Dear first time mama,
You’ve heard all the advice and read all the things and now you’re home with this brand new little beautiful person who just won’t stop crying. You’re happy, you’re sad, you’re tired, you’re excited – if ever there was truth to feeling “all the things” – this is it.
It starts to feel very overwhelming. Each moment seems fleeting and also a million years long. And sometimes you wonder what you were thinking bringing a person into this world.
If I knew you, I’d bring you your favorite drink, hold your baby while you took a shower, then sit next to you and gently share these things I wish I’d known.
Enjoy it and let it go.
“The days are long but the years are short” seems like a helpful phrase, but most of the time it just brings mom guilt – and we don’t need more of that. Balance enjoying the little things with letting go of those moments that weren’t so great. There will be more. You’ll get another chance. You didn’t ruin them.
Take all the advice with a bucket load of salt.
Oh, the advice. Everyone has an opinion, don’t they? And now that we have the internet it seems that we can’t get away from finding someone telling us something we did “wrong” or could have done “better.” You are your baby’s mama for a reason. You were given this child on purpose. You are their advocate and you know what’s best deep in your mama gut. Learn to smile, nod, say thanks and move on when people offer their endless “helpful” advice.
This is not the end of life as you know it.
In those first few days and weeks, I know it feels like you’ll never sleep again, never shower without thinking you hear crying again, never leave the house again. But you will. This is not the end of life as you know it. Each phase and season will give way to a new one, and as you go along you’ll learn to balance enjoying it with looking forward to what’s to come. You will eventually have clean hair and a clear mind again.
I see you. I was you. My nursing times were spent googling symptoms and solutions and statistics. While there are some great, helpful resources out there most of the time all this did was cause me more anxiety and make me question what I was already doing. Just stop. Take a moment to be still and enjoy your baby. Trust your gut. Ask your mom or best friend. Stick with what you think is best. You’re doing great.
That new body gave you that new baby.
Oof. The new body that comes with that precious bundle can be hard to dress, difficult to deal with, and can often feel like a complete stranger. How can it feel like you’re in a stranger’s body? Even the healthiest of bodies undergo changes when we create life. When you look in the mirror and are tempted to roll your eyes or pull on clothes that don’t quite fit anymore, remember that your new body gave you that new baby. You literally created, grew, and brought new life into this world. You’re amazing.
The kind of bottle, type of milk, brand of paci …isn’t what matters.
Sure, there’s research. Sure, we all have preferences (as do our babes). But, really? What matters is that you’re loving your new baby the best way you know how in this moment. You’ll learn, grow and change as you walk the path of motherhood – but don’t get caught up in the seemingly endless options. Focus on what really matters – providing a safe and loving space for this new little life.
Remember to take care of you.
I know, I know. This can be a difficult one. When you’re half asleep and trying to remember how many ounces baby ate last and when they need to eat again and if they pooped today – plus staring at a pile of dirty laundry and dishes… the idea of taking care of you can feel like the one more thing you just can’t handle. I’ve been there too. Take a breath. Ignore the chores. Choose one small thing that will make you feel human and then get up and do it. Maybe it’s a shower. Maybe it’s asking a friend to come over for an hour to talk. Maybe it’s going for a walk. Just do it. When you take time for yourself, you have more to offer your family.
You’re doing a great job!
If you’d like more encouragement, head to thegracefuljourney.com to read more things I wish I’d known as a first time mama. And if you know a mom who needs to hear this, share it with her! It takes a village.