Dear New Mom,
You were oblivious of me, watching you from across the room, as you wait for your husband get a haircut. In fact, you seemed oblivious to pretty much everything around you, except for the young infant on your lap. I watched you kiss your baby, burrowing your face into your baby’s neck, inhaling his milky scent. You remind me of myself, four years ago, when my whole world revolved around my daughter’s every waking moment. I watched you from across the room, patting your baby's back, occasionally adjusting the little burp cloth around his neck. You coo and he gurgles back at you. It’s beautiful to watch– this delicate dance between mother and child.
New mom, I know your whole world right now is your baby; there is not much room for anything else in these first few months. I know the days blur into each other, melting into sameness. I know it’s tough– those sleepless nights that leave you feeling dead; the long days you manage to sleepwalk through. You wonder why nobody ever warned you about this all-consuming stage of early motherhood. You learn the true meaning of exhaustion, in those grueling first few weeks. I still remember those first few weeks of my daughter’s life, and the rare mix of elation and exhaustion that completely consumed me. I remember how long the days seemed to me when I was alone in the house, with her as my sole companion. I remember crying in the bathroom when I finally got a moment alone; my out-of-whack hormones causing postpartum blues. It occurred to me that the rhythm of my life had gone; her needs taking precedence over mine’s. I remember the skipped meals, the days spent in milk-stained Pajamas. Above all, I remember the utter sense of social isolation that comes with being cooped up all day long at home with a newborn. It doesn’t matter if you’ve waited, and longed for that child your whole life. You experience a plethora of emotions ranging from ecstatic happiness to deep hopelessness. Having a child changes you forever, period. Suddenly, your body is not yours anymore; you have to share it with this little bundle of needs and wants. You feel your old self retreating into the backdrop and a new self emerges: this strange “mom” person. Needless to say, it was an intense period of my life. In those first two weeks, I left childhood and all childish inclinations, and leaped towards adulthood.
But I promise it will get easier. This baby, who wakes up every two to three hours to feed, will eventually sleep through the night. One morning, you’ll wake up from your well- rested sleep, feeling better and eager to engage with your baby. I guarantee that you will know the true meaning of exhaustion; but I also guarantee that you will know the true meaning of Love. Every day, there will be something new to discover; and it will be like a gradual falling, deeply, irrevocably in love. Nothing else compares. So don’t beat yourself up for not being perfect. Be kind to yourself. Rest when you can. Eat. And when your partner gets home, hand him the baby and take that long warm bath that you deserve. Don’t strive to be Supermom. Above all, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Needing help will not make you any less of a mother. I wish somebody could have said this to me when I was a new mom. No matter, I am saying this to you now.
Remember, that to everything, there is a season. There comes a time in a woman’s life when she feels that pull towards motherhood. I have witnessed it in myself and I have seen it in my close women friends. When we become mothers (or fathers), we take a leap of faith into the unknown. We leave forever our childish inclinations. The first child is our baptism of fire into this strange new world of parenthood. That child will initiate us into a world of sleepless nights, diaper changes and round-the-clock feedings. The nights will be long; the days even longer. The world as you know it has changed forever. This is the season for mothering (or fathering). Accept it, embrace it, savor it. There will be time for your own pursuits later. For like the passage of the seasons, this too shall pass. One day, our children will leave our side and make their way into the great big world out there. One day, our arms will be empty. All that will be left are the memories; of the child we once cradled in our arms.