The Not-So-Gentle Transition into Motherhood.
A baby is born, and with that, a Mother is born alongside it. You may have felt like a Mama as soon as you saw that plus sign on the pregnancy test, but nothing can prepare you for the overwhelming reality of meeting that little person in the flesh. What an amazing, beautiful thing! The love you feel for your newborn is something you have never experienced. This is better than you could have ever imagined.
Or, is it?
Most first time moms daydream about those first moments after birth. The first look at that little person you grew inside you. The car ride home, and the serenity in your house now that it includes your baby. But, the reality of becoming a parent is usually much different than we imagined, and the first month (or the twilight zone as I like to refer to it,) is more often than not, not as enjoyable as we dreamt it would be. Maybe it’s even downright, awful. How dare I even say that? I must be a terrible, evil person, if I don’t welcome this baby I wanted so badly into our lives with big smiles, and tears of bliss, I will most certainly be shunned from all of humanity!
Let’s just be clear. You are still an amazing Mom, even if you’ve ever wondered, “What did I get myself into?”
Now that we have cleared that up, let’s just get real here. Because, well, real is kinda what I do. Are you reading this, thinking about when sweet little Ellie came home, and all she did was suck the life out of your raw, chapped nipples, explode bright yellow poop all over your clean leggings, and cry bloody murder? And the one thing she didn’t do, that you wished she would, was sleep? Maybe you even did what I did as a first time Mom, and sat up on the couch with her lying on your chest sound asleep, while you kept your eyes peeled on the television so you wouldn’t fall asleep. Because, it was “not safe” to sleep with her on you, and it wasn’t safe for her to sleep in your bed, and she wouldn’t sleep in her bassinet, so I guess this was how life was going to be now. Surely, I could make it through life with three hours of broken sleep a day, without the help of coffee (because caffeine is bad for baby and would surely keep her awake even more,) right?
WRONG. You will burn out, or go crazy, or both at the same time, which is what happened to me. Sort of. Around day four, I melted down, sobbing into my husband’s chest as he peeled the baby away from me and demanded I go lie down on the couch. He assured me he would hold her beside me so that I could be certain she was safe. Because, obviously, she wasn’t safe with anyone other than me.
By day five, I was thinking, “How could we possibly be fit to be parents? Clearly we were not made for this. We are probably going to royally screw this baby up! Will she ever sleep longer than 30 minutes at a time? Will I? Maybe I have postpartum depression. Maybe she should just go live with my Mom. Why don’t I feel the love for her that I should? I’m a terrible, awful mother and someone should take her away.” Sound familiar?
What if, dare I even say… You didn’t feel like you particularly loved your new baby? I mean, of course you loved her… But, you didn’t feel that soul connection. That intense love you had been anticipating. Yep, this is a thing.
I’m here to tell you… SO MANY NEW MOTHERS FEEL THE SAME WAY! Can you believe it? All this time, you could have been honest about how you felt and realized that there are other women in the exact same shoes. Maybe even met a few of them and formed friendships based off of this commonality. What a relief that would have been! The problem is… the movement to be honest and open about the difficult transition into motherhood, is a slow one. While you’re living it, you may feel guilt, shame, and embarrassment. Well, I’m here to tell you, to tell those feelings to beat it, because you, Mama, are amazing. And one day, when your baby is not a baby anymore (believe it or not, she will eventually leave babyhood, regardless of your inadequacy.) She will be growing, walking, talking — and you will realize that even though you thought you couldn’t do it, you could, and you did, and you are. Can you believe it? YOU. The mama who surely wasn’t fit for the job.
So before you meet your baby, or if your baby is asleep in your arms as you read this… and you can’t feel your bum anymore, but you dare not move in case she wakes up — remember that the transition into motherhood is a gradual one. Once we accept that, and learn to be gentle with ourselves, then we see that it’s day by day. Moment by moment sometimes — and every day you learn something new about how to parent. You find things that work for your baby and your baby alone, and you gain confidence. It’s true what they say, it really won’t be this difficult forever.
So darn it Stella, find that groove. The balance between motherhood and the outside world will come, and you will live to tell the tale.