Hi, I’m your newborn. There are some things I want you to know. Because I know that you’re struggling. I know that you’re discovering all these challenges no one told you about. I know that you can’t talk about how you feel because no one around you understands. And I’m keeping you close by my side, which makes it hard to reach out to friends or family who would understand. Sorry. But I also know that we’re an amazing team, you and I. So, these are the five things I think you should know.
- You’re going to feel more than just love. When I cry, you’ll feel terrified. You’ll feel like you don’t know what to do, and you’ll feel frustrated when you can’t fix it. You’ll feel desperate for help, sleep, and a moment to yourself. You may not even be sure you love me, right away. You’ll feel stressed out and exhausted. And if you tell anyone any of this, they’ll make a face at you like you’re a bad mom and you shouldn’t feel those things. Now that said, you’ll feel love too—a love deeper and more meaningful, than any you’ve ever imagined before.
- I will leave you paralyzed in one place. If you’re nursing, I’m going to want to be on your breast all the time. And when I’m not, I’ll need you to help me to get to sleep—preferably right on your chest. You’re not going anywhere. For the brief moments that I’m awake and not eating, I’d like you to sing to me, bounce me, dance with me, talk to me and change my diaper. Then, put me back on your breast and back to sleep. You’ll be reluctant to get out of the house for fear of me needing something. And you’ll be reluctant to have people in the house, because you’re already overwhelmed. So you won’t see much of your friends and family, for a while. And somehow, it will even feel hard to find time to see other family members living in the house. See, it’s just that you’re the best and most important thing in the world, to me. So, I plan to soak up as much mommy time as I can.
- Feed me. Yeah, breastmilk is best—I’ll get sick less, have fewer ear infections, have a lower risk of obesity and have healthier intestines. And, I love the snuggles and the sweet yummy taste. So, I really appreciate you trying. But, just so you know, I’m going to beat the crap out of you. I’ll leave your nipples bleeding. I’ll bite you, pinch you, punch you, kick you and pull your hair. I don’t really want you to die trying to breastfeed me, though. If you’ve struggled through weeks of pain, and you don’t even have time to spend hanging out with me because you’re constantly nursing, pumping and bottle-feeding, it’s OK to stop or to supplement with formula. I’ll still love you and be healthy. And we both may be happier if we get to spend some time together and if it helps you to avoid depression. As long as you feed me, you’re still a good mom, and I’ll still love you with all my heart.
- I’ll test your limits with sleep. I’ll wake you up over-and-over at night. You’ll go months, feeling like a sleepless zombie, without more than a few hours of sleep in-a-row. Ha! I’ll need you to pace back-and-forth across the room for HOURS trying to get me to sleep. And, the moment you put me down—I’ll scream bloody murder—which will leave you filled with terror at naptime. Then, after ages of work to get me down, I’ll wake up after just 30 minutes. You’ll repeat this over-and-over for months. I just love being held by you and you’re the one thing I want when I wake up.
- I will transform you. Voila, stretch marks, some extra chub, and huge breasts… that are soon-to-be, let’s just say, “deflated”. You’ll have circles under your eyes, unstyled hair, spit-up down the front your shirt and splotches of nail polish on just three of your nails. I’ll also turn you into a fierce mama bear who kind of hates everyone for a little while. But, I will forever change your life, giving you a new purpose, and a sense of pride, joy and love you couldn’t have ever imagined. You’ll love me so much and I’ll be so important to you that you’d give your life for me. I’ll make you “mom”.
Well, and here’s the thing. All of those struggles aren’t even going to matter much to you in a few months. All that will matter is that I’m healthy and happy. We both will be. You’ll find your stride soon. But for now, thanks for loving me so much, even though you’re scared and silently struggling. You being “mom” to me is the best and most special honor and privilege in the world. You are the single most influential and important person in my life. And being “mom” will be the best thing you’ve ever done too.
OK, so now you know what you need to know. It’s time for me to get back to pounding on you and for you to get back to snuggling me. I love you, mom.
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