3 Ways Having a Baby Changed my Life (That You May Relate To)
Life with a new baby is all about changes. Here are three major ones and how I navigate them.
It was no surprise to my spouse and me that having a baby really does change everything. This was the number one thing that everyone told me when I was pregnant, and we had seen it happen to other new parents. We are just finishing up month five with our new addition and it’s been a roller coaster. There are three major ways that my life has changed, which some other parents may relate to.
I was never really a punctual person until I began teaching some years ago. Leaving a room of teenagers hanging at 7 am when class began was not only inconsiderate but eventually a fire-able offense.
It was a science: wake up at 5:30, groan and roll around until 5:45, dress by 6:00, in the car by 6:05, in the drive-through getting an iced coffee and breakfast burrito by 6:15, paid by 6:20(ish), to the school by 6:40, sit in the car and finish eating until 6:45, and unlock the door to the classroom at 6:55. Bell rang at 7, and thus my day began.
With a baby? There is no science. I can guess that she will wake up between 6 and 8a on her own because she does. Usually. I can assume it will take a few minutes to change her, then feed her for another 10 to 15.
Hopefully, she stays calm enough for me to freshen up, have some cereal, and take my vitamins. I manage to put leggings on, and we make it to her appointment with her pediatrician at 10:30a. Which, I may add, I scheduled with her nap schedule in mind.
What would I tell myself if I could go back in time?
Those first few months, if you can help it, don’t have a rigid schedule in your head. Allow for flexibility where you can (I do realize this is hard with multiple children, work, and lack of available caregivers), prioritize the important things, and let the rest go. We needed to make it to the pediatrician’s appointment…but I don’t have to rearrange the living room even though the clutter is making my skin crawl.
As an added bonus: the little one eventually started to make her own schedule! Even though it varies time-to-time.
2. There is no “Off”
Note: This part may not be the same for some mothers, and that’s ok. A lot of it has to do with my situation and my chosen way to parent.
The first month after having my little one is a blur. I cried a lot. We had to triple feed. There was a NICU stay involving a helicopter. Oh, and utter cluelessness regarding pretty much everything. The second and third months evened out some, and the fourth and fifth have started being genuinely fun. (Experienced parents would probably laugh because they know what’s coming soon, I’m sure.)
The most difficult thing for me is that there is no ‘off’ switch. Even when someone else has the baby, mom’s brain is going. My naps are short and light, I hear phantom cries sometimes, and there is always something I feel like I need to do. Previously, I could go out or take a loooong nap, breathe, and reset. It’s how I got through graduate school and how I dealt with the stresses of teaching.
I am still figuring out how to address the lack of ‘off’ time. It may be a decade or more before I get it, I suppose. Until that time, my (relatively short) showers, the one class I teach two nights a week for an hour each, and the occasional walk are the closest I get. It will have to do.
Finding just a little bit of time makes a huge difference.
3. Intellectual and Creative Atrophy
From 2008 to the summer of 2019, I was in university courses. 5 years of undergraduate work, one master, teacher certification while working, and most recently a second masters (at which time, I was working full time and pregnant). In July, I graduated with my MEd and resigned from my full-time job.
In September, I had the baby. By November, I had gotten into a groove and was able to relax a little bit. By December, I was bored out of my wits.
It finally set in that my days went from creative, intellectual work and adult conversations to cooing, crying, and diapers.
My first solution was therapy for post-partum depression. This worked great (and I still use what my therapist introduced to me) until I no longer had insurance and had to stop.
So, what do I do now?
Two things, actually. I teach a technical writing and communication course at the college. It gets me out twice a week, engaging with young adults, and I have to do the work to create a course.
The second thing is new, a gamble. I write. Our finances are rough right now, and we live very rural, so I was researching ways to make money from home. Eventually, I stumbled into the idea of freelance writing.
My website is approaching launch, I’ve gotten some practice through Upwork and Freelancer, and have started personal writing projects. I can’t do it at a full-time pace as I would have in the past, but it’s still a project. And it’s keeping me together mentally.
I encourage moms to find some way to create something: crafting, blogging, baking, doodling, whatever works.
Having a baby brings far more than three changes to someone’s life, but these are the three that I struggle with the most.
For those of you who are parents, what were the most difficult changes you went through? How have you addressed them?