The first few months as a new mama proved to be one of the hardest things I have ever experienced. People told me it would be difficult, but it’s not something you can fully understand until you are entrenched in it. I think it’s a combination of the crazy postpartum hormones, the lack of sleep and the fact that life as you know it completely changes in an instant. It’s like a shock to the system on so many levels. You feel so alive and, yet, so alone.
As I prepare to take on this journey for the second time, I wanted to write a letter, for myself, for you, for all the new mamas out there who are awake in the middle of the night, rocking a new baby and feeling alone. I wanted to take a second to snap you out of your funk and pummel through the layers of exhaustion-induced haze in your brain, to say…
Hey New Mama, do me a favor.
Gaze down at that precious, bundled ball of sweetness in your arms, kiss that tiny nose, those soft squishy cheeks, those perfect little lips, and remember, you can do this. You will do this. This won’t last forever.
I know you feel guilty. You feel guilty for mourning the loss of your old life, instead of rejoicing in the new life in front of you. I know you feel like your emotions have gone haywire, and you feel guilty for crying more now than when you were pregnant. You feel terrible for unexpectedly lashing out at your husband. You feel like a bad mom for not enjoying every second with your new baby. You feel guilty.
But do me a favor. Stop beating yourself up. Start counting all the ways that tiny baby is a blessing, thank God for the little miracle in your arms, and remember, this won’t last forever.
I know you’re tired, so tired. I know that when you’re up at 2 a.m., for the third time in three hours, you feel certain that you can’t possibly continue living this way. You’re not sure if you’ll be able to drag yourself out of bed or keep your eyes open for even one more minute. You wonder how many cups of coffee one human can safely consume in a day. You truly question whether or not you’ll ever be a normal, functioning human being, ever again. You are just so exhausted. I know that it’s putting a damper on your new role as a mama. I know that it’s casting a heavy fog over your attempts at joy.
But do me a favor. Keep those eyes open for just one more second. Take a mental snapshot of that perfect little face, savor that fresh baby smell, and remember, this won’t last forever.
I know you’re overwhelmed. You are overwhelmed by the realization that this isn’t temporary. You feel the heaviness of knowing that this human is your responsibility, forever. You feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, and all of the unknown is terrifying. Every time someone asks how much the baby is eating, or the thermometer flashes a number higher than 100, or the baby screams for seemingly no reason at all for minutes and even hours on end, you get scared. You feel helpless. You feel unequipped. You feel overwhelmed. And I know there are times you wish you could just walk away.
But do me favor. Stay. Stay in that rocking chair just one more minute. Memorize the way that tiny baby fits in your arms, run your fingers over those chubby little hands, and remember, this won’t last forever.
I know you feel forgotten. I know you feel like the old you suddenly ceases to exist. You find yourself covered in spit-up, counting poops, obsessed with trying to create a schedule, and wearing the same pair of sweatpants day after day. You wonder what happened to the person you once knew. It’s like she disappeared overnight, and you wonder if you’ll ever find her again. You wonder if the person you used to be even still exists. I know you feel forgotten. I know you feel alone.
I know, I know. It’s hard. I know it’s hard to see past the guilt, exhaustion and heaviness when you are living smack dab in the middle of it. But, one day, you will. These hardships? They’ll be forgotten. Things will get easier. One day soon, you’ll wake up and feel at home again. You’ll feel at home in your new body and in your new life as a mama. You’ll realize the fog has lifted, and you’ll taste the sweetness you once dreamed of. And all you’ll have left of the early days are the snapshots of that perfect squishy baby and the memories you were able to fight through the fog to hold on to.
So, do me a favor. Don’t let those moments go unnoticed. Don’t let the exhaustion cloud your vision. Give those cheeks an extra kiss, savor that sweet baby smell, and rock that baby just a little while longer. Gaze down at your bundled ball of sweetness, memorize those teeny-tiny features, and thank God for the little breathing miracle in your arms. Hold tight to these precious, fleeting, sweet memories, and never let them go.
You can do this mama. You will do this. This won’t last forever.