“Wait…What Just Happened?”Parenting and the Hard Stuff that No One Talks About

Childbirth and becoming a parent can be a miraculous experience. It is often long awaited, something we may dream about since being kids ourselves. When we pee on the stick and see those exciting results, we can become over joyed and excited. Throughout pregnancy we have people in our lives checking in with us, we have a lot of doctor’s appointments, showers, parties, gifts, etc. Then one day we go from not being parents to being parents and that’s where it begins.

I often hear from others, “no one talks about this stuff”, when referring to life after giving birth or welcoming a newborn to the family. What is the “stuff” no one talks about? The HARD STUFF. All of a sudden, the attention and care shifts from the mom to the baby. It’s the baby that has all the support, the gifts, the visitors, the appointments. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of support for the parents during this transition. You are sent home from the hospital in hopes everything will go well. No one talks about how difficult breastfeeding can be, the guilt you experience when you are unable to breastfeed, the crying spells from the lack of sleep and hormones, the changes on your body, the challenges you and your partner will experience due to adding a tiny human to the family. No one talks about the massive amounts of anxiety you will have daily just trying to make sure you’re doing things the “right” way. A lot of people are aware of postpartum depression. However, not many talk about the postpartum anxiety, the massive amounts of researching everything online, the fear that you will accidentally hurt your new baby, and so on. No one talks about your identity completely shifting once you become a parent. Often times people are in tears as they reach parent burnout and have forgotten who they are outside of being a mom or a dad. And don’t even get me started on the “mom guilt”. Mom guilt is guilt on steroids and it often prevents us from engaging in self-care, setting boundaries, communicating our needs, taking care of ourselves, going out of the house without the baby, and so on. Society has created the perfect storm for women to experience high levels of mom guilt as they try to navigate parenting. And who checks in on the dads? Oftentimes, no one. Dads are often left out about their experience through the transition to parenting and the dynamic changes at home. Often times dad’s may feel helpless as they do not feel equipped to handle their wife’s burn out, crying spells, exhaustion. While our human brains naturally compare, comparison is another area that negatively impacts pregnancy and parenting. We often compare with what we see around us with friends/family, on social media, and when we are out running around. We judge ourselves for “not being good enough” if we can’t give our babies everything the other babies have. We compare ourselves when our babies aren’t sleeping and we hear the other moms bragging about how well their babies are sleeping. We compare ourselves when we see other moms more “prepared” or other families having all the best baby products while we are living paycheck to paycheck. We hear stories about other parents focusing in certain areas or researching certain things relating to their kid and often ask ourselves, “should I be doing the same thing?” or “am I a bad parent because I am not doing that?” Unhealthy comparison is one of the most toxic activities we can engage in. When we compare, we compare how we feel on the inside to how others present on the outside. We often forget how much others hide inside. As parents, we all need to give ourselves more compassion and understanding. We need to ensure we are engaging in self-care as we won’t be the best versions of ourselves without it. We need to talk more about the “hard stuff” in order to feel less lonely, feel more supported, feel more connected with each other throughout the challenges of parenting. So what do we do now?
  1. We Communicate. I can’t stress that enough. Communicate to your partner, your supports, your doctor about how you are feeling and what you need
  2. We do therapy. Both individual and couple’s therapy can be extremely beneficial during this transition. Book some time for yourself to process your emotions and the stressors; Book time for you and your partner to explore these new roles as parents and ways to stay close during challenging times.  You can schedule a session today at www.lovestorytherapy.com
  3. We build our support network. There are tons of online and in-person support groups for parents. Go outside your comfort zone and talk with parents of other kiddos at parks, museums, etc. Meet new parents and plan play dates
  4. Self-Care!! Self-care is crucial as parents. We all need that time to recharge and feel like ourselves again. Make sure to schedule it in and communicate with your supports when you need some time for yourself.
  5. Breathe 😊
Written By: Penelope Hatter, LMFT   Click below to schedule a session or consult with Penelope! https://lovestorytherapy.clientsecure.me/