It seems like yesterday sometimes. I was baffled and hurt and annoyed at my husband, while holding my brand new pink bundle. He was leaving me alone and I had this little life in my hands, that I had just delivered days before. I felt completely incapable and alone. She cried and I wasn’t sure what to do… it was a mess. I was a mess.
That was almost 13 years ago.
There are many things that veteran moms do not tell new moms about having babies. I remember being really annoyed at them for not sharing. Now, I realize that many feel like sparing details will keep pre-baby anxiety away.
My friend just had her first child, and all those memories came flooding back to me. I hugged her and told her, with all my heart, she is completely normal. And it hit me in that moment that I can share with new moms, and ALL moms, somethings they will wish that they had known… like I wished I had known.
1. Be gentle with yourself emotionally.
Your body is dealing with massive amounts of hormones. You’ve just committed an incredible feat of human strength. At first, you are filled with adrenaline and are on this incredible high, followed by an enormous low. There is nothing wrong with you: you are a mom.
On top of the ridiculous side effects of your hormones, your universe has been seriously altered. Adding a child is a joyful and scary thing all at the same time. You are in charge of another life. It is new territory. Feeling unsure or incapable or vulnerable is normal.
But remember this: feelings do not determine truth. The truth that I would love to scream from a mountain top to every mama out there is this: God specifically gave you that child. A custom ordered gift without mistake from the sovereign Creator. He will equip you to face the highs and lows of raising your baby. You are capable in His strength.
2. Be gentle with your body.
You will not feel like a human, but don’t worry, you still are. Lack of sleep and proper nutrition play into these thoughts. For those who decide to breastfeed, your energy is quite literally being sucked from your body. But above all, you just went through one of those most stressful things a body can go through.
It will take some time to feel comfortable in your skin again. Drink lots of fluids. Sleep when you can. Do not by any means think that you must start a workout regiment as soon as you are released from the hospital. Just take it easy. There will be plenty of opportunities to be a mommy martyr in the next eighteen years.
3. Be gentle with your mothering.
The instinct is there. The execution may need help. Ask if you aren’t sure. Accept that your baby is not exactly the same as your bff’s little cherub. Your bundle will have different likes and dislikes and schedule issues or non-issues.You are just learning what those issues are.
No mother starts out as their child’s expert. That takes a little time. The funny thing is, veteran moms forget that and start insisting that this is how it works best. Then new mom thinks she’s being a horrible mother, which is a difficult idea to shake once it takes root.
Listen to your doctor. Ask for advice. Pray for supernatural wisdom from God. Then take what you can use and toss the rest, because in the end, you are the mom- the earthly expert on your child.
If I could walk back 13 years and talk to first-time-mom-self, I wouldn’t talk. I would hug. I would make a meal and change a diaper and let the poor girl get a solid hour of sleep. My only words would be, “You’ve got this. God created you for this. You’ll be okay.”