ChicagoNow bloggers are joining forces today in support of new moms as they celebrate their first Mother's Day. You can find all those posts right here.
Dear New Mom,
Wait, scratch this letter thing. I'm coming over.
I'm here. I'm here so let's chat while you feed that perfect baby. I'm gonna kick everybody else out so it's just you and me. I'll keep a safe distance, because I know. I get it. But let's talk. And then I'll stay here while you go take a shower. I swear you can have him right back because I get it. Sometimes 5 minutes is too long. Sometimes a shower is too long. Here's a coffee, just the way you like it.
I've only been at this mom thing for about 2 and a half years, but I do have 2 of them, so maybe I'm qualified to say a few things.
For this baby right here in front of you, YOU are the most qualified.
I know how tired you are. I know. It's a bone crushing, delusional kind of tired that - let's all be honest - you think you may die from. I promise, you won't die.
I know this tiny being terrifies you more than any other creature you've encountered in your entire life.
If you cry this entire conversation, I will understand and not only that, chances are I'll cry with you.
I know that you feel dirty and more than a little crazy right now. You feel like nobody cares. Especially not your baby.
I know that you feel nervous and unprepared and more than a little terrified that this is all really happening. Your baby thinks you are perfect. Even though he yells a lot.
I know that you read all the books (very few are actually helpful, right?) and asked all the questions and did all the research to prepare for this. FOR THIS. What the hell is this? You've waited your whole life for this and you could not be more qualified.
Don't ever read the fear-mongering articles. Don't ever listen to people who try to scare you. Banish them. There is truth of what is to come and there is people taking joy in scaring you. You don't need that because YOU ARE THE MOST QUALIFIED.
You are concerned because there is no real connection with this baby. This lump. How are you supposed to bond with this thing? And yet, you cannot go more than about 10 minutes apart from this non-responsive globby goo of sweetness that was inside you or someone else just a few days ago instead of in your arms. This beautiful perfect peachy baby acne covered blob that you would walk in front of a speeding train to protect.
One day very soon you are going to be hit by a Mack Truck of love and connection. The first little flicker of a smile of recognition and you are done for. That is the best day of your life. Only it gets even better the next day. It gets easier and yet it gets more difficult. It gets harder and yet more rewarding. It tries your patience and your sanity. It tests your limits. It tests your boundaries and your will to survive. And yet with one giggle or "mama" you are toast. You are theirs forever.
What time is it? Have you eaten anything yet today? Let me get you something. Just sit tight. Look at your baby. Just look. Here. Eat this. Don't worry, he'll get used to the falling crumbs on his head.
How are you doing? Do you feel like you are lost? I felt lost. Do you feel more profoundly sad than you have ever felt in your life? I was so incredibly sad when I first was home. Along with feeling the most joy I've ever felt, I felt terribly incredibly sad. You have this baby now. You have this baby and you're supposed to be all cheerful and jubilant and thankful and happy and just on cloud 9, and yet you feel sad. WHAT IS THAT? It's normal is what it is. But let's pay attention to that OK? While all your emotions are out of whack right now and that's completely normal, we have to be careful of postpartum depression. It's real and it's scary as hell. I didn't have it but know a few who did and it's crippling. But it's OK. You are OK. If you do suffer you can get help and you are going to be OK. I promise.
You are still the most qualified.
Take solace in the FACT that nobody knows what the hell they are doing with their first babies, and if they tell you they do, they are lying. EVERYONE is insecure and feels out of control at least a tiny bit. No matter how much you read or talk with other moms or even if you have the strongest motherly instinct in the world, until you are in it, you just don't know. So for that fact right there, the playing field is leveled. Parenting is a learn as you go skill. You can't possibly know everything you'll encounter let alone how you'll react in that moment. We all learn as we go and it ain't always pretty.
My boy rolled off his changing table. MY BOY ROLLED OFF HIS CHANGING TABLE. Now, I don't say that to say that happens to everybody, but simply to say, I'm still a kick ass mom. I wanted to kill myself when it happened. I had vomit in my throat and tears in my eyes that were merged with the vomit and yet, he was OK.
I've got baggage. I've got a past. Just like you. But that doesn't mean we are going to ruin our kids. In fact, they will be better off with the knowledge that their moms are human and made mistakes. That they battled demons and that made them even better. Even more appreciative. Even more loving. Even more qualified.
Don't you ever compare yourself to other moms. You are all this baby needs and you are perfect just as you are. Nobody could be more ready or more prepared for this day to day adventure that only you and this baby are meant to experience. Mother and baby. One on one. You will have others in your life, your partner, your family, your village. But nobody, and I mean nobody else is this baby's mom. Only you. And by mom I mean the one who is raising this baby. The one who chooses to take on the whole shebang and does so with great anticipation and joy and gratitude for the entire experience. You wanted this. I know how badly you wanted this and this baby knows too.
Tell people what you want. Tell people what you need. Don't you ever let anyone make you feel badly or wrong for what you need. This is your baby so these are your rules. You are in control. I mean, as much control as a lunatic with a baby can have. HA! Listen to your gut and honor your instincts. When you need a break, get a break. Call in some favors. People are happy to help for the most part. And by help, I don't mean just sit and stare at the baby. HELP FOR YOU. You need to be your own advocate and fight for what is important to you and your baby. For your time and your space. You will never regret spending too much time alone with your little immediate family. It's the best time spent. I would only wish for more hours. I guarded our time and privacy like a rabid dog and I have no regrets about that. I still do it. Who else will do it if you don't? You are the most qualified.
Don't listen to the "just wait untils" whether they be followed by good or bad. Live in your moment. Appreciate this moment even if it's terrible. You'll appreciate that next moment when you get to it. Don't rush it and don't let anyone rob you of your right now. Protect it with everything you have. You won't regret it.
I'll end with a secret I haven't told anybody else. I clench my teeth when I see or squeeze something that absolutely thrills and tickles me. I've done it my whole life. I don't know why. It's like I have to bite down really hard to feel all the feelings that come along with the emotion that I'm feeling while grasping onto someone precious to me.
My jawline has completely come undone since I had these babies 2 and a half years ago. Because I am the most qualified for my babies.
I wish you a lifetime of unhinged jawlines. Because YOU are the most qualified for yours. I promise. This is going to be the most fun you will ever have. Just hang on.
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