I see you there, wondering about soothers and bottles and ounces of breastmilk. I see your cluttered home and the hospital bands strewn across your dresser, or still on your arm because you don’t remember what day it is.
I know the horror you feel when someone tells you you need to “bring him in” to some appointment. How does one leave the house with this tiny thing and the enormous amount of odds and ends he needs?
I hear your heartbeat strong and warm and sudden when you wake in the night before your little one. “Is he ok?” you wonder. I feel your sore nipples and aching back. Is he latching? Is he ok?
I feel your exhaustion and your panic over whether you’re getting it all right. Life “before” is like a far off dream. A dream where how well you did was so neatly measured and reported back to you. Paychecks, praise, payments received. A completely checked off to-do list.
Now your very doing is wrapped up in living. All your doing is poured into hoping that you’re doing it right. Because right matters, right? It brings the ounces past birth weight, the wet or soiled diapers, or the stretched sleepers because he’s growing well.
It matters because all your love and anxiety were carefully knit together in this tiny warm bundle that you pushed or received into this world. And it matters because your love is so big it makes your heart ache with the weight of this tiny life that is dependent on you. How deeply, how ardently, how strongly you want to get it right.
Can I tell you something, dear new mom? You are.
And since you just asked, I’ll tell you how I know.
Because unlike the measured world outside your front door, this little world is rocked and moved by love. And you have so much of it pounding in your heart right now. Because in this chaotic world of birthing and raising little people, the measurement of success is something far more precious, far more gentle, far more lasting than any measure you’ve ever known.
It’s that little face on your arm that slows down time and makes your heart overflow.
It’s the love that brings your milk in and lets it flow out.
It’s love that grows bigger than the frustration and helps you try that latch again.
It’s love for your little one that moves you to pump or try formula and — love for them, knowing what they need, that stops your ears to the criticism.
It’s your growing love that makes you get up in the night every hour, then face the day.
It’s your love that makes you worry.
It’s your love that makes you wonder if you’re doing it right.
And I know that love fuels your worries. I know. And there is still so much to do and decide. I know. But just for this moment, can you let it fill your weary heart? Let it soften your fears and mute out all those voices. Let it warm your worried soul and bring a smile to your face. For a moment, just let yourself love.
The very fact that you worry, the fact that you try, the fact that it matters so much, the fact that it all threatens to consume you–simply shows your love. And that’s ok. It’s all this that shows that yes, you are doing it right.
Will it hurt? Yes. Will it be hard? Yes. Will breastfeeding or sleep training or weaning take more work and persistence than you ever thought possible? Yes. Will you think you can’t make it? Yes! Will you stare into the mirror and wonder where your body went and miss your old life terribly? Yes.
Is that ok? I’m telling you, yes.
You didn’t just birth a baby. You birthed a mother. And they are both growing. They are both beautiful. And gradually, with grace, you’ll be at peace with the feeding and sleeping and weaning and your changing body. For now, settle in and enjoy his soft little self, soak in your husband becoming a daddy, and let yourself be what you are – a new mom.
More than anything else, your baby needs to know you’re there. And you are. Ask for help when you need it and gently close the front door when you don’t. Snuggle in with your baby, let him feel your skin, and be enveloped in your love. And let all the rest go. You know what he needs, and he couldn’t be in better arms than his mom’s.
Why? Because he is so completely, thoroughly, excellently loved.
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.
(Photo credit to Omar Lopez on Unsplash)