Maybe people didn’t want to scare you or it’s been so long that they’ve forgotten. Perhaps they told you how hard it would be, but you brushed it off, assuming you were stronger, more prepared. But now, here you are. Your baby is out in the world. People visit with stars in their eyes. Their faces light up as they sniff his head. They hold your little one with an ease you cannot understand and tell you how much they miss it. Some of them will ask you how she sleeps, as if this is a marker of how good, or bad, of a baby you birthed.
Some will ask you how you are doing, and you will lie. You will put on your best smile and say you are doing good, afraid that if you tell the truth it means you are a bad mom, or worse, you don’t love your child. You don’t tell them how you cried when you opened the pantry and there weren’t any beans on the shelf. You don’t tell them that even when your baby is sleeping, you can’t, because you are terrified he will stop breathing. You don’t tell them how you want to be alone, for just a little while, but you are overcome with guilt at the thought of leaving her for an hour.
Some people will bring you food, and you will be grateful, but tired of lasagna. Some may even offer to help, to let you shower, or take a nap. But you won’t accept. It would feel like accepting failure, because you are supposed to be able to do this on your own. You know that you are supposed to keep your baby fed, changed, napped, and happy all while making sure they’ve had their tummy time, listened to Mozart, and read 40 books (not to mention keeping the house spotless and food on the table). You know that you are supposed to enjoy every minute of being a mom. That’s what they say, right?
But the truth is, Mama, being a new mom is really, really hard. You went from being responsible only for yourself, to having someone’s life, literally in your hands. Late nights used to be a choice, now they are a job requirement. As soon as you sit down to eat dinner, the baby wakes up and demands to have hers. The second you pull the covers over your shoulders, his diaper has a blowout. You go days without washing your hair. Your arms are tired from the constant holding, feeding, bouncing, and rocking. You cry more than usual at things that don’t make sense. It seems like no one understands how you are feeling, and you aren’t sure what you’ve gotten yourself into.
Give it time, Mama. It gets better. Eventually, you will both fall into a routine. You will learn how to eat and nurse at the same time. You will figure out how to take off her onesie without smearing poop in her hair. Daddy will give him tummy time while you take a shower. You will give yourself permission to go to bed at 7 and leave the dishes in the sink. Soon enough he will look up at you and smile and you won’t even care that it’s 5 pm and you are still in your pajamas. Soon, you will feel your shoulders drop, and you will let yourself breathe again.
One day, you will feel like yourself again. And until then, let Nana come over and hold the baby while you nap. Let Aunt Susan sweep your floors. Freeze the lasagna and order takeout. And know that you are not alone.
This post was written by me and published on Proud Happy Mama.