The first few days of our baby’s life were a wildly emotional roller coaster. While I was filled with joy to finally meet our beautiful baby girl, I was also completely exhausted from giving birth and felt totally underprepared for breastfeeding.
My milk was not coming in very quickly. She had jaundice and was struggling to latch and gain weight, and I was a complete ball of tears and stress.
The sleeping arrangement we had prepared for our newborn was a sidecar co-sleeper attached to our bed, a gift from my sister who knew how helpful having the baby close at night is when breastfeeding in the beginning.
I had been SO excited about it before she was born, and loved the idea of her being right beside me from the moment we brought her home.
But when the day came to take her home from the hospital, I felt differently. I didn’t want to sleep next to her.
No. I COULDN’T sleep next to her.
The New Mom Anxiety Was Real
I was filled with too much anxiety to physically fall asleep beside her.
Anxiety that she would stop breathing. Anxiety about her jaundice. Anxiety about her losing weight. Anxiety about my ability to take care of all this tiny baby’s needs. Anxiety about feeling so much anxiety because I didn’t prepare for that.
So her first night home I made her Daddy slept beside the co-sleeper so I could attempt to get some rest on the other side of the bed.
This meant him waking up every time she cried and gently handing her to me, helping with diaper changes, and re-swaddling her after every feeding. (I still didn’t know how to swaddle.)
And it made a huge difference.
His presence between us lightened the load I was carrying emotionally. Him being beside her made me somehow feel safer and stronger for her. Maybe because it was a physical reminder that I was not alone in this.
1 John 4:18 says “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”
Through my husband I was reminded of the power of a father’s love. A father’s love for his child; and for me. God’s love is with me always, I am never alone. His love transforms the fear and anxiety in my heart into peace when I share it with him.
The way I shared the burden with my husband back when we were brand new parents.
The reason my husband slept by our baby her first night home isn’t because he was any less tired than I was. It wasn’t because I love everything to be fair and sleeping beside her meant he would surely change diapers, though it did.
It was because I couldn’t bear my anxiety as a new mom alone.
What a Powerful Lesson for an Overachiever
I will never stop being thankful I asked for help, or stop being thankful for my husband for stepping up that night. He’s an amazing Dad and I am so proud of him and the bond he has with our daughter.
See related: 10 Ways to Prepare for Fatherhood
After a night or two of this arrangement I felt ready to sleep beside her and my anxiety began to dissipate in the coming days and weeks as we settled into a new routine as parents. But the lesson I learned about asking for help, especially to my husband, made a huge impact on me as a new mom.
I find it amazing how we relate all too much in this area when I start to hear the stories. So often we struggle and are overwhelmed in the early days of motherhood.
I encourage you to ask for help if you need it. Do you need help? Maybe you just need to be brave enough to ask that question! It will impact your life if you learn how to do this.
And for those brand new mommies, here are a few practical tips on overcoming some of that anxiety and pressure as a new mama that REALLY helped me!
Note: According to SeePPD postpartum depression affects approximately 1 in 5 women. While some anxiety and moodiness are normal along with the “baby blues” a lot of women experience the first few weeks following the birth of their baby, if you continue to face these symptoms please speak with your doctor. -SeePPD
1. Getting off Facebook
Facebook recognizes what is happening in your life and shows you relevant content designed to get you to click on it. AKA, when you become a mom your Facebook feed will be bombarded with not only ads, but horror stories of babies dying and products you need or your baby will be in danger etc., etc.
If you like to spend time on Facebook, that’s okay. I learned another thing I could do is tap the settings button on these particular types of ads and hit the “hide ad” button which marks the content as irrelevant to you and will stop you from seeing as many of these types of ads.
For me, once I recognized this was happening it really helped me from getting sucked down a trail of negativity when I went online and actually had a huge impact on reducing some of the anxiety I was feeling.
2. Don’t Underestimate Your Partner
My husband was a rockstar the first week of Hazel’s life, and I honestly depended on him way more than I thought was going to. But I am so thankful and it challenged me in the best way to see how capable and tender he was with her from the beginning.
I love that our children will always know Daddy was the “master swaddler” in our home.
Ladies, don’t underestimate your husbands. ALLOW them to be involved and be present from the beginning, even when it is a challenge to share the control. You need the help and they need the room to bond with your baby.
And if they need you to patiently teach them some things, great! Be patient and don’t make a big deal out of small things like when they forget to put a diaper on under the pajamas and you get peed on.
I still have to work on this sometimes but it’s really important!
3. Give it to God
I think my ability to let my fear and anxiety go to God was probably the biggest factor in working through my emotions as a new parent.
As a Christ follower, I am always going to strive to do the best I can by my children, but at the end of the day, I still have to make the choice to trust in God or not. To trust and believe that He is good. To entrust my children’s lives to him. To believe that his love is perfect and let it cast out my fear.
This is a frequent process for me but reminding my heart that I am not God and not in control actually ends up reversing the effect of anxiety on my heart and replaces it with peace.
I think it’s a great reminder to hold onto when you become a parent. So don’t you ever bear that burden alone.