I don’t want to brag (well, maybe I do), but I had an amazing pregnancy. I know that some of you want to throw your shoe at me right now, but I did. I loved being pregnant. Everyone told me how cute I was and people did stuff for me and we ate what I wanted to eat. EVERY NIGHT.
I was excited to have my baby. I read all the books and took some classes. I had a doula and an awesome delivery. I had my natural birth, just as I had planned and 2 1/2 days after birth, we brought home a perfect little boy.
Then reality set in.
Here’s the thing. I’m an introvert. I’m sure some people were disappointed, but I wanted no help. I did not want to be observed. I didn’t want feedback or judgment. I just wanted to figure it out as I went along. That’s how I live my life. I have to do it myself and learn the hard way.
There I was. 22 stitches in my lady parts, sitting in mesh panties filled with ice, cracked nipples, no sleep, with a baby who cried without provocation. I remember sitting on the couch with my sweet bundle of joy, crying into the dog and praying out loud, “God, what did I do? Why did I do this?”
Prior to meeting my husband, I never had the fantasy of being a mother. I have two much younger brothers (one who is 11 years younger than me and another who is 17 years younger than me). I felt like I already had babies in a way. I have never liked to babysit. Truth be told, I really only like a handful of kids, even today. I’m pretty impatient and enjoy exercising control. Kids are like my kryptonoite.
Back to that critical time …
No one tells you the hard truth about the first few weeks. It isn’t all sweetness and light. Newborns don’t give you a whole lot of feedback other than screaming and gas.
On top of all that, you BLEED FOR A WHILE (really, one of you mommas should have told me that).
At first, it felt that motherhood was coming naturally and easily for everyone else but me. I needed someone to tell me the truth. The truth is, motherhood is freaking hard. And, it was okay that things weren’t coming naturally to me. If I were to trust social media, I would get no truth; only professional newborn pictures of people holding their little cherub with adoration in their eyes. I desperately needed someone to be real with me.
It was hard. And I cried. You see, I had prepared for taking care of the baby. But I was not prepared to take care of myself.
Having your first child is earth shaking. Everything changes. You can’t go anywhere for a while. Your body changes. Your mind changes. Your marriage changes.
My husband was in love with the baby from the minute he was born. And that only made me more insane. I labored for this child. I literally grew this child in my womb.
MY FREAKING WOMB. DOES HE EVEN HAVE A FREAKING WOMB???? NO.
I was lucky (I consider it a near miracle), to have a few friends who had babies around the same time I did. The majority of them allowed the façade to drop and they were real with me. I felt seen. I felt like I wasn’t crazy. Because I wasn’t!
Once my lady bits healed up (and it took a while of using all the Dermoplast Walgreens had to offer), and my nipples stopped being on fire, and the breastfeeding and hormones leveled out, and my newborn and I got used to each other, things started getting better. I began enjoying my little guy’s company. I began to feel human again and he began interacting. Now, as a hilarious 3 1/2 year old, I love him so much. I hold him and close my eyes, just to seal in the memory of all this sweetness.
I say all this to let you know, things get better. You do love your child. There’s nothing wrong with you. Let people help you. Be a part of a tribe of women who lift you up and can say, “I get it. You’re going to make it through.” Make your own care plan. You are a major piece of this momma / baby duo. Take care of yourself.
And be real. Please, I beg you. Show other mommas who are out there struggling that there is solidarity. Comment with your favorite #realmomma picture. Not the filtered sweet happy picture, but the real in the trenches stuff. You never know who that will touch.