Dear brand-new mama,
There’s something I want to tell you; something I wish someone had whispered in my ear during my earliest days of motherhood. It’s something you need to hear from me, because I’m afraid that you might never hear it from anyone else.
Mama? It’s OK if this stage doesn’t feel magical to you.
Chances are you’re holding a newborn baby in your arms as you’re reading this. Maybe it’s the middle of the afternoon, or maybe it’s the middle of the night. Maybe you’re feeding your baby, or maybe she’s sleeping and you’re soaking in a few minutes of quiet. Maybe you’re fighting to keep your eyelids open, or maybe you’re full of energy (just kidding—you have a newborn . . . you’re definitely fighting to keep your eyelids open).
Whatever your circumstances, I bet this adjustment to motherhood has been more drastic than you ever could have anticipated.
Do you feel a little deceived, mama?
Everyone told you your heart was going to swell immeasurably. Everyone told you how dreamy this part of life was going to be. Everyone told you the second you laid eyes on your baby, you were going to experience a love unlike anything you had ever known. Everyone gushed over the sweetness of newborns and obsessed over the precious little miracle that was headed your way.
And while I’m not denying that all of the above is true, I can’t help feeling like there’s this false illusion hidden somewhere in the way that we talk to mother-to-bes; some promise of a magical journey that is about to begin—one full of sunshine and rainbows and all that is lovely and pure.
But this journey? It’s also filled with a lot of other stuff. A lot of other tough, frustrating, excruciatingly exhausting stuff.
It’s filled with sprints of sleep that don’t even begin to put a dent in the bone-aching tired you feel.
It’s filled with leaky breasts and sore nipples, or else leaky bottles and condescending opinions on formula-feeding.
It’s filled with cries that just won’t stop, and the frustration that comes with not knowing how to soothe this tiny human who has suddenly been placed in your care.
It’s filled with cluster feeding marathons where you feel over-touched and over-used and over-stimulated; of days on end when every ounce of your patience is tested.
It’s filled with worries about whether you’re doing enough, whether you are enough.
It’s filled with late nights when you should be sleeping but you won’t allow yourself to take your eyes off of your little one long enough to catch some rest for yourself because you’re paralyzed by the fear that something bad will happen the moment you close your eyes.
Does any of this sound familiar? Are you nodding along with me?
The newborn stage is hard. Like really, painstakingly, earth-shatteringly hard.
Is it beautiful? Well, yes, it has its moments.
Is it a miracle? Of course—you brought a life into this world.
But nevertheless, it’s hard; so very hard. And that’s OK.
It’s OK if you don’t feel the magic.
It’s OK if you look forward to your baby getting a little bit older and a little less needy.
It’s OK if you long for the day when you can go for more than two hours without whipping out your breast to be gnawed on by an ever-hungry baby.
It’s OK if you’re anxious to get to a place where you can have some “you” time again; some time when you can be undeniably, unhurriedly, alone.
It’s OK to mourn the loss of the independence you used to have.
It’s OK to admit that the newborn phase isn’t your favorite.
It’s OK to not be OK.
It’s all just OK.
If you’re not loving every second of this path you’ve suddenly found yourself on, let me be the first to assure you these feelings are no reflection of your ability to kick butt in this motherhood thing. You can, and you will.
This phase is hard, mama. But it’s also so very short.
I won’t tell you to savor every moment, but I will encourage you to memorize the best ones, because before you know it you will be on to new motherhood pastures and these days will seem like a totally different lifetime.
If you need to reach out . . . reach out.
If you need to vent . . . vent.
If you need to ask for help . . . ask for help.
But please, mama, don’t for one second let yourself believe you’re failing. Don’t for one second believe something must be wrong with you. Don’t for one second believe you’re screwing anything up.
This motherhood thing? You were made for this.
A mama who was brand-new not so very long ago