Forgive me if I start to veer off topic — I’m running on a collective five-ish hours of sleep, which is actually not that bad. Sure, I could have slept while my daughter napped today, but then, when would I have washed my spit up and milk-soaked clothes and her poop-stained onesies? But I digress.
Hi, my name is Marisa and I’m a new mom to my incredible daughter, Charlie. And while I’m honored to join the ranks of the mama coven, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit outright that there aren’t enough self-righteous parenting books and late-night Google spirals to prep you for the raw realness that is motherhood. Yes, it’s all the things — humbling, empowering, lonely, frustrating, messy, and beautiful. And as I ease into Month Two of being a mom, I’m here to share some of the things I’ve learned (about myself and about motherhood) thus far.
- Hello, Stranger in the Mirror. Who is that person looking back at me? I just incubated a baby for 40 weeks, gave birth, and now, I’m barely sleeping while I navigate the world of breastfeeding (WTF — did y’all know about hindmilk vs. foremilk?! Just me?). It makes sense that I’m a little squishier, I’ve got leaky boobs, and my undereye circles aren’t doing me any favors. But instead of freaking out, I’m committing myself to a gentler way of thinking. Moms are superhuman superheroes, and we need to be kind to ourselves and allow ourselves the time and space to recover without expecting results overnight.
- Humble Pie, Yum. If I’m honest, I didn’t really believe that those storied “blowouts” could happen to me. I know, I know. Poop, pee, vomit… they’ve found a place in my hair (yep) and on my clothes. Nothing more to say here. Consider me humbled.
- A New Set of Milestones, Concerns, and Goals. What do my baby’s incremental weight gain, tummy time, and subsiding diaper rash have in common? These are all things that I am mulling over, concerned with, and ultimately, fist-pumping about as they continue to improve. Moreover, I’ve already congratulated myself on not losing any of her micro socks (yet), finishing a load of laundry, and, um, wearing something other than my beloved Outdoor Voices joggers. In this new reality, I think it’s healthy and important to keep your goals relative to your bandwidth, and right now, I am setting very realistic goals for myself.
- Leave Your Routine and Control at the Door. I’m a bit of a control freak and guess what? That just doesn’t fly anymore. The only routine I have now is a general guarantee that I will be nursing, changing diapers, and napping infrequently. Other than that — at a month out — I need to give into the process and know that sleep training is just around the corner!
- A Racing Mind. Despite the lack of sleep and minimal contact with the outside world, I have a lot on my mind. Am I doing enough? Am I eating the right foods to give Charlie the best breast milk? Is that even a thing? Is she breathing? :: Checks to make sure she’s breathing :: Am I talking to her enough so that she absorbs words, sounds, linguistic patterns? Is that insane that I’m even thinking about that? How do I maintain my sense of self? OMG, are those stretch marks on my boobs? … and so on. I guess I thought I’d be home, adjusting to life with a baby, with little weighing on my mind other than Charlie’s nursing schedule and my lack of sleep. I was wrong.
- Take a Moment (or Many) For Yourself — And Don’t Feel Guilty About It. Maybe this one is obvious? If it isn’t, I’m here to tell you that you are not only allowed to take a moment/breather/quick drive to Starbucks with the music blasting to grab an iced decaf latte because who are you kidding? you’re still breastfeeding!, but that you 100% should. You’ll be better for it.
- Ask for and Accept Help. A lot of my lady-mom friends impressed this upon me before Charlie’s arrival (ASK FOR HELP THEY SAID! ACCEPT HELP THEY SAID!) and yet, when my mom and in-laws were in town to HELP me, I was resistant to let go of the reigns. Instead, I thought I could do it all — breastfeed, make myself food throughout the day, tidy up, get dressed, brush my teeth (ha). It was a valiant effort in the beginning but lemme tell you, when the adrenaline wears off, you will want all the help you can get. Take it.
- I Am Becoming a Master of No-Handed Multitasking. As in, I can hold Charlie, which takes most of my hand/arm bandwidth, while texting a friend to confirm our bring-the-baby-to-lunch plans, putting bottles and various breakfast items away, reheating my coffee, and opening the door to the let the dog out. It may seem mundane, but I’m pretty amazed by my strength and ability to juggle so much at once. Literally.
- It Can Be the Loneliest Time in Your Life. Lonely, isolating, boring… I’m not trying to sound all Negative Nancy up in here, but let’s be real, it can be. Not all the time and maybe not at all for some of you reading this, but I have had my share of lonely moments in Month One. At times, it has stemmed from my feeling disconnected from my girlfriends who don’t have kids and how, all of a sudden, I’m somehow not like them anymore. Other times, I’ve felt isolated at home with the babe while my husband returns to his job, his daytime routine, and some semblance of a work-life balance. These feelings always pass, though, because they don’t compare to the love and awe I feel for my daughter. That and I am also lucky to have a crew of wonderful people in my life who, ultimately, remind me that I’m not alone — far from it. Thank you, husband! Thank you, family! Thank you, friends!
- Moms Are Straight-Up Amazing. Yes, duh, but my understanding of what it is to be a mom, how incredibly hard it is to rear a child, and how insane our bodies are to be able to bring life into this world has deepened tenfold. I bow down to every mama who’s just doing her absolute best one day at a time.