When I was pregnant with my oldest son, I had so many visions of what life with a newborn would be like. I pictured him snuggled closely on my chest while I rocked him to sleep. I pictured him happily nursing as I gazed down at his sweet face.
I figured I would be so happy spending all day with him, choosing to stay home full-time would be an easy decision. I had prayed and waited and dreamed of this baby for so long. Life with him would simply be blissful.
Except, it wasn’t.
In the weeks following his birth, my dream of what life would be like with a newborn collided hard with reality and shattered into a million pieces.
Breastfeeding was a train wreck. My son cried nearly every time I tried to nurse him. Getting him to nap was extremely challenging, and when he was awake, he often was fussy and hard to console. I was so sleep-deprived and stressed that when my husband left for work each day, I cried because I didn’t know how I was going to manage another day on my own.
I felt so guilty for desperately wanting time away from my baby—this wonderful, precious gift I had waited so long for.
When my son was about a month old, a well-meaning friend asked if I was loving every minute of being a mom. I jokingly said, “Well, not EVERY minute.” But her question haunted me. Was I supposed to be loving every minute of motherhood? Most days, I felt like I was drowning. But thankfully, when I needed it the most, I was thrown a life preserver. And then, another one.
Help came in the form of two strangers who were brave enough to share their own stories of struggle.
The first was a mom-blogger with a popular podcast. On one episode, she openly discussed how dang hard life with a newborn could be. I found myself nodding along as tears streamed down my face. Listening to her share her own experience without sugarcoating any of it was like a balm to my weary soul. Maybe I wasn’t the only new mom that was struggling. That thought buoyed me.
The second was a sweet nurse who led a mommy/baby group at our local hospital. I had joined this group in the hope of finding other mamas in the same stage of motherhood—perhaps ones I could commiserate with.
While all the other mamas were very welcoming, their babies seemed to be straight out of a Gerber commercial. They happily nursed while their moms chatted. They rarely cried and were soothed easily. These women even appeared to have taken showers and fixed their hair and make-up before coming to the class. How did they do it?!
They were living the newborn life I had dreamed about. Or so it seemed.
During one of these gatherings, my son would not stop crying. When the nurse came over to check on us, I broke down. I told her how much I had been struggling and how being a mom was so much harder than I thought it would be. She gave me a big hug and then offered me words I desperately needed to hear. She understood my struggle because she had lived my struggle. She admitted to me that when her oldest was a newborn, she told her dad that had she known being a mom was so hard, she probably wouldn’t have had kids.
I don’t know if that story was hard for her to share with me, but she did it anyway.
And because she shared some of her own hard truths, I left that meeting feeling lighter than I had in weeks. In that sweet nurse, I found no judgment—only complete understanding and support.
I will be forever grateful for these two women who weren’t afraid to talk about the not-so-pretty parts of motherhood.
The parts we don’t want to admit to. The parts that rarely show up on social media. The parts that make us feel desperately alone.
The truth is, we don’t have to love every minute of motherhood. As wonderful as it is, there will be times when motherhood leaves us feeling broken and discouraged.
These heavy parts of motherhood need to be shared more. Because moms need to know that no matter what we might be going through, there is another mama that has gone through something similar.
When we are brave enough to pull back the curtain and share our own messy story, our words just might be the life preserver another mama so desperately needs.