and I were warned that I’d likely experience PPD again, so we were ready with a plan to nip it in the bud. What we didn’t expect was a traumatic birth and a postpartum PTSD diagnosis, which required a whole different level of treatment. The thing that helped the most was my husband coming with me to my first psychiatrist appointment a few days after my daughter was born. She looked him straight in the eyes and told him, “You need to make sure she sleeps. I know that’s hard with a newborn, but if she is sleep-deprived on top of this, she will become suicidal.” That was all he needed to hear. He was permitted to work remotely for an extended period of time to ensure I had time to sleep and go to daily therapy. If I had ignored my situation or shut him out, I genuinely don’t think I’d be here today. So, don’t deny your feelings—ask for help. I promise that with proper treatment, it will get better. 

Social Media Lies

I still need to remind myself of this even 7 years into motherhood. We all love to follow momfluencers and parenting experts on social media, but you have to remember that they never give you the whole picture. That mom in the pristine white kitchen holding her baby on her hip with one hand while she blends a smoothie with the other is just as much of a hot mess as you. Her Instagram post conveniently cut out the high chair covered in dried baby food, the floor covered in puffs, and the pile of the unaesthetic brightly colored plastic toys in the corner. As for the parenting experts, they have tens (or even hundreds) of thousands of followers, so the advice they’re giving you is generalized and imperfect. No two kids are alike, and what works for one family could be a total disaster for another. So, take their advice with a grain of salt and remember that you’re the expert on your baby, not them. 

Set Boundaries With Grandparents

This one took me far too long to learn. Even though you probably feel like you’re drowning and you’ll take all of the family help you can get, when it comes to raising your little one, you no longer answer to your parents (or your in-laws); you get to make the rules. If you know your baby is happier and healthier on a strict schedule and your mom has offered to watch them for an afternoon, write down the schedule and ask her to stick to it. Get as detailed as you’d like so that there are no misunderstandings. Or, if you don’t want your aging dad to drive your baby anywhere, tell him. Will it hurt his feelings? Maybe, but he will get over it, and your baby will be safe. And, if you want to wake up with your little ones in your own home every Christmas morning, then your long-distance in-laws will need to accept that. It is OK to set these kinds of boundaries. You may ruffle some feathers, but ultimately, your parents and in-laws will follow your rules if it means they’ll have access to those sweet grandbaby snuggles. 

You Probably Won’t Enjoy Every Moment

I can pretty much guarantee that there will be a lot of moments where you’ll wonder what you got yourself into, and you’ll reminisce about your pre-baby days and all of the freedom that came with them. It’s not fun to go days without a shower, answer to a tiny dictator in your own home, or clean up another person’s bodily fluids. It can be tough to find your patience when you’re running on 4 hours of sleep and caffeine or when that cute baby fist punches you in the eye for the third time in a day. Yes, you can appreciate what a blessing a baby is, but also whimper because you haven’t had a hot meal in months. Motherhood is a gift, but it is not easy—especially in the baby phase—and don’t believe anyone who tells you differently. 

Finally, I assure you that it will get less challenging. I know that sometimes, picturing your life as it is for even one more day can make you feel completely defeated, but little by little, your baby will become a toddler, then a preschooler, then an elementary student, and then a big kid. With each stage, they’ll become more independent, and their personality will shine in the best possible ways. They’ll still be little dictators, but they’ll also be your buddy. They’ll make you belly laugh every day and give you the tightest, longest, best hugs in the world. 

So for now, since you’re still in the stage where your baby can’t put much of anything into words quite yet, we’ll say it again on their behalf: Happy Mother’s Day, you are a fantastic mom, and thank you for all you do.