Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Letter to A New MOM


("Mommy's sweetie" circa 3 months old)

I wrote like the wind today, and that rarely happens. I felt my heart being poured out on the glowing LCD screen... and it made me realize that I want to record this in another place (besides my Facebook 'Sent' folder) so that I can possibly happen upon it at a later time.  It is a reply to an exchange with a friend, a mother of a baby only a few weeks old, an exchange that started in just a few simple words that totally broke my heart when her message popped up on my iPhone.  It read: "Please tell me it gets easier ;(".  This was my first real communication from her since she gave birth.  I of course replied that it did.  The below is what I wrote to a Momma who went on to say that she felt like quitting and felt like a horrible Mom. (This woman who is doubting herself, who I've known since we lived next door to each other when my husband and I first got married in 2007, was born to be a mother!  She is one of the most kind and sweet ladies I know, and I would trust her to raise my own daughter.) Gee whiz do I recall feeling like quitting... because I was out of resources and depleted of any restorative rest for weeks on end (sleep deprivation is an actual method of torture!).  Maybe this will help another new Mom, maybe it won't. I have all of 5.5 months under my Mom belt, so who am I? I just hope that some of my experiences that I share below can help to make a difference in someone's life. Some stories I read on the internet have made my day, while others have changed my life. All it took was someone posting it... so here I go. Let it fall where it will. :)

PS - I admit some embarrassing things below.  Please go easy on me.  I look forward to the day I can ask forgiveness of my sweet daughter for the times when I failed her.

My letter...

You are MORE than sane! You are being honest and the fact that you even feel like a "horrible mom" means that you are far from one. None of us are perfect... and it seems like the first lesson of Motherhood we learn is that we fail every single day at something, but we get back up and try again each day. I know Greg and I made many huge mistakes and lost our tempers at times... and we wish we could take it back, but we can't. It's OK, because I look at our parents and they made huge mistakes... but we turned out somewhat decent and we are healthy & happy and love them still! ;) That is WONDERFUL that _______ is there with you for 2 months. Praise GOD! Praise God even more that you have a husband that WANTS to be there with you two and WANTS to help. I don't know HOW single Moms do it... and Greg was such a lifesaver to me. God will give you strength to get through anything, just like childbirth... He will not give you more than you can handle. That is always what I clung to when I was having a hard day... that and looking forward to the next time or day when I was going to get some help, LOL. Take each day one at a time and before you know it, her colicky little belly will mature and you will have new and different challenges. That's not what you may want to hear, but it's the truth. Every time I talk with the Mommas here at my work who are months ahead of me they tell me that what I am going through now (Grace still gets up several times a night) will pass. EVERYTHING is a phase. That is truth that is comforting! "This too shall pass" and nothing is forever... just like the Bible says in Ecclesiastes. I used to cry my eyeballs out... like BALL LIKE A BABY while holding Grace - I was just so miserable. Sometimes that would be what shut her up and put her to sleep... I'd cry for a minute or two and when I opened my eyes it was like God gave me a little miracle and *poof* she was asleep. I am so sorry to hear that you are going through a similar situation like our newborn experience. I had a hard time looking at people's Facebooks (I had 2 friends who had babies born a week apart form Grace. One before, one after) and seeing how easy it was for them. You can imagine my frustration when I would see the Momma of a 3-week-old and 3 other kids saying, "Making cookies!" when I couldn't even wipe my own butt without a screaming baby... and FORGET eating anything before 2pm without a huge sacrifice. Then the other Momma posted a picture of her baby sleeping on her lap while sitting at a Starbucks. I was like "?!?#?#$?$?#$?@#$@%%!!!!!!" Ya know what I mean? My situation was very different. But I would tell people that and I would even whine to my doctor (he sucked by the way) and they would encourage me not to compare our family to others.

Tell me about it... I wanted to quit too!!!! I wanted to run away, but at the same time I was so in love with my little girl that I didn't know what to do with myself as soon as I got away from her for the first time. Trust me, God and nature have blessed us with something beautiful called newborn amnesia... you think it is so traumatic now that you will never forget, but you do. You really will. Even the traumatic things Greg & I do recount sometimes... the memories are numbed and you look back and say "it was worth it and I would do it again for her!"

Also, when I say I was in love with Grace... it was more of a knowledge, not always a FEELING! There were times that I disliked her and I would tell her that. (I know that sounds awful.) I would FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!! get her to sleep for a nap which was nearly impossible and the SECOND (no exaggeration) I laid my head down on the pillow she would start fussing again. I came to have major anxiety and would cringe every time I heard her make those noises. I distinctly remember telling my Dad I felt like Grace was being a "brat" that day and I felt awful saying it but I told him it was the truth.

The actual love *feeling* for your baby sometimes even takes a little while, and that's OK. I probably didn't really feel the crazy LOVE in my heart for Grace until I came out of the survival fog. If you guys are like us, we were in survival mode for a LONG time. I bled for 10 weeks after having Grace to find out I had rotting placental pieces in there... no wonder we had thrush that wouldn't go away! My body was trying to heal all SORTS of things! No wonder I didn't have the ability to do much more than survive, right? You do what is priority and let everything else fall to the side. Housework and all that jazz, who cares. That's what family and friends are for. (We'd love to come help you do any chores by the way, please let us do some when we come and visit!) Oh, and now I have a term that I call BABY LOVE DRUG. Having a child is the best drug in all the world. It gives you the HIGHEST high you will ever have in your life (and it just keeps on giving, no diminishing returns!) but it also brings some of the lowest lows. Anything worth something though takes work, sacrifice, pain and a cost. Anything truly free would not be valued the way something is when you have to pay a price.

The more you talk to Moms out there you will find out that 80% of them can relate to you on most of what you're going through... I have NO idea why Moms don't warn you about this before the baby. I guess they don't want to burst your "ignorance is bliss" happiness bubble. I was SHOCKED that it was so difficult because Greg and I are people that go above and beyond in everything that we do no matter how hard, and we could barely handle it... so how does the rest of society do this? The honest truth is that people don't always tell you about their struggles. People post the happy things and smiley pictures on Facebook. I wanted SOOO BAD to post all my miserable struggles on Facebook, but I didn't want to look like I was complaining. I had desired my beautiful baby so badly, I didn't want to look ungrateful and immature. BUT, there is definitely a NEED for that and a place for it... with friends!

My advice for today is...

* Make sure you have a good pediatrician. Greg and I are just NOW finally deciding we are not happy with ours, even though we were "iffy" about him from the get-go. If you're not in love with yours, get a new one. Looking back, someone we liked and who actually CARED about what we were going through and was attentive to Grace could have saved us a TON of stress and tears and arguments and grey hairs. We are going to be switching.

* Try an exercise ball. You're like, "Whaaaa?" Seriously, this saved our LIVES and sanity. One of my best friends was moving to LA and stopped by to meet Gracie. She just happened to have been a nanny for the past couple years to 2 babies and she just HAPPENED to have her exercise ball in her car that she had packed up on her move up there. She blew it up for us and we bounced away... Grace was happy. It is so exhausting having to hold them all the time. Grace would pretty much only sleep ON us. Preferably Greg after I would feed, he'd hold her and burp her and try to keep her upright so she could digest her food. The ball lets you sit down but keep them moving and bouncing to their heart's content. We have since retired the ball because at some point the baby needs to learn to self-soothe and go nighty night with very LITTLE work on your part because they get heavy, etc etc. So I would love to bring over the ball for you if you'd like to try it. I will blow it up for you too... it comes with a little foot pump.

* ROUTINE!! Oh my gosh I wish I had known to do this earlier!! They say that babies have very little that they know and are familiar with, so having a routine (as much as is possible) is very comforting to them. We didn't really do this with Grace until she was like 3 months old! Having a routine such as eat, play sleep, repeat... and a bedtime routine... they are very comforting to a baby, even in the beginning. I'm sure you have read about that, but if you want, give it a try and see if you notice any difference in 3 days (I've read 3 days is how long it takes to change a behavior).

I have lots of other advice from my months of experience with a sweet but sad baby, but for now the above are my little nuggets of advice for the day. Grace smiled very early on and was such a sweetheart... but there was obvious pain and discomfort going on (besides the brace she had to wear!) that just broke my heart. _____ is such a sweetheart for having to go through so much at such a young age. The poor things have to leave our warm bellies and enter a scary world! Take everyone's (including mine) advice as a grain of salt and go with what you like. TRUST your instincts... I cannot stress that enough! Even doctors... you know your baby best.<3 Mommas have a special gift of instinct, which is no surprise after the bond we have after carrying them for 9 months.<3
We love you guys so much and I hope we can come over soon. I'd like to come on a lunch break some time even just for a quick visit to bring you food or something. I remember how much a prepared meal meant the WORLD and a million dollars back then. We are super busy this weekend but were talking last night that we could come over after work. Grace is a lot easier to take out of the house these days, Praise God. Would tomorrow night work for you guys? Let me know. :)

Hugs and hugs and more hugs! You both are doing a great job!! If she's still alive, then you are a success. It's a ton of work, but it is SO exponentially rewarding. You just haven't been able to reap any harvest yet. Once you start getting smiles, giggles and she reaches for you when you come home... your heart will be SO happy.

OK I officially just wrote a book there. I need to go get this published, LOL. Hope I brought some joy or laughter or relief to your day. I'll say it again... we cannot wait to meet _____!



Post a Comment