For many expecting parents, pregnancy brings unimaginable joys while friends and family gather to celebrate the impending arrival of a new life. For me, pregnancy represented a scary and uncertain transitional time in my life, where most of the time I felt alone and afraid (the majority of these fears were self-induced). I did have family and friends who were excited about my son’s arrival, but even this did not happen until a few months before his birth, mostly because I was uncertain in my ability to be a mother, and my doubts kept me from celebrating the life growing inside of me and left me in the dark hiding. If I only knew then what I know now— that I am a strong, independent, confident woman, and a damn good mother— if I had these facts accessible during my pregnancy, I wouldn’t have given a second thought to any judgments others might cast upon me…mainly because I wouldn’t care. I would have worn my bump proudly and publicly.
I didn’t gain a lot of weight during pregnancy, and I was able to put off telling people until the very end where it was either me disclosing my pregnancy, or me showing up with a newborn 6 weeks later. Once I told all of my friends and family, most of them (with the exception of one person who was unable at that time to be supportive) came forward to support me, listen to me and celebrate with me. However, as many of my fellow mama’s know, a good majority of those whom you considered your friends pre-baby are nowhere to be found in the months following the birth.
I now understand the saying, “it takes a village to raise a child” because it is important for the mother to have a big support system of people who are on-call and ready to help her. For me, I had my mom who was here for the first six weeks and my sister and her boyfriend who up until three months ago lived only 8 blocks away from us (now they live in London). The rest of my family is scattered throughout the states, so unfortunately they were not able to help during those early months, or really get to know Elijah. Motherhood is such an interesting contradiction, on one hand it is the biggest blessing in the world (my opinion, although I am sure it is shared amongst many other mama’s out there) and the love you feel for your little one is truly indescribable…however, it can also be incredibly lonely because you are left to navigate the ups and downs, late night feedings, healing body, swelling and bleeding breasts and exhaustion alone. You mourn the loss of your old life and many of your friends. Things that used to be simple tasks like taking a shower or running errands become complicated activities that you feel accomplished and PRODUCTIVE to complete.
A few months after my son was born, almost every friend I had with the exception of a very special few totally disappeared. There were no check-in text messages, no phone calls, no visits. Being a new mother, I found myself completely immersed into my new role, and meeting the constant needs of my son. It was difficult for me to find the time to reach out to friends, and honestly, if I did have the time I was exhausted and would rather nap or do laundry. I get it— being around a baby isn’t easy, and there are things people would rather be doing than hanging out with a new mama and her screaming baby. But, remember, the adjustment isn’t easy for your friend, and while she’s super busy and oh-so-exhausted– send her a text or stop by for a visit, let her know you’re thinking about her and that you care. Bring her coffee, or lunch. Offer to watch the baby so she can take a shower or take a walk outside for 10 minutes alone because one day you might be that new mama, and I guarantee you will want someone to do these things for you.
Now that I am in the flow of parenthood, and really enjoying this amazing phase of toddlerhood with Elijah, it’s easier for me to look back fondly in memory of those people who are now a part of my incredible past. Even if we no longer speak, thank you, thank you for being part of my experience, for being there during a transitional and defining moment in my life even if you couldn’t be there after I became a mother, thank you for comforting me while I was in the process of becoming— because I did need you, and I do appreciate you.
If I could give any advice to new mama’s who are in or will be in my position it is this: you are a strong, incredible and capable human being— you are in the process of becoming an amazing mother or you already are one, do not let others tell you otherwise. Do not be deterred by the loss of friends, instead celebrate your former friends for being a part of your experience, for helping you to learn a life lesson and grow, and now surround yourself with positive, happy people who will inspire you to take the necessary steps to live the life you want to live. Always remember, YOU are the person who is in charge of your own feelings, no one can take that power away from you unless you allow them to.