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In the past three months, my life has forever changed. It has been a dream come true . . . and it has also been one of the most difficult timesmentally and emotionallyof my life.

While I am typically pretty good at keeping in touch with friends and family, in these past weeks, people have probably wondered what world I’ve been living in because it certainly wasn’t my usual one.

They’d be right. I’m living in a whole new world in the white house at 6729. It consists of my husband, our dog Frank, one tiny human whom I love more than life itself, and me.

We have all been adjusting to our new life, and, for the most part, it has been an easy adjustment to make.

I have always wanted to be a mama.

I’ve spent my whole life dreaming of it, watching and learning from other mamas before me, and figuring out what kind of mama I wanted to be whenGod willingthe time came.

So when we found out I was pregnant, my heart was overjoyed. My prayers had been answered. My dream was coming true. When our daughter was born, it was like one giant puzzle piece in my life and my heart fell into place. I slipped into my new role like a new dress, tailor-made for me. It fit perfectly and felt wonderful, powerful, and joyful.

But as my husband and I say, “It’s not all puppy dogs and rainbows.” First, labor and delivery are no joke. Second, recovery is no picnic either. It hurts. You’re sore. You’re tired (read: even more likely, you’re flat out exhausted). Not to mention, there’s a tiny human who is completely dependent on you for love and survival.

There are no breaks.

Motherhood is diaper changes and nonstop nursing with a nap here and thereif you’re lucky. It’s learning her cues, so when feeding time comes, she’s not already ticked and starving.

It’s figuring out which diapers give the most coverage and the least likelihood of a blowout or diaper rash.

It’s tummy timean activity she didn’t mind it in the beginning but now hates. That means you now have to find creative ways of getting it in to build her muscles, so she can hit that next milestone and prevent a flat head.

It’s waking up at all hours of the night, then truly waking up sometimes and realizing I’d picked up and nursed my baby in my sleep. I know this because I’m holding her and my breast is out and near her little mouth like she’d passed out after she got her fill. It’s both amazing and a bit scary.

It’s learning my body was built for this. I can survive on little to no sleepfinally, all those years of having trouble sleeping are paying off! My body can produce enough milk to feed my baby (something I know not everyone can do, which makes me extra grateful I can), and I love being able to breastfeed her. My body handled pregnancy, labor, and delivery like a champ and has recovered quickly and well. For all of this, I am forever thankful.

It’s watching for signs of postpartum depression, so I monitor my mental and emotional state.

I also sit up thinking and praying and planning. I multitask and kept the house (decently) clean. I take care of and make sure to give my husband love. I navigate my relationship and the changes that come with now being a wife and a mother. I rack my brain for any and everything that can be done from home to bring in money for the household, so I can stay home and be with my daughter because the thought of someone else watching her makes me cry and feel physically ill.

Through all of this, I have thought of my friends and family with whom I am typically good at keeping in touch. Lately, I haven’t been so good.

You may have wondered where I went. You may have been gracious enough to know I was busy trying to learn how to be a mama and take care of a tiny human and just needed time to figure it all out.

You may have been worried about me, about how I was doing, about how I was dealing with everything, about how I’d do when maternity leave ended. (In fairness, I was asking myself all of these same questions.)

You may have thought I was too busy to think of you.

Well . . . some of all of that is true and warranted.

You may have asked yourself these questions but kept them in your heart. Or you may have let it go long enough and checked in on me and askedeven if I didn’t always give you the full truth in return.

Know this, though: I did and do think of you. It’s just that . . . 

It was at 2 a.m., I was up to nurse, and it wasn’t an appropriate time to call or text.

I got a free minute and a free hand, got ready to call you, but the dog needed to go out, the baby woke up again and needed fed, and/or I needed to go to the bathroom, brush my teeth and hair, and shower or it was never going to happen.

I had just enough time to get a couple of house chores done, and they were all loud. A noisy call would be hard and rude, and texting would interrupt the workflow too much, so I wouldn’t finish what I needed to get done.

I wanted to talk to you but knew I’d break down if I heard your voice.

Or you’d ask about my return to work, and I couldn’t bear thinking about it or giving an answer that wasn’t even true just to cut off that line of dialogue.

I wanted to see you but knew you’d take one look at me and know I was struggling.

I couldn’t handle the pity or an offer to help when I knew you already had a full plate of your own. Plus, other people trying to care for my baby stressed me out more than it helped.

I also couldn’t bear breaking down and spilling my struggles because they were things I needed to work out for myself and with my husband. And it felt like a betrayal of my relationship to talk to anyone else about them. The guilt of that was one more thing I could not add to my load.

I thought of you, but it was 2 a.m. again and not an appropriate time to call or text.

In the past three months, my life has forever changed. It has been a dream come true, and it has also been one of the most difficult times of my life. I may have been busy navigating my new norm but know I thought of you often. I just wasn’t always able to reach out like I would have beforefor a number of reasons, none of which were really about you.

Thank you to those who have given me the grace of space and understanding and to those who have broken through with a message you couldn’t have known was so perfectly timed.

Previously published on the author’s blog

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

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Kaylin Stravalli

First time mama working my way home to my husband, our baby girl, our dog Frank, and a happy life. 

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