When planning for your first child, there is so much focus on the physical: How big your belly is. How you will set up the nursery. Which hospital you will use when giving birth. What type of car seat you will bring your golden egg home in.
All important stuff.
Yet now that I have swum through the seas of postpartum, my advice to soon-to-be-moms is always this — take care of your emotional self. How can you take care of everyone else if you don’t take care of yourself?
I needed to process a lot as a new mom. Questions like, “Did that really just happen?” “Did he really just say that?” “Is this really my life right now?”
I needed to heal a lot as a new mom. There is more healing to childbirth than just the physical wounds that many women carry home with them.
I need to learn to release a lot of things as a mom. Let it go, as Elsa says. Letting things weigh you down just makes your whole life harder. Plus, I have to be light on my feet in order to save my toddler’s life all day long.
I quickly learned that I was not the first woman to feel this way and I certainly won’t be the last. New moms are so jacked up on pregnancy hormones and baby blues or the “let down” that they are completely oblivious to how awesome they are. How powerful. Your touch can soothe someone. Basically, you are a wizard. And yet harsh emotions like guilt and shame have somehow snuck their way into the most beautiful days of your life.
I know many people are reading this thinking, “Wow, moms are CRAY!” Um, yeah. We are. So watch out! Those words and feelings are cray-cray. But if you think it’s crazy to read it, imagine how it feels to feel it. These emotions and thoughts pop up out of thin air for pretty much everyone postpartum. It’s really so unfair being a girl sometimes. I thought getting my period while wearing my khaki pants in 8th grade was bad. That’s child’s play compared to the embarrassing things that have happened to me while creating humans. So, let’s change things. Let’s get rid of those words. Let’s replace them with: You moms are…the shizz, the bomb (bringing it back!), amazeballs, unbelievable, irreplaceable, important, remarkable, wonderful, beyond compare, powerful, strong.
I just want to shake every single one of you and say:
Don’t cry, Mom. If you don’t instantly see unicorns and rainbows flying out of your babies’ butts when they are born. If your expectation of what you are “supposed” to feel isn’t met. If you feel disconnected. Everyone’s childbirth experience is 100% different. That’s a fact. You and that babe are going to be just fine. You’ll see.
Don’t cry, Mom. I know it’s the middle of the night and you hear the breast pump talking to you. The noise it makes starts to sound like a word being yelled at you repeatedly. You aren’t losing your mind. Well maybe you are a little bit. But you’ll survive. (Your husband might not, blissfully snoring away in bed.)
Don’t cry, Mom. You’ve genuinely asked yourself, “Can I even do this? What have I gotten myself into?’ and then instantly feel a pang of guilt hit you for those thoughts. “How could I ever think this? I am so lucky. My family is so awesome. I should be Super Mom.” Cut yourself some slack. You are just a person — a person going through the biggest transition of your life. It’s okay to think these things. As long as you know that you will be fine and understand that you can just let those thoughts come and then let them go.
Don’t cry, Mom. For not knowing why or when or how you and your husband started fighting. “We were having a great night. How did things escalate so quickly? We never used to argue.” It’s okay. You will be fine. It’s stressful trying to figure out how to be a parenting team. I’m sure some people adjust much more quickly than others. My husband and I may always be a work in progress! The good new is, we will both always put in the work. Even when it’s hard.
Okay, go ahead and cry, Mom. The baby won’t sleep. He also pulled your hair quite a bit during the events that transpired in these dark hours of the night. You are so tired and so frustrated. His cries are like knives to your soul. It’s okay. You can cry while you hug that baby. He won’t mind. Sometimes you just have to let it out. It’s truly not easy loving anyone this much. Go ahead and have a good solid cry. Then regroup and start all over again. Because that’s what Mom’s do.
The truth is: You are not alone. No matter how you feel at this point in time, you are not alone. This too shall pass.
The even more important truth is that you are awesome. We all know it. Now you just have to see it.