Letter to a first-time mom
Dear New Mom,
How are you doing?
Seriously, how are you really doing?
You may be feeling happy, lucky and beautiful. You may be feeling frustrated, overwhelmed and lost. Or you may be flip-flopping between the two. Wherever you find yourself in this whirlwind, know that you are not alone. I see you. I was you.
I know you are exhausted. You just ran a 40-week marathon and are feeding, cleaning, watching, planning, worrying. You just want to sleep but I promise soon you’ll feel rested again.
I know you are in pain. You are wondering when the ruthless cramping will quit, if you will tear again each time you squat, or if your cracked nipples will stop bleeding. Your body needs to recover. In the meantime, wear ice pads and soak your nipples in lanolin! I promise soon you’ll feel comfortable again.
I know you are bored. Motherhood isn’t always fun. Your entire day is filled with the repetitive chores of diapering, feeding and cleaning. You spend hours singing nursery songs and asking about poop to a baby who doesn’t talk. You watch TV series in 15-minute increments and getting the groceries is your outing for the week. You are nonstop yet bored at the same time. I promise soon you’ll be excited again.
I know you feel guilty. For not working when you are with baby, for not playing enough with him when you work. It’s a lose/lose, but remember that no one can meet your baby’s needs and fill his heart the same way as you. You will be a better parent by having some time for yourself. I promise you’ll feel courageous for taking it.
I know you are lonely. You are sitting with your baby at home and wondering what you’re supposed to do all day. Newborns are a lot of work and the interactions only go one way for a while. Each day can feel like an eternity. I promise soon your baby will coo and hug you back.
I know you are making mistakes. You accidentally nicked your baby’s skin when you trimmed his fingernails, your phone fell on his head while breastfeeding, and you forgot his spare outfit in the diaper bag yesterday. It’s fine. You are doing things for the very first time and trying your best. Mistakes don’t make you a bad parent, they make you grow and do better. I promise soon you won’t care as much.
I know you feel disconnected from your (childless) friends. Find yourself some mamas to hang out with. Those who will freely tell you the truths about motherhood. Women you can vent to and laugh with, and who encourage you. I promise soon you’ll feel lucky to be surrounded by so many great peers.
I know you are mad at your partner. You are jealous of him for being in the bathroom alone, on his phone, for 15 minutes, or for being able to play golf all day. Having a child is a life event that tests any couple. He can’t understand what you are going through. But he should listen. And give you time and help. I promise soon you’ll be romantic again.
I know you feel inadequate sometimes. Having doubts means you are a normal human being doing your best at something new and difficult. You are a great mom. If you ever doubt yourself, just think about how much your mom means to you. I promise soon you’ll see you’re enough.
I know you miss your pre-baby life sometimes. And you don’t recognize yourself. Maybe you also feel like you wasted your career. Or you are disappearing into nothing. Mama, you are everything! But it’s okay to miss things from your previous life; it doesn’t mean you don’t like being a mom. You undeniably lost a part of yourself to motherhood, but you are actually closer to meeting your truest self. I promise soon you’ll feel you again.
I know you don’t always like motherhood. You may be upset with yourself for not feeling constant joy and happiness. But you know what? It's ok if you don't enjoy waking up for the third time in one night, or being covered with spit-up, or constantly reading the same books. That doesn't mean you don't love your baby. Because you are going to enjoy so many other moments that will overwhelm you! I promise soon you’ll smile at it all.
I know you don’t know what you are doing. You know those moms who act like they have it all figured out? They don't! Don't believe it for a second. We are all navigating a difficult and unfamiliar territory, but you have what it takes. Trust your gut. I promise soon you’ll feel more confident.
I know you are scared. When you are alone with your baby and can’t get him to stop crying and; when he is sick and you can’t soothe his pain, when he is not eating 4oz every 4 hours... Don’t give in to feeling like a failure. Be patient and kind to yourself, the two of you just met and have to figure out how to work together. I promise soon you’ll be the best team ever.
I know you miss your pre-baby body but you should wear your new one with pride. Your postpartum body is a reminder of something amazing! It is beautiful and strong. Stay away from social media and TV shows that showcase how quickly others lost their baby weight, and focus on your own journey. Allow yourself time to heal and recover. I promise soon you’ll be able to squeeze your butt into those jeans again.
I know this is not easy. The days are long, the to-do list is never-ending and the coffee is not enough. Just know you're not the only one who’s on the new mama struggle bus. It's hard, and it's ok to admit that. It’s temporary and you are gaining so much strength and wisdom along the way. I promise soon this new life won’t be a strain on you.
I know you feel pressure and compare yourself. No one else can be a better mom for your child, so don't try to be like anyone else. Just be you. I promise soon you’ll realize you don’t have anything to prove.
I know you are crying, a good cry is often cathartic; it sets you on the road to healing. I promise soon those puffy eyes will go away.
So, Mama, how are you feeling now? Better?
People will offer TO HELP YOU by bringing meals, doing your laundry, holding the baby. Please. Take. Them. Up. On. It. You just brought a human being into the world for crying out loud! And this makes you amazing.
If you are a brand-new mom and are struggling, keep this letter in mind; if you know a soon-to-be mom, please, share these words with her, and pass on your best bit of wisdom in the comments below.