What it Feels like to be a New Mom.

It's been 31 days since we brought Thomas home from the hospital.
31 days since we walked through the front door and our entire world felt different.
Louder. Stinkier. Harder.
We've been more tired than we've ever been for longer than we've ever been.
He's taken over our whole lives and every second of every day revolves 
around this tiny human being we first met 31 short days ago. 
Parenthood, in so many ways, has completely kicked our butts.
I'd love to know if anyone has ever become a parent for the first time and thought, "Oh man, this parenting gig is so much easier than I thought it would be!"

And babies are not new to me. 
I'm the second oldest of eight kids so I've already changed more diapers than I can count.
And most of my adult life has been spent nanny-ing little ones to put myself through school. 
I think all this baby experience had me naively believing I was impervious 
to the stress and toll of new motherhood.
I am now realizing how thoroughly I have underestimated new moms in the past.

It's not like nobody tells you it's going to be hard. 
Everybody tells you it's going to be hard. 
Everyone tells you it will change your whole life. 
Pretty much everyone who knew we were adopting would happily 
warn us that our lives would never be the same again. 
"Sleep now", they told us. "Enjoy your freedom", they said. "Prepare yourselves because everything is about to get really different" they repeatedly warned.
But nobody tells you what all that different feels like. 
I think it's a hard kind of change to describe. 

But quite honestly, being a new mom feels like culture shock. 
Moving to a foreign country is the only thing I've experienced that's feels even remotely similar.
Of course you're thrilled and excited to be there, and riding on pure
adrenaline through a lot of the initial experience.
But it's always an adjustment, and that adjustment can be really tough. 
Everything is new and unfamiliar and foreign. 
And that's coupled with the exhaustion of jet lag.
(Which feels almost exactly like new-mom exhaustion.) 
And with being isolated far away from family and friends. 
(A newborn baby can isolate you in an very similar way.)
And with having to resolve unrealistic expectations about it all. 
(Because trust me, no matter how prepared or sensible you thought you were being about the whole thing, parenthood or relocation, there are always unrealistic expectations to contend with.) 
The decision has already been made.
It's final and there’s no going back now.
Not that you would, but the finality and permanence of the commitment plays a pretty big part in 
why, at times, it feels so entirely overwhelming.
Now all you can do is buckle down and ride it out, knowing it's not always going to feel this way.
Knowing, eventually, everything that initially seems so strange and unusual 
will one day feel really very normal and comfortable.

Just recognizing that has often helped propel me through the early 
and most difficult part of adjusting to a new culture.  
And for me, the beginning of this acclimation process in a foreign country always has me vacillating irresolutely between the euphoria of the honeymoon phase 
and the overwhelming anxiety of the disorientation phase.
Motherhood, I have found, is the exact same way. 
At least it is for me. 

So, here I am, 31 days in. 
And like every mother I've ever known, it's harder than I thought it would be.
But in a lot of ways, it's much better too.
Like no matter how sleep deprived I am, there are still times when he is 
peacefully napping and I have to forcibly restrain myself from waking him up. 
 Just because I desperately want to hold him, and squeeze him, 
and gently kiss his soft little neck over and over again, and simply because I miss him. 
At the end of the day there isn't much I wouldn't do, no matter how hard, to have our little guy here with us, sleeping in our bed, waking us up at all hours, and basically completing our little family. 
I mean just look at this adorably funny little nub! 

I'd love to hear, what did becoming a mom feel like for you? 
And how would you describe it to a soon-to-be first-time mother?


  1. Leah, I am so excited for you! I totally understand what you're going through. It was quite a shell shocker for us when we adopted for the first time (9 1/2 years ago). From the day we found out we were going to be parents to the day she was born was 5 days. It was quite the sudden life change and no matter how much baby stuff I had put aside to feel "prepared", emotionally, and physically we were not. Going from working full-time one day, to staying home and being a new mom was quite the shell shocker for myself, but it was also a blessing. Again Congratulations ~ Erin

  2. My first was HELL. I experienced extreme post pardom. But life get easier and they get a little more fun everyday. My 2nd was hard but wonderful. It was a much easier transition for me. It is the best of times and the worst of times! Love you! :)

  3. I think you know a lot of my back history. Really, all I ever wanted to be was a mom so I thought that desire would somehow make it easier. It did not. I battled with postpartum depression and thought I would never feel like Dalton and I would bond. It was a tough situation. I love my baby boy and am so grateful that I experienced that storm in life because I feel like I have more compassion for people that are those same experiences. :) Love you!

  4. wow. what a beautiful post. I'm so happy for you.

  5. Like you wrote...motherhood is complex. I remember being so tired, I couldn't help but cry sometimes. However, nothing felt more amazing that snuggling my newborn. I don't think anything can "prepare" you for motherhood. As with any big change, it will take time to adjust. But within that time a love you didn't know you could possess will continue to grow. :)

  6. oh, leah!! what a beautiful writer and photographer you are. i am absolutely euphoric to see pics of your sweet babe! he is absolute perfection!! motherhood kicks my bootie every day, but every day is the best day ever! maybe you guys need a play date in san diego??? come visit us!! xoxoxo

  7. Oh boy, this rings true! I have found that I just keep traveling thru foreign countries... some destinations take me completely by surprise! ..As soon as I have started getting used to one foreign land another country is on the horizon keeping me constantly feeling out of sorts and a tad off balance! Enjoy this sweet land of childhood... You and Ryan are doing such a great job and are wonderful parents!!

  8. Congratulations! So excited for your sweet and adorable little boy! For me every new stage of motherhood as my kids grow throws me a curve ball...just when I start to feel comfortable a new challenge comes along. At the same time I feel like there is nothing on earth that could match the joy that I find in being a mom, it's those little moments that you described that mean everything!

  9. Congratulations! (A bit late...sorry!) He is beautiful, and you are too. There is something that all of those sleepless hours and tears do to a new mom. They make you beautiful in a way that you never imagined! What an exciting new adventure!


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