Dear mama in the fourth trimester,

I see you. I feel your sheer exhaustion and disarray. I understand what it’s like to be in the dichotomy of new motherhood—an ever-delicate pull between inexplicable love and utter overwhelm.

You are simultaneously caring for a new life while trying to recuperate yourself; staying strong for your precious baby all while trying to hold yourself together. You are becoming acquainted with your new little one and your own rebirth as a mother—it almost feels like starting from the ground up, no matter how many children you have birthed before.

The nights bleed into the days, and it’s easy to forget where you are as time becomes a relative thing. And even though you have a precious new being with you almost every hour of every day, you perhaps have never felt so alone. The minutes that tick by during those early morning feeds or the time you’ve spent wondering how you will ever manage to survive with such little sleep—it all blends together after a while, and you may feel stuck beneath the weight of it all.

There is so much here, in this fourth trimester—so much that we enter into unprepared, with hearts open wide and vulnerable to the fragile beauty in the months that follow after giving birth.

Sweet mama, wherever this finds you today, in all your brokenness and overwhelm, know that you are not alone. The magnitude of the transformation that you are currently undergoing cannot be overstated, and I know on most days, it feels like you may not come through it whole.

As a mama who has gone through the fourth trimester five times now, let me be the first to tell you that you will make it through to the other side. Your body will gradually heal from all it has undergone to grow and birth your baby into the world. You will begin to feel more at ease in your newfound identity and fall into a gentle rhythm in this season of motherhood. You will begin to breathe easier and trust yourself more with every passing day, realizing slowly but surely that you can do this.

And in the process of becoming, healing, and transforming, please be gentle with yourself. Treat yourself with every ounce of kindness you can possibly muster, because you deserve it, mama.

You don’t have to have this whole motherhood thing figured out to be a good mother—you already are a good mother, exactly as you are.

Give yourself the space and time to feel, experience and rest; to be in the junction of who you were and who you are becoming. Don’t prematurely rush yourself out of a season that is equally important and vital to your motherhood journey.

If you can find solace in anything, may it be in knowing that this will not last forever—the lack of sleep, the overwhelm, the unknowing, the insecurities. They will gradually pass, day by day, and give way to the uncovering of the beautiful mother you are, the mother that has always been there.

In the process, don’t forget to mother yourself with the same love, care, and devotion that you demonstrate to your baby. Because you are deserving of such; you are worthy as you are and don’t have to prove anything to anyone as you navigate your way on your own path.

Most of all, never give up, never lose hope. Never lose sight of the forest through the trees.

Never doubt your strength, mama, and your capacity for the miraculous (I mean, look at that sweet baby). Step by step, you will find your way through the fog and overcome any challenges along the way in this holy calling of motherhood.

You are not lost. You are exactly where you need to be.

“We have a secret in our culture, and it’s not that birth is painful. It’s that women are strong.” – Laura Stavoe Harm 

Originally published on the author’s blog

Crystal Karges

Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC, is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Board Certified Lactation Consultant, and mama of five. With a virtual nutrition practice, Crystal helps overwhelmed mamas nurture a peaceful relationship with food and their bodies, end the battles at the dinner table and transform their kitchens to place of peace and joy.