When a mom is born
Becoming a mom is a complete transformation of a woman. There is a romantic myth that motherhood is blissful, but it will not take a new mom very long for that myth to come crashing down on her sanity and self-confidence. A new mom will embark completely unknowingly on a quest to find her sanity that she has been stripped of. That process of peeling away the old layers of her former self, as the new, bolder, stronger self emerges. She has a rocky path before her, one of finding herself and getting to know her new self all over again.
At a recent gathering with some close friends, a very recent addition new mom arrived. Everyone was “oohing” and “ahhing” at the photos of her (undeniably gorgeous) twin girls. For a moment I got lost in thought looking on from the side-line as all the “veteran” moms made light-hearted jokes about new parenthood, sleep deprivation and depression.
We were all extremely keen to give advice and encouragement. But underneath the small talk and smiles hides the realness, the hardness of motherhood.
I knew that every single mother there, while cooing and fussing over the incontrovertible miracle of what is, still knew that there will be a price to pay.
I wanted so badly to prepare my friend somehow for the wave that was about to wash over her.
I was there too, so ready to meet my baby boy, literally willing him out of my uterus at 37 weeks, and wishing time away to take him home. First there was the influx of people welcoming him into this new world. He slept most of the time (back then), and Adrenalin was pumping through my veins like an addict on the ultimate high.
Then came night-time, with no one there just you and a screaming baby that you cannot seem to calm….the tiredness…no the exhaustion, and I remember how dispirited things seemed at night. When motherhood came, it chewed me up, swallowed me whole and then spit me out as a new unrecognizable, mad, crazy woman.
Oh new mommy, I want you to know that the love you will feel is nothing like you have felt before. It will be frightening, and it will be comforting, and it will intensify daily, the kind of love that consumes you, and takes your breath away by just thinking about it. But the thing about such love is that it can feel heavy and disproportionate. The love will fill you to the very top, nearly spilling over, and at times you will nearly break in half from the top-heaviness.
In the beginning feeling this kind of love is especially bewildering and disorienting, and sometimes you will not be able to tell the difference between exhaustion and depression, and that darkness will rob you from what should be the most precious months of your babies new life.
Don’t let that happen! The goal is to survive, endure and persevere for that very short period of insanity and to remember that you’re not alone.
It doesn’t get easier, but It’s gets different. As the years pass it becomes less emotionally demanding, we learn to enjoy more and stress less, but the exhaustion remains.
Oh my friend in the beginning your baby will cry, a lot. Your days and nights will blend into each other, both beginning with the saddest screams you will ever hear. Your body will respond the way that it is programmed to – with utter panic. You will make endless unnecessary trips to the pediatrician; GP, pharmacy and baby clinic, and you will be sent away with only pamphlets on “colic”. You will Google, you will read books, and you will ask advice… And you will come up short. You will ALWAYS come up short.
At times your baby will only sleep in 20 minute increments, you will feel like you are going mad, day after day, alone, between the screaming and the exhaustion, you will feel like you CANNOT anymore…..but you can and you will. There is no magic formula. Only patience, a virtue you’re about to get a massive lesson in, patience with your baby, with your partner, but mostly with yourself.
For a while, nursing will be excruciating, and your baby will fight it, hard. There will be a constant battle of latching and un-latching and tears along the way. Contrary to the laws of nature, your baby will have to learn to nurse, and so would you, and it takes time, in my case it took 4 weeks of exclusive nursing for both of us to learn the art. Also, panic will flood your body when your milk lets you down the majority of the time. Breastfeeding induced anxiety attacks happen, and it will happen to you without you even knowing it.
You will feel guilty for not being the mommy you planned to be, you will feel guilty when you are frustrated or sad, your will feel guilty for feeling guilty….and the guilt will never again loosen its grip on you.
You may never feel like you will get the hang of carrying this love, but you will.
You will see photos of other new-born’s napping sweetly in their stylish organic leggings with their perfectly make-up’d mom smiling from ear to ear on Instagram, while you look like something out of Jurassic park, and yours baby seems miserable. There are billions of mothers in the world, yet you will feel deeply alone. Compared to everyone else, you will feel like you are failing as a mom….. Many times you will feel like you are failing as a mom.
You have crossed a threshold of life that you will never be able to cross back over and it is exciting, but it’s also terrifying. And I want you to know that mother’s journeys are all so different, because we as mothers are all so different, but we will always be united under the definitive fact of motherhood being an immensely intense and difficult transformation in some way, shape or form.
You will be stretched to beyond limits you never knew you had, and you will be tested over and over again. You will go through days feeling completely bat-shit crazy, worn out and completely beaten and defeated. Then there will be days when you skip through life like Pharrell Williams humming “because I’m HAPPY”, like you’ve totally got this (and you so do!). Only to come crashing down again into the reality that is motherhood and its endless curve balls
Dear new mommy, I assure you, you will find your rhythm. And when you do, it’ll be absolutely magic!