Having a baby is the most miraculous, incredible journey. There is truly no way to prepare for it or know what to expect. That moment you meet your baby is life changing Because, not only have you birthed new life, but you will never be the same. And yes, this is all incredibly terrifying.
I can distinctly remember the moment I first felt the grief. The new baby “honeymoon” began to subside and the sleep deprivation was beginning to take a toll. We were sitting on the couch, one week after Willis was born. I had just nursed our beautiful boy to sleep and placed him in his pack-n-play in our living room for a nap. My husband and I nuzzled up on the couch and pressed play on the movie we had queued up.
I heard a rustle, a whimper and then the crying began. My heart sank, exhaustion lurking like a dark cloud. Please just give me one hour to myself I thought. I looked at my husband and the freedom of our pre-parenting lives played out like a movie before me. Late nights drinking wine, laughing and binging on Netflix- show after show… Not a care in the world. No responsibility for a tiny little helpless human. No more, I thought, this is our new reality.
Sadness and grief washed over me, forming a tight knot in my chest. My throat swelled up and a sense of imprisonment came over me. And then the guilt… How can I be feeling this way when we have this beautiful little miracle in front of us? This miracle that I worked so hard to grow inside of me for nine long months… Who I could not wait to meet and love with every part of my soul and show the world to.
My husband saw my tears and held me while I shared my dark inner thoughts. “It’s okay,” he said, “I miss you and me too. But we have this little guy now and he’s pretty amazing. One day at a time.” He validated my feelings and gave me permission to feel them. He got up, picked up the little bundle of love we created together and brought him back to the couch. With his arm around both our little boy and me, we cuddled together and watched the movie. It was different and it would take some getting used to, but soon I wouldn’t be able to imagine a life without this little guy and all the love, joy and sweetness he would bring.
Grieving your past life is a common stepping stone for many new parents. The change that comes with parenthood is no small feat and it is permanent. This can be incredibly overwhelming and can bring a whole range of emotions to the table. Just know that you are not alone and every single one of these emotions are valid and worthy of feeling. As a new parent, you have to say goodbye to a life you once lived in order to fully accept and embrace the new one. It is okay to feel sad, angry, trapped, resentful and just plain tired. Give yourself time and space to feel the feels so that you can truly embrace your new life and love that little one with all of your heart. And if you don’t feel that right away, that is okay too. Give yourself time. Below are some tips I found helpful in grieving my past life and moving forward to embrace my new one.
6 Tips for Grieving Your Past Life and Embracing the New
Communicate with your partner or loved one.
These feelings are big and real and raw. Holding them in will make you feel so alone. Don’t let these thoughts fester in your mind for too long. If you have a partner, talk to them. I’m sure they are feeling similarly and it will help to share this space together. If you’re having trouble talking to your partner, talk with fellow mom friends or a therapist first. Sometimes it’s helpful to air out your thoughts with another trusted person in your life.
Make time for the two of you.
Everyone says this, but it is so important. Having a baby is all consuming and making time to prioritize your relationship will help you both be better parents and enjoy time with your baby even more.
Make time for yourself.
Try to etch out some time each day for yourself. It is hard with a new baby, but even just 20 minutes to take a walk, nap, bath, read, meditate, or do yoga without another little human on top of you is so helpful.
Discuss household/baby duties pre-baby.
Having a plan for keeping up with household chores and taking on parenting duties prior to the babies arrival is key. Once baby comes you will both be sleep deprived and overwhelmed with your new life. It has been so helpful for both my husband and myself to know that certain things will be done and we don’t have to discuss it or fight about it. Everyone has a different way of making things work. Here are a few things that worked for us: while I’m nursing, my husband will make dinner, coffee, etc. He will also do the nighttime diaper changes and bring our son to me in bed. We tackle laundry and household chores together. Communication is key.
Limit social media.
Easier said than done… but honestly social media is such a trigger and being a new parent is such a vulnerable place to be. It can be easy to scroll mindlessly while feeding your baby, but this can also make you feel icky. Believe me I still struggle with this! I have found that reading, meditating, or listening to a podcast or audible instead makes me feel so much better during these times.
Embrace the small magical moments.
There is one thing little babes do better than anyone else. They are truly in the moment. Whether that moment is exploding from a diaper or gazing into your eyes with the most love you have ever felt in your life. The chest to chest tenderness with their warm little bodies and froggy legs balled up against you are just pure magic. Soak it up and let those moments fuel you for the hard ones.
Willis is 8 months now and we have adapted to our new normal. I still have nostalgic moments where I miss the freedom of the past, but I wouldn’t Change it for the world. There are moments when I wonder if I will ever be this happy again in my life and there are moments when I feel like I am going to go completely insane. And That’s okay. I am learning from willy to live in the moment because time is truly flying by and I just don’t want to miss a second of it.