“You’re going to be a wonderful mommy.”
“You are such a natural nurturer,” they said. “You’re going to do a great job as a new mom.”
I want to believe them. I want mommyhood to be my proudest and brightest accomplishment. While everyone praises new moms with encouragement and speaks of the highs you will feel, no one likes to tell you how hard it is going to be. I am a new mama to a precious five-week old baby girl. I am green and I am naïve. I am tired and I am overwhelmed with every emotion, some of which I never knew existed. I am an eternal optimist finding my way as this tiny human’s life is in my hesitant hands. As I navigate this new role I have some early confessions and observations to make…
1. I cry more than ever.
I cry because she is in pain and I can’t do much to soothe her. And, I cry, sleep deprived, because I wonder if I am good enough. I cry because I look at my husband with our daughter and couldn’t imagine I’d love him more and more each day as I see him as a daddy. I cry tears of joy as my baby girl smiles at me for the very first time, and life feels complete. I cry because all of my emotions are on overdrive, and it’s the best way I know how to embrace this wonderful season.
2. I have learned that every new “first” is accompanied with New Mama Anxiety.
That first trip to lunch with a friend, to the grocery store, out to dinner, to church, or to a social event, somehow has me paralyzed in fear. What if she cries uncontrollably? What is she goes through all the diapers on hand? What if we can’t stop her crying? Each and every “first” has left me uncharacteristically panicked; yet someway, somehow, we have survived. This was a new feeling for the punctual, efficient pre-baby me. I’m not the nervous type, and have learned over these past few weeks that everything will be OK. What’s the worse case scenario? We leave. Pack up, and go home. And if that’s the worst case, that’s not all that bad. I can do this. We can do this, baby girl.
3. I have never needed more grace.
Grace from others as I do the best that I know how and continue to learn how to be a mom. I need grace from my baby girl as we are equally on this journey together, ultimately trying to figure the other one out. And most of all, grace from myself. I don’t need to do it all. I can leave the dishes and laundry and shower when I get time. I don’t need to have it all together, and that is OK. It will get easier, and I will shower and/or eat without interruption eventually.
4. I have a newfound, deep respect for moms.
I’ve always assumed it was hard work to be so selfless and to have true, unconditional love for another being, but I’ve come to learn just how tough moms are. Especially the single mamas out there or moms whose husbands are deployed and they are in this journey alone. You are incredible. Also, how crazy is it that we carry a child for nine months and then GIVE BIRTH. That alone deserves some sort of a medal. I have never been more proud of my body and this club I’m now a part of as a mom. I feel like we should all have a secret, proud handshake. In the meantime, I’ll settle with rocking my linea negra like a badge of honor.
Some days are good, and some days are tough. But these first few weeks have taught me to live in the moment. These newborn toes, snuggles and sleepless nights won’t last for long, so pass the tissues and let’s do this, baby girl. Mama loves you and loves that you are hers, and she is yours.
About the Author
Carrie Barrett is mama of 5-week old Charlie and is founder and CEO of Carrie Elizabeth Inc., a boutique social media agency in San Diego.