When Does It Get Better?

Having a baby causes life to change so dramatically it’s easy to wonder when or if balance will ever find its way back into your life. In an earlier post, It Gets Better, I touch on my erratic emotions and struggles I faced upon my introduction to motherhood. The story ends with a promise, one that was relayed to me many times that I used to cling to like a life preserver, “it really does get better… it just takes a little time.”

This promise, while encouraging, can be a bit vague to a new mom who is wondering when she will see the light at the end of the tunnel after this life altering event. How much time is “a little time” exactly? What is the “normal” time-frame for things to start making sense again? Unfortunately, there is no way to assign a definite end date to the various battles a new mom faces. The key is to know and accept that struggles are an inevitable part of becoming a new mommy. There simply is no standard on how long it takes to start feeling “back to normal”.

Essentially, feeling “back to normal” is out of the question after having a baby! Babies change our lives so considerably that it becomes necessary to establish a new “normal”. Comparing our lives “post-baby” to what they were “pre-baby” is like comparing a bear to an ostrich. There simply is no comparison! Finding your new normal takes some time. You have to get to know yourself again… who you are now as a mommy and figure out how to integrate your new baby into your new life… and babies certainly don’t come with instructions!

After I had my daughter someone said to me, “It’s tough in the beginning… it takes a few weeks to start to feel better.” While very encouraging, I was so desperate to feel normal again, I made the mistake of clinging to these words literally, believing her when she said “a few weeks” as in “three weeks is the standard for when new moms start feeling better and life starts making sense again!”

When the much anticipated day arrived and my daughter was three weeks old I thought – OK, this is it! I am going to start getting the hang of this now! Unfortunately, as the third week came to an end and the fourth week began, I didn’t notice much of a difference. In fact, I was starting to feel worse!! What was wrong with me that I wasn’t falling with in that magical “three weeks to feeling better” period? I was still painfully sleep deprived, still fighting to establish a sleeping and eating schedule (for both of us!), my body was still recovering from labor and delivery, and I still wasn’t able to decipher my baby’s cries as quickly as I would have liked! I was a mess!

I realize now that three weeks was never meant to be taken quite so literally, but more as a general, “It takes a while to get in the swing of things”. It was not a promise to a definite end date to my struggles as a new mom! Growing accustomed to life after baby is a process. You just have to be patient with yourself. You will start to feel better and more confident at your own pace, based on your own unique situation. My advice - don’t worry about how long it takes to adjust in the beginning! The most important thing is that you and your baby are building a strong, beautiful bond that will last a lifetime!