As an introverted new mom, it’s OK if you feel “touched out” or just spent the day overthinking about what diaper bag to get.
When you become a new mom, you’re met with a lot of expectations. “Society” seems to know perfectly how you should handle your baby, and for every great piece of advice, someone else expects the exact opposite.
“Get the baby used to bottles so you can go out with your girlfriends sometimes,” says the extrovert, meaning well. “Don’t push yourself to go out too soon,” says my mother, knowing me.
So, in the end, there’s still only you and your partner (and your mother and mother-in-law; it’s inevitable) to decide how to actually handle your baby.
But, those voices stick. They make one big mesh of opinions in your head, and then there’s your Jiminy Cricket and your gut feeling and your mom guilt (yes, welcome to motherhood) who have expectations, too.
So, as an introverted mom, let me confess some of my deepest, darkest secrets.
6 Real Confessions of an Introverted New Mom
1. I feel “touched out,” and unlike a social situation, I can’t just go home to recharge alone.
Babies are clingy (figuratively and metaphorically). They should be. It’s natural, it’s safe, and it’s good for their development. But man, it’s also sweaty, exhausting, and just too much sometimes.
Just like your introvert social battery can run out at a certain moment, you can start to feel “touched out,” too: sooo much touching. It’s a similar feeling, but unfortunately, you can’t just “go home” to escape the touching — ‘cause, ya know, your baby is there. And they need you. All the time.
Luckily, in most cases, there’s someone trustworthy around who is willing to hold your baby for a while.
But in comes mom guilt. “You do love your baby, right?” “Why don’t you want to hold your baby yourself?” “They’re so tiny, they need you!” “Will I scar my baby by pushing him away from me?” “Why does her touch feel like needlepoints right now?” “Am I not suited to be a mom?” And so on …
It feels horrible, and admitting to those feelings is hard. But research shows that so many moms experience this (especially breastfeeding moms, I imagine). So for our own well-being and our baby’s well-being, we have to be honest about it.
Solution: If it’s just you and your baby, and you just can’t not hold them, find some form of meditation that works for you. You’ll be able to stare off in the distance, breathe, relax your face and shoulder muscles, and think happy thoughts.
2. I get lonely (even though I’m rarely alone).
One thing I’m grateful for in this whole pandemic is that mental well-being has become much less taboo and much more talked about. People are starting to speak up more if all is not well or if they’re feeling lonely.
But I think this is especially dangerous for introverts, because we are often used to, and enjoy, being alone. So we might not recognize loneliness early on, or we might have a hard time doing anything about it.
As an introverted new mom, I’ve been lonely. The logistics simply make it harder to go out, the pandemic keeps people away, and the guilt …
So you continue to stay home too much (even in non-Covid times), you don’t reach out to others for support (even emotional support), and you blame yourself for feeling lonely.
Solution: Be honest with yourself about your loneliness and find solutions that work for you: no complicated planning, short activities in-between feeds, corona-proofed (socially distanced) visits, and people that give you energy instead of using it up.
3. I research and (over)think everything.
I love doing research and thinking things through thoroughly. (Can you say that five times in a row?) People might call it “overthinking.” People have called it that, in fact.
While it may give me a headache at times, it prevents me from being in a difficult spot later on. (Plus, anything’s better than underthinking, right? We’ve all raised an eyebrow or two at those types.)
I thoroughly research baby items and imagine myself (at length) in future situations, so I know what I’ll need and how I’ll use it. For example, the thought of those big feeding pillows made me uncomfortable, but why? Everyone uses them. But we used to live in a tiny apartment and something big and clumpy that would be lying around everywhere would stress me out, big time, after a while.
So I found a pretty and smaller one, and it was perfect for me.
Solution: Think however much you like if it helps you and if you can shut it off at appropriate times. But if it prevents you from sleeping, or makes you worry even more, you need to find a way to let it go or store it away temporarily.
4. I appreciate the joy of material goods (they’re so pretty)!
Oh, another shameful topic. Material goods don’t matter, right? All that matters is that your baby is healthy and happy, and they don’t care about the color of their thermometer or the design of their nursery. I know … but I do.
I’m an introvert who likes the “deep” stuff. But I also like the pretty stuff. I spent hours finding the perfect items (borrowed, bought, handmade, repurposed …) for my daughter’s room and was over the moon with the pretty, but expensive, blanket that I could buy with a gift card.
People have shaken their heads at me, surprised that I would care for such frivolous stuff. And I would indeed never waste money on things that really don’t matter. But I still like to fill my life with pretty things.
Why? Because it makes me happy and gives me peace.
Solution: Do what makes you happy (within reasonable terms). If my guilty pleasures don’t fit your image of me, adjust your image. Because if I can honestly answer the little Marie Kondo in my head with “Yes, it makes me happy,” then screw the mom guilt.
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5. I don’t want to be the center of attention, but I still want some attention.
The pandemic has been going on for so long that we’re missing so much of our friends’ and families’ lives. Depending on the area we live in, we can’t attend weddings, grieve with loved ones, see each other’s kids grow up, or just chat and be with each other.
It’s hard; we want to be there for others. But to be honest, I miss my own share of attention, too. And even though introverts are not usually the ones to seek out attention, most of us still like some degree of it from our loved ones.
In my case it’s about my second/current pregnancy. I don’t want strangers touching me or weird uncles asking about how I want to give birth. That’s too much attention.
But I’d like to show off my belly to my close friends. I’d like to meet up with a few mom friends and share stories. I’d like to be together with my family and talk about my worries or dreams for this child. It’s hard to admit for me as an introvert, and it’s a hard thing to actively seek out, especially now.
Solution: I try to find little things that are not too uncomfortable: sending a picture of my sonogram to my family, filming my moving belly and sending it to friends who I know will love it, treating myself (someone has to do it!), and so on. Adjust to your situation and needs!
6. I struggle to find that balance between work, baby, life, and me.
When my grandmother was young, women used to stay home the moment they got married. Nowadays, you’re usually expected to go right back to work after maternity leave.
I’ve always worked from home as a freelancer, and since my daughter was born, I’ve limited the jobs I’ve accepted so I could take care of her instead of bringing her to daycare.
The thing is, I’ve both loved it and I’ve struggled with it.
I truly believe (if possible) in a quiet, stressless environment for babies with lots of undivided attention from a primary caregiver. But I also struggle with the lack of mental stimuli for myself, the loneliness, and the financial drawback of this arrangement.
Not having to deal with colleagues, prying eyes, idle chit-chat, and an environment that expects me to be “on” all the time is great as an introvert. But it also makes it harder to arrange enough social contact, to make myself go out of my comfort zone once in a while, and to make myself a contributing part of society.
It’s a difficult balance, but anything’s better than an open-office floor plan. Don’t you agree?!
Solution: This is so personal. It’s your family, your relationship, your baby/children, your financial situation, your job … Only you can find the “best” solution. So don’t worry about what anyone else says (they don’t know every detail of your life) and don’t think you have to make permanent decisions. You can always adjust as you go.
At the End of the Day, Your Child Is Worth It
I truly hate clichés, but I’ll use one anyway. Even though life as a new mom might seem hard at times — All I want is some alone time! — it’s really worth it.
My first child is the most intelligent, funny, adorable and lovely little creature on earth. My second child will be (and already is) their own version of perfection.
Being a parent is not easy. Being an introvert is not easy. Being an adult is not easy.
But we deal with the challenges, ask for help when it’s too much (or so we should), and learn and improve. And we get the best rewards ever: happy, hopefully healthy, children. It’s a huge cliché, but I wholeheartedly stand by it.
Children make it all worth it. (At least your own. Others’ might be little a**holes. That’s how the world works.)
So just remember that if you’re an introverted mom, it’s OK if you feel touched out or lonely or just spent half the day (over)thinking about what diaper bag to get. Most importantly, remember that you’re not alone. (I’ve got your back.)