Iris was about a month old. I had just put her to bed after what I thought was a full feeding, a clean diaper, a burped baby, but she was crying. My baby doesn’t just cry to cry. She cries when she needs something. For that, I’m grateful for, but sometimes that “need” is a puzzle to me.
I picked her up, carried her over to my bed and rocked her while Alonso watched the tears roll down my cheeks. “They don’t prepare you for this. There’s no class I’ve taken that has prepared me for this. I have no idea what I’m doing! I don’t know what she needs!”
And every time I sang this sad, lonely song to Alonso, he would tell me, “You’re the only person in the world that knows her best. Stop googling everything. Stop asking questions. Use your intuition. You know what to do.”
As much as that helped, it didn’t. He gave me the confidence I needed to continue mothering my baby as best as I could but those words also made me feel alone. I wanted Google to fix my problems. I wanted Google to soothe my crying baby. I wanted Google to understand what she needed. And for the most part, it actually helped a lot with the basics. But when it came down to MY baby, nothing and no one knew her like I did.
I felt alone. I felt like every mother I knew had it figured out. “So-and-so” probably knows what she’s doing. She looks like she’s got all of her ducks in a row. Chances are, she doesn’t. Because just like me, she didn’t take a class and she wasn’t handed the ultimate new baby survival book (if there’s is one, please let me know).
The truth is, NONE of us have it figured out. We like to post the fun and cute things on social media, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but sometimes it’s healthy to pull back the magic curtain and show the world that it’s not perfect and it’s hard.
Growing up, I would hear people talk about how hard and beautiful motherhood was. We all heard it. But WHY? Why was it so hard?? That was the ultimate question to me. What made it hard? I wanted to know!
I’ll tell you. From my personal experience with a one month old.
If you’re exclusively nursing, you’re the only one that can feed your baby. You’re the one up in the middle of the night, sometimes four or five times, for an HOUR at a time. You’re the one that nurses in public and gets the uncomfortable stares. Nursing in itself is hard. In the beginning, your baby might fight it. It will be a battle to feed your hungry baby. Your baby will cry, and with every cry your heart will break. It might be painful. So painful, that you feel like giving up. (Trust me, that gets better real quick).
Sometimes, you’re going to want to some hubby time or some personal time. You’ll put your baby to bed thinking you’ve got the next few hours alone with your sweetheart or to yourself and BAM. Baby’s awake. And that’s that. You do what you’ve gotta do and you’ll try again tomorrow.
You’ll get SO. PARANOID. Even when the baby’s asleep, you won’t be able to sleep soundly like you used to because your internal baby alarm will wake you up to check on the baby periodically. Throughout the day, your mind is running running running thinking of your baby’s safety and it’s exhausting. As if the physical exhaustion wasn’t enough.
Your baby needs you. YOU. As beautiful as that is, it becomes very demanding and you’ll feel like a slave to this tiny, precious human. Forget schedules. You’re on your baby’s time now. It doesn’t matter that you’re twenty minutes late for church or in the middle of cooking dinner, your baby is hungry and unless you want a screaming baby, you’ve got to stop what you’re doing and take care of their needs.
I could go on and on, talking about blow outs and spit up on your clothes, how scary bathtime can be or how painful it is to hear them cry… But every mother’s situation is different and there will be different kinds of “hard” for her. These are on the tip top of my list. And that list is long.
Here’s the thing, though. Being a new mother is hard and it doesn’t help feeling like you’re the only one that thinks so. But it is AMAZING. Mothers are the modern version of the real-life Superwoman.
I sacrifice so much for my little girl, every day and I love it. Through my tears and my frustrations, I love it. So many times, I’ll wake up in the early hours of the morning to take care of my little babe and I can barely keep my eyes open, but the second I pick her up and hold her in my arms, my heart feels full. I can barely pry my eyes open, but I smile. There’s no one else in the world that can make me smile that early in the morning and at that level of exhaustion.
The relationship between you and your baby is like any other relationship. You have to work for it. You may love that person so dearly but even so, you have to consistently foster that relationship. And if you love that person, truly love them, every ounce of effort is worth it.
These words I’ve written are not to scare anyone out of motherhood or even to educate anyone. I’ve written these words, mother to mother because I don’t want anyone to feel alone like I did.
The hard part is hard. Let’s not forget that. It doesn’t mean we’re complaining, it means we refuse to ignore the immense sacrifice we lay down for such a big love. It’s truly beautiful what we do for our little one’s. To forget that, is to miss the meaning of motherhood and parenthood entirely.