Dear New Mama,
Welcome to motherhood. Buckle up. This will surely be the most transformative event of your life. Words may not even be able to describe what you are in for. There will be more frustration and anxiety than you ever thought possible. And it at times it is really really hard. You will worry about everything and question yourself and your abilities. You will forget what it’s like to get a full night’s sleep and do something totally by yourself without being worried about the time you will get back for the babysitter or if you packed enough in your diaper bag (and if you’re anything like me, you will likely forget something at home every. single. time).
Your identity will change. You will no longer be as organized as you were–no matter how hard you try. Your brain will just function differently. I thought pregnancy brain was bad, but I realize mommy brain is a whole new ball game. In the beginning there is so much to learn–how car seats function, how to pop out a stroller, the best way to breastfeed. You will energetically and physically connect to so many women and gain a deep appreciation for your mom and grandmothers. It is like you will step even deeper into your femininity and womanhood.
You will get a lot of different advice and read lots of things about what you should do and how you should parent. In the end, you are the expert of your own journey and you are the only one who knows your baby. Do what you feel is right and tune out the noise.
You will cry…and if you don’t, you should. Because if you don’t, you will crack up. It is not humanly possible to carry around that much love and dedication for another person without being moved to tears. And you will cry for your former life–the one that you never realized you would miss until you didn’t have it anymore. You will cry for your relationship with your husband because at a certain point, unless you carve out the time, your relationship consists of arguing over what the best approach to changing a diaper is and who is going to get up with the baby when he cries.
You will both be more sleep deprived than you can even comprehend and even if your baby is an “amazing sleeper,” gone are the days of consecutive sleep and sleeping in. Oh and there is such a thing called sleep regression–no one told me that. Just when i thought she had a pattern down, it changed and she regressed. And showers…well those hot, long showers are also days of the past. TV? There are set hours where you can do everything and they consist of nap time and bedtime and when people tell you to “sleep when the baby is sleeping,” you should listen. I know you’re going to want to do a million things during that time and most of that time I spent mine thinking about where I was going to begin and before I actually began, she was up and me time was over. It was a real challenge and still continues to be to this day.
But I would do it all again and I plan to and want to. Because I have never felt this much love and admiration for another person. And your son is a beautiful reminder of the love you and your husband share for each other, and even though you longed for and missed those date nights when you final do get alone time, no matter how hard you try, the conversation will always go back to him. You will laugh together about his latest milestone or the silly things he says and does. You will want to stay out late and enjoy your time together, but you know that you have signed up for a full time job and he’s not going to sleep in the next day just because the night before was date night so staying up late is really screwing yourself in the end.
There will be dance parties and belly laughing–snuggles and stories. There will be lots of pictures and videos, but nothing can capture the wonder of it all and so my friend the best advice I can give you from one mama to the next is to savor it all. All of these little moments will add up to big ones and as cliche as it sounds if you blink, you will miss them. And just remember it is all temporary–the good and the bad.
My baby is 2 now. She walks and talks and sings and dances. She refuses to go into her car seat and always wants to use my cell phone. I don’t even remember what it was like for her to be a newborn–not really–it feels like a lifetime ago. Enjoy it all—and just know that you can lean into the support of other mamas to talk and vent and cry and laugh. So much love to you on this new chapter fellow journeyer. You are going to do great.