Motherhood is like folding a fitted sheet: no one really knows how.
Congratulations you have just delivered the most beautiful baby! The light of your life; soft, snuggly and oh! That intoxicating new baby smell! There is no question why we continue to procreate.
These first few days are blissful, exciting, and full of love, this whole experience is. However, some days are tough. Some instances are overwhelming and some weeks may have you wondering what you got yourself into. Hang in there Momma! We’ve all been there. If someone disagrees with motherhood being a challenge they are either lying or gave birth to a doll.
I am currently at month 9 of being a “new mom” (does this title have an expiration date? Will I ever be a veteran mom?), to a beautiful, sassy, hilarious baby girl. She has more character than a lot of people I’ve met, she is busier than a Labrador puppy, she despises sleep, her smile can make even Grumpy Old Men melt, she’s been teething since she was two months old, she thinks the world of her dad, and her big brown eyes look at me like I hung the moon and stars. Most days are absolutely wonderful. Most days I feel on top of the world, like I could have a soccer team of children and life would be perfect. Other days, I think one is just right.
On the days when one can be too much, remember this:
This Too Shall Pass
It’s 4:00 AM. You do not remember the last time you slept. Does the thirty second micro-nap you took while playing peek-a-boo count? Your baby has not slept in more than 30 minute increments in what seems like weeks. You’ve bathed with enough lavender to calm a raging bull, swaddled, unswaddled, nursed until you practically dry up, rocked until your abs hurt, tried every noise app you could afford, no noise, soother, no soother, diaper change… Repeat. Finally, she’s asleep. She’s lying peacefully in her bassinet, you quietly pull the covers up to your neck, get comfortable, close your eyes and… WAAAAAH! I used to think I was tired in university, nothing compares to this type of exhaustion. I wish I had the answer for you, for me, for our babies. Unfortunately, I don’t. What I do know is this too shall pass.
Breastfeeding, teething, sleeping, routine… Every stage has its challenges, every challenge comes with options and every option comes with advice. In the end, everything will be okay. You will sleep again, your baby will latch or you will bottle feed, those teeth will come through and eventually you’ll be able to read your baby’s cries and cues.
Babies are like horses; they can sense your fear, amongst other emotions. My baby feeds off my milk and my energy. She knows when I am really tired. When I am rocking her to sleep, on those exhausted nights, it’s as if she can smell my desperation. I’ve noticed when I am tense, or becoming frustrated she fights her sleep a lot harder. In these instances I practice breathing exercises, in for three, out for four, and continue to lengthen my breaths. This drastically changes the atmosphere and she usually calms right down. Of course it doesn’t always work. I won’t claim I’ve found the golden ticket to putting your baby to sleep; however, it is worth a try. There are plenty of meditation links online or even just simply taking a moment to notice your breathing can make a drastic difference in yourself. Walking away from the situation and returning relaxed, leaving the room to grab a glass of water or heck a sip of wine, you’ve earned it, can also make a difference.
Ask for Help
My fiancé works away, he is gone for weeks at a time, the first few times he left I felt like I had to do this on my own. This is our baby. I thought that doing it on my own was the best for her. I was wrong. I burnt out. I needed a nap. I needed a minute to myself. I felt extremely guilty asking my mom to take her for a couple hours. I hadn’t pumped any milk so she would need to be back by her next feeding, it was a small step. My mom was elated! When I woke up, I was a new mom. I had a new outlook, and a lot more patience. I needed the help and my baby needed me to ask. There is a reason the saying goes “It takes a village”. It really does. Sometimes just being around other moms or loved ones can help you feel normal, like an adult and not isolated from the rest of the world. Asking for help can give you a new lense to look through, admitting your hardship opens a window of opportunity to be available to hear that you are not alone. It is OKAY to reach out. It is OKAY to admit you do not have it all together. It is OKAY to think about yourself, and your wellbeing, because of it, you are also benefitting your baby’s happiness.
They Don’t Mean to Be Jerks
“Is she a good baby?” I hate this question. What’s a BAD baby? She isn’t inherently a jerk, but some days I wish I could answer this question honestly. “Last night she was straight out of a horror movie”. But, I smile and nod “Yes she’s great!” When you’re in the trenches, exhausted, feeling drained of energy, milk and patience it is hard to remember that babies are not purposely testing your limits. They are just as confused as you, if not a hell of a lot more frustrated with trying to navigate this new world. Sometimes they are in pain and we do not know it, other times they are not ready for sleep, most times they are over tired, and some days, yes some days, they are just being little hellions, but, always remember they love you.
You are enough.
You are strong.
You are a great mom.
You are doing your best.
You are their world.
YOU ARE ENOUGH.