When I think back on my first few months of motherhood I am sometimes ashamed to admit that it was less than perfect–that I was less than perfect. I had this image of me taking home my son and him crying only when he needed to be fed, changed, or burped. At the time, I was very idealistic. As you know, my precious little boy appeared to be so unhappy in his own body and spent what seemed like 3 months straight
crying screaming. To say that I handled colic and reflux with ease would be a lie. I feel like I may have spent just as much time crying as he did. Mostly, I felt like a failure.
In reality, I was totally unprepared for how motherhood would change me. I don’t think anyone is. I had this whole “I’ll learn on the job” attitude which was great but I wish I had talked more with other moms about the realities of being a mother more than what the best swaddling blanket was for newborns. In that spirit, here are my thoughts on the first couple months.
Do not be afraid to admit you are struggling with your emotions.
Having a baby–and an extremeley fussy one at that completely rocked my emotional world. Days after we moved to our new home some of my family members came by to meet Jax for the first time. He spent most of the time fussing and screaming with me utterly embaressed that I could not soothe my own child. Again, I felt like a failure. Later I would find out that those same family members were telling everyone I was suffering from postpartum depression. At first I was hurt that people in my own family would choose to gossip about this—because there is nothing a stressed out, sleep deprived first time mom needs more than people talking about her mental well being. Did I have postpartum depression? No. Did I have a serious case of the baby blues? Absolutely. I never said anything to this family member because if that is what she thinks she observed, that is fine. As a culture, we need to talk more about the mental and hormonal struggles women face during those first few months of motherhood. There were so many moments where I felt like I couldn’t handle what was being thrown at me and I just needed a small break. I am lucky that I had a great support system in Reggie and he encouraged me to communicate any and every feeling I was having–both positive and negative. I think because of my husband I came out on the other end of the colic tunnel with an “I can do anything” spirit. Because seriously if dealing with colic, reflux, and a move in the first few months of our baby’s life doesn’t test a marriage, I don’t know what does.
Look to the future but appreciate the present. The tough part is over before you know it.
Just like our birth story, the first few months of Jackson’s life is part of his larger story. Reggie’s mom told me that her friend assured her when she was in month 6 of my husband’s colic that babies with colic are kind adults because they are very sensitive. My MIL remembered scoffing at this statement because, let’s face it, after 6 months of colic it is hard to believe. But as it turns out that woman was absolutely correct. My husband is incredibly kind in addition to being intelligent and still very sensitive. I am not saying that babies without colic won’t be kind because let’s face it, they already are by relieving their parents from 3 months of stress. But I see those qualities already in my dear Jackson. Just last night as I was nursing him to sleep, I started crying thinking about how much he had already grown. Almost as if he could sense my emotion he reached up with his hand and rubbed my face as if to say “it is okay mom, I love you too.” Love that sweet boy.
Stop trying to be perfect
At some point during the first three months, I stopped trying to get him to sleep where I wanted him to, stopped trying to shove my boob in his mouth every time he cried and instead just held my son and rocked him. I stopped feeling like a failure and started realizing that babies cry. Sometimes they cry for no reason. And that is okay. Some days he takes great naps and I can get done all of the little tasks I have planned. But some days he wants to be held all day. Each day I am walking to fine line of allowing myself grace for my mistakes while at the same time pushing myself to be the best possible mother for Jackson.
Each day gets better. Just this morning I was thinking about how truly happy I am and how easy our day to day routine has become. I remember in the beginning I thought this day would never come. But it is here and I have never, ever been happier in my whole life.