Well, little Felicity is six months old now and I’ve been thinking a lot about my first couple weeks of motherhood. Maybe it’s because a lot of good friends just had their babies, but it’s been on my mind. And to say that my first couple weeks of motherhood were easy would be a lie. Recovering from a C-section and learning how to breastfeed, adjusting to no sleep, and just transitioning from having a baby inside of me to having a baby on the outside that relied on me was no easy task. The transition was hard. But what was even harder was how hard I was on myself.
I wanted to be a great mother. Who doesn’t? But I put so much emphasis on trying to be perfect that the transition was so much harder than it needed to be.
Dear newly postpartum self six months ago,
I know this is a little odd, to get a letter from the future that you will have never actually read in the past — but bear with me. K? K.
You are doing alright. Stop beating yourself up for feeling what every mother has felt at one point or another; it’s okay that this is hard right now. It’s okay that you don’t know how you feel. You feel incredibly happy and blessed, but at the same time you’re coming to terms with the fact that there’s a little child who needs you more than everything — and those feelings are a little overwhelming at this point. And that’s okay.
There will be a day when this will be easier. And when that day comes, you’ll feel the difference in the way you respond to her cries. I know that right now, her cries make your heart race and you start sweating in a desire to calm an unconsolable baby. And that will calm down soon. I promise. You will still feel a biological response to her cries — but it won’t be so drastic. You’ll be able to distinguish her hungry cries from her sleepy cries soon enough. Hang in there.
There will come a time when you won’t lie awake at night worrying about SIDS and the amount of diapers she’s gone through. You will be able to sleep when she sleeps and not just stay up googling all about your concerns soon enough.
Also, let yourself cry. I know that things are different right now. I know that you’re feeling like you can’t simultaneously think that motherhood is hard while being a good mother. But you can. Give yourself permission to feel the rough parts and don’t feel guilty for thinking this is hard. That doesn’t mean you’re a bad mother; it means you’re human. These feelings will pass once you allow yourself to feel them, because the more you bottle it up… the more you’ll feel unlike yourself.
And lastly, remember that these feelings will pass. You won’t always feel like you have a big sign on your forehead that reads “first time mom.” In fact, you’ll kind of miss these days — not because you wish that it was hard again or want that big sign, but because your little one will never be that small again. One day you’ll hear her say “momma” and you’ll watch her crawl around, and that will be an absolute joy. One day you’ll long for the days when she would fall asleep in your arms so easily. You’ll look back on these days with a nostalgia you’ve never had before. So remember, self, to embrace the toughness because with it comes the joy and privilege of watching your little one grow. And if motherhood was meant to be easy, it’d be called babysitting.
So hang in there momma. You’re doing alright.
Much love from the future,
A not so new, first time momma.
P.S. – Stop obsessing about the stretch marks.
P.S.S. – Seriously. I said stop.