I took a deep breath and walked into the room full of strangers. I was desperate to connect with them, to ask my burning questions, to find support. I was a new mom and I felt like I was drowning. Drowning in tears (both my baby’s and my own.) Drowning in uncertainty. Drowning in an intense feeling of being overwhelmed. Drowning in sleep deprivation. I needed to find other moms that I could share this struggle with because I felt completely alone.
When I was pregnant with my son, I spent hours dreaming about what life with a newborn would be like.
Sure, I knew I would probably be a little tired. Maybe the adjustment would take some time, but I barely gave those things a second thought. Instead, I envisioned staring into my son’s eyes with him smiling and cooing at me. I would be able to interpret every cry and soothe any hurt. Breastfeeding would be easy-peasy because it was what nature intended. Life would be grand. I would be so happy spending all day at home with him, that I probably wouldn’t go back to work. It is almost comical how blissfully naïve I was.
At eight weeks postpartum, those dreams I had of spending hours with my son snuggled sweetly on my chest were long gone.
Breastfeeding had turned into a train wreck. He had a tongue-tie and latch issues, and I had major supply issues. We had already visited a GI specialist twice. My supply tanked, and we had to increase his formula intake. The mama guilt hit me full-force.
Getting him to nap was also a nightmare, and when he wasn’t asleep, he seemed tired and fussy ALL.THE.TIME. I was spending every ounce of energy I had just trying to figure out ways to keep him from crying, instead of soaking up this precious time with him. I was so tired, I would break down when my husband left for work because I didn’t know how I would survive another day. I felt incredibly guilty for wanting time away from my baby.
During these early weeks, a well-meaning friend asked if I was loving every minute of being a mom.
That question haunted me because truth be told, I was not even close to loving every minute. I felt like I was barely surviving, but I couldn’t tell her that. It seemed as though I should be, and to admit to anything less felt like I was not grateful for this gift that I had been given.
I knew I needed to connect with mommas in the same stage of motherhood as me, and that is why I jumped out of my comfort zone and into a local Mother/Baby group.
As I walked into this group of strangers, I had such high hopes. I desperately longed to find my mom “soul-mates.” These women would understand me, wouldn’t judge me, and we could commiserate together about hard motherhood was. I finally wouldn’t feel so alone!
Instead, what I found the first day was a group of women with babies that seemed to be straight out of a Johnson&Johnson commercial.
The kind of baby that, in my pregnancy bliss, I fully expected to have. Their babies hardly ever cried and were easily soothed. The other moms seemed to breastfeed effortlessly, while I hid in the corner, mixing up formula and feeling like a failure. As other moms talked about how hard it would be to go back to work, I was secretly counting down the days so I could finally get a break. I felt like a complete outsider amongst this group, but I continued to go because I still had hope that one of “my people” would show up.
During one of these meetings, I couldn’t get my son to stop crying.
When the group leader came over to offer support, I broke down in tears. I told her about how much I had been struggling the past couple months, and how being a mom was so much harder than I ever thought it would be. She gave me a big hug, and then shared something with me that I did not expect to hear from this woman who seemed to have it all together. She admitted to me that when her son was in the newborn phase, she told her dad that had she known being a mom was going to be so hard, she might not have had kids. She understood my struggle because she had lived my struggle. I was her, fifteen years earlier.
Her honesty and empathy in those few minutes was the life preserver I desperately needed.
I felt like a huge weight had been lifted. When you are a struggling new mom, it so hard to admit to anyone else that the dreams you had while pregnant have been crushed by the challenging reality you find yourself in. You desperately want to paint the picture that life with a new baby is just perfect — that you are, as they say, loving every minute of it. After all, isn’t that how you are supposed to feel? I will be forever grateful to that mom who was so open and honest with me.
It is perfectly okay to not love every minute of early motherhood.
New mommas – if you feel in over your head right now, let me throw you a lifeline. It is perfectly okay to not love every minute of early motherhood. Let me repeat that. IT IS PERFECTLY OKAY TO NOT LOVE EVERY MINUTE OF EARLY MOTHERHOOD. It is okay to admit when you feel overwhelmed. It is okay to reach out for help. It is okay to get a babysitter if you need time away from your screaming child. That doesn’t mean you are a bad mother, and that doesn’t mean you love your baby any less. If breastfeeding doesn’t work out, you are not a failure. If you choose formula, you are still an awesome mom.
Early motherhood is freaking hard!
Throw a fussy or colicky baby into the mix, and some days it feels dang near impossible to get through. Even if you have an “easy” baby, it is still damn hard. You will make it. You will survive these early months of motherhood. And as crazy as it sounds when you are right in the thick of it, you might even decide to do it all over again someday!
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