There are so many babies being born all around me. I'm thrilled to share the journey of motherhood with some of my closest friends. But, the more babies that are born, the more I'm seeing moms in the throes of those very exciting, yet totally intense days right after baby is brought home. And, the more I'm realizing how unprepared most new moms are for what they're about to experience.
No one tells you…
When baby is born, your life will probably be turned upside-down in the most unimaginable way possible. There will be days when you won’t know what hit you. You’ll feel more love than you ever thought possible for this tiny, squishy, sleepy being who poops, pees, spits up, and cries…all the time. You’ll feel joy, so intense your heart wants to burst, and the very next moment, you’ll find yourself weeping, hot, messy tears, for no reason at all. You’ll celebrate things like eating breakfast before lunchtime and finding two seconds to shower before the day is over.
As soon as you sit down to feed baby, you’ll remember that your phone, or the glass of water you actually remembered to pour is now completely inaccessible to you. You’ll spend way too much time strategizing how to get up ever so quietly as to not wake the sleeping baby. And you’ll wish, on a daily basis, you had at least three hands.
You’ll marvel at the strength of your own body, that it was able to carry and nurture this baby for nine months before launching it forth into the world in such an unbelievably painful, yet truly magical way. But you may also come to resent that same body—for feeling so achy, so out of sorts, so swollen, and stretched out, and out of shape. You’ll wonder where your old body is, and if it will ever show its face again. You may see milk spilling out of your swollen breasts and feel more like a cow than a human. Or perhaps you’ll find your milk supply insufficient, and you’ll engage in every trick and tactic imaginable to bring in your milk with enough force to quell your hungry baby’s sobs.
You’ll read way too many books, and blog posts, and message boards on baby’s first year. You’ll Google every hiccup, every rash, every cry—desperate to understand what’s actually going on. How can something so small be so complicated?
There will be moments, when you’re alone with your baby, and for whatever reason, whatever you do, she just won’t stop crying. You’ll feel more helpless than you’ve ever felt in your life. You’re a problem solver. You’re educated. You can lead a team or run your own business—why can’t you get this tiny thing to stop crying.
And, you’ll make the mistake of glancing over at the laundry pile that’s now so high you can’t even see the washing machine. Or the dishes that just might be growing mould in your sink. You’ll catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and remember the days when washing and drying your hair was a necessity, not a novelty. And, those bags under your eyes...don't even get me started.
You’ll feel helpless and frustrated and exhausted. And you may, for just a moment, entertain the thought that you’re a bad mom.
That you can’t do this. You’re not cut out for the job. You’ll wonder what you were thinking. Were you really ready? Are you selfless enough to give up everything for this child? Are you strong enough to survive all those sleepless nights, those explosive poops, those missed meals, those anxious calls to the doctor? Are you capable enough to make decisions for this baby now...and forever? You’ll feel completely overwhelmed. You’ll feel totally alone.
And you’ll convince yourself that you’re the ONLY mom who is feeling this way. You won’t want to admit it to your friends, because they obviously couldn’t possibly be feeling so bad. You’re so lucky to have this beautiful, healthy, darling baby. You have no reason to feel so sad, so resentful, so stressed out. You’ll feel guilty for feeling the way you feel. And, when someone calls or texts to check in on you—you’ll force yourself to say: “Everything is great. We’re doing well. My baby is wonderful.”
But, I need to tell you…it’s okay to feel crazy, and moody, and sad. It’s okay to feel like your life has been turned upside down. It’s okay to admit that you don’t love every moment of the new mom experience. That sometimes you wish you could just go to work, or go out with friends, or get in the car and drive without worrying baby might wake up hungry before you’re home. These feelings are normal.
No matter how bad you feel. No matter how tired, how anxious, how frustrated. If you love your baby with your whole heart, unconditionally. If you commit to doing the very best you can—no matter what. If you give yourself the time and patience you need to heal, and grow stronger, and get used to this new situation. If you love your body and nurture it with good food, rest, and self care. If you talk about how you’re feeling, admit that things are tough and that sometimes you have doubts. If you do all these things…then you can never, ever say that you’re a bad mom.
So relax, try to make the best of this crazy, chaotic, and intensely joyful stage of motherhood. Go easy on yourself. Because, before you know it, you’ll turn around and your baby will be 3 going on 15. And she’ll say something like: “Mama, I heard you crying. I never want you to cry.” And, you’ll begin sobbing all over again. Because no matter how hard it is, how unfair it sometimes seems, how much you’ve given up, how much you’ve scarified, how tired you are...
Holding a child in your arms and knowing that she’s yours—is the most incredible feeling in the world. And, knowing she loves you more than anyone ever has or ever will...makes it all worthwhile.
And, I've heard it gets worse when they're teenagers, so there's always that to look forward to!