I’m not saying the newborn stage is the most difficult. It’s actually the easiest, and when you get to the next stage you will miss how tiny your baby used to be. When they are walking you will miss when you could put them in a bouncy seat or on the floor and they were content to just watch you do whatever you were doing. You think eating lunch over a nursing baby is hard? Wait until your 14 month old is looking you in the eyes and dropping peas on the floor one by one just to see your reaction.
But I know what you are going through. I know how overwhelming it all is, this new way of life. So many decisions, so many changes, and not enough hours to process what’s going on. A friend of mine had her daughter recently and shared with me that she had been hit with some serious baby blues. She asked for advice, prayer, and encouragement.
I started to think back a year when Jolie was first born. The first few months really are a blur. 3 days postpartum we brought Jolie to church, the same morning my milk came in. That was an adventure all on it’s own, and I won’t go into detail. Every day we faced a new challenge, and each challenge was exaggerated thanks to all of the crazy hormones!
I would lay in bed with my brand new baby terrified and overcome with joy all at once. I didn’t want to share her with anyone but I desperately longed for a nap. I cried because my mom didn’t make cornbread for my chili, I cried because Jolie was the most beautiful human I had ever held. All of the plans I had made before she was born were flying out the window. I plopped a pacifier in her mouth the first night home AND brought her into our bed so we could get a few hours of sleep even though I had said for 9 months that we wouldn’t co-sleep. I went against every way I had planned to parent. That put a whole new burden on top of what I was already carrying: guilt.
Guilt. Not being able to do skin-to-skin immediately like all the books said to, even though I know her safety and health were more important in that moment; letting the nurses take her the night she was born because I was too exhausted to even realize she was my daughter; not understanding what was the right decision to make about vaccines; and many more ways I felt like I was messing up as a mom.
I could go on. That feeling of inadequacy. Why did God give me such a huge responsibility? It’s so overwhelming.
No matter how many books you devoured when you were pregnant, how much advice other moms have given you, this is your new job and it is completely unique. No one can tell you the best way to raise your child.
So I encourage you to pray. Pray for wisdom. Pray for supernatural energy during long days and sleepless nights. Pray for joy amidst all of this confusion.
Also, It gets easier. SO much easier! Soon you will not care what that other mom might think if you mention you are co-sleeping. It won’t matter as much if you breast feed or formula feed, wear your baby or use a stroller. You may let your baby crawl around in public places just like the mom you used to judge. You will stop googling every new obstacle for hours and go with your gut (but thank God for google because it really helps when you are in a rut!) (P.S. I rhymed a little). You will make your own decisions even if it’s not what everyone else is doing. You’ve got this, mama! You just have to get through the first few months. I could tell you all of the things I wish I had known the first 6 months, but it wouldn’t have mattered. Experience taught me so much more than words ever could.
Now, I am able to see in myself, Amanda, and our other new mom friends, how we’ve grown up this past year. How our conversations have matured, how we’ve relaxed into our roles as mothers. As our babies turn to toddlers we’ve stepped out of that “new mom” bubble. I’m not saying that now we are experts, but it means there is less attention, less excitement, less of that urge to ask more experience moms for guidance, and more freedom. We’ve survived a year! We will continue to make mistakes, we will face new and unexpected challenges, but I’m loving this new stage of motherhood. I still have no clue what I’m doing, but thank God for his guidance and forgiveness !
So, new mom. Take a deep breath, and remind yourself that you are learning so much from these experiences. And when it gets particularly difficult, just look at the beautiful child in your arms and remember the gift God has given you.