I think it is helpful to examine your expectations. I was talking with some amazing ladies the other night and it was wonderful to hear that I was not the only one who had unreasonable expectations of what mothering would actually be like. I had plenty of “on the job” training from my many years of babysitting and being around children. I felt confident and comfortable around babies and children. So my expectation was that I would go on living my life, just as I had before, only now I would have a cute baby to tag along with me.
I forgot to factor in something crucial – reality! Having a newborn is very different from babysitting a six month old for a few hours. The reality of having a newborn that relies on you for everything is amazing and also overwhelming at times. There are a lot of new things and situations you are thrown into and you may or may not be prepared. Not to mention new parents are not typically eating, sleeping and functioning at their best.
So when you are preparing for a new baby, try to consider what it was like when you started a new job. Were you overwhelmed? Did you feel behind or need someone else to train you to be more efficient? Did watching others help you become more competent yourself? The best part of this comparison is that all of us have at one time mastered a job and become experts ourselves. You can become a mothering expert too.
I highly suggest that you plan ahead of time to surround yourself with people you love and trust. It is a bonus if those people are also experienced parents themselves. Try to line up a list of “mentors” in different aspects of parenting. For example, do you plan to breastfeed? You can fiind a breastfeeding mentor or mentors at a Le Leche League meeting. If you can attend meetings before you deliver, even better! When you see nursing moms in action, you get a more clear picture of what it might be like for you. Finding a mentor is applicable to several situations. Are you going back to work in six weeks? Are you making the transition to stay at home? Are you bottle feeding? Are you cloth diapering? Etc. Find and pay close attention to people who have traveled the road before you. You can learn a lot from them, take what you like and leave what you don’t as you determine your own parenting strategies.
Finding mentors might take you to new places. You may be uncomfortable attending a meeting for the first time. I remember feeling very nervous the first time I went to a meeting on a new job, but as with anything it gets better the more you put yourself out there.
Now here is where I want to plug what I love. I am a Postpartum Doula and we are uniquely skilled to support you through early parenting. There are PP Doulas who focus on certain areas, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, baby-wearing, etc. If you interview a few doulas before your baby is born you will be able to find someone who is a good fit for your family. Planning ahead of time for support is an incredible gift you can give to your tired, overwhelmed new parent self. Don’t forget that most doulas offer gift certificates as well. If you are planning to host or attend a baby shower, shower the mother-to-be with the gift of support.
I wish you the best of luck at your new job! Mothering is one of the toughest jobs there are but also has the best rewards.