Congratulations you have just birthed your baby. I know that you’ve been hearing that a lot lately, and you may not feel like there’s anything to celebrate right now. You are wounded, tired, and overwhelmed. You are in shock about the reality of what having a new baby is like. It’s not what you thought it would be like. This baby needs you all the time. You knew that would be the case, but you didn’t KNOW. You have done this before though. You can do it again. Remember? Remember that it’s ok. The days are long. The moments when baby needs you seem endless, but they will end. This helpless being will grow into a little human that doesn’t need you quite as much. When you look back on this time you will remember how challenging it was, but you will also remember how cuddly and sweet this baby was. The anxiety will melt away, eventually.
Remember that you may feel lost and alone. When you are awake time after time throughout the night, you will feel lonely and wish for the morning, even though you need sleep more than you ever have. You will try to put baby down, and help her sleep on her own, but she will demand you. You will get your hopes up that this time she will sleep longer than 20 minutes and you will be frustrated when she wakes like clockwork. You may be tempted to start searching the internet for answers to the mystery of newborn behavior, don’t do it. No matter what you do, you know that your sweet little baby will figure this world out. Her development may not follow the books, it may not make sense to you, but she will get there.
Remember that you are really not in control. You may try to create schedules and plans. You’ll start each day with a list of things you want to do. You will trick yourself into believing that time at home with a baby equals time to get stuff done. But really, who are you kidding? You’ve done this before. Silly mama. You know that the minute you have to be somewhere at a certain time all hell will break loose. And don’t forget, now you have a toddler to help spoil your plans. Don’t forget that you can do this. You had so many moments of going with the flow, even though that’s not what comes natural for you. Remember how good that feels? You can do it again. The dishes will wait, your friends will forgive you for canceling on them. You can eat cereal for dinner. You can let this tiny creature run the show, just for a bit.
Remember mama that you might not know what the hell you are doing for a while. Sure you’ve done this before, but this is a new baby and a new situation. It’s ok if you are not an expert. Repeat after me, “I don’t have to get this right all the time.” No one is really watching. You’re not going to impress anyone by pretending you’ve got it all together. You will make meaningful connections with friends and family when you have the courage to admit that you’re struggling. Remember when you did that before? Remember how the world opened up and you felt like you could breathe? Remember how every other mother you ever talked to had a story to tell of her own challenges? Some had it worse, some seemed to get through a little easier.
Remember that you are the only one who has your expectations. The baby doesn’t have any expectations of you, your partner doesn’t have any expectations of you and your friends and family don’t have any expectations. So, if you want to rewrite the script halfway through, if you want to scrap the blueprints, if you want to make a U-turn….you can. No, you can’t give the baby back – and you don’t really want to. But you can always make a change. You can admit that you’re wrong or you didn’t know.
I know it’s hard to hear this right now, but remember this will pass. You will look back in a year or three and your memories will be a little fuzzier. You might even remember baby wearing, co-sleeping, and breastfeeding with fondness. Yes, you’re ready to have a break and the road looks long, but you can do this.
Your pregnant self.