Motherhood consists of equal parts pain and equal parts joy, sometimes simultaneously.
During the early phases of my postpartum journey after giving birth to Marri, I was frequently asked, “how are you enjoying motherhood?” I would try to smile and politely say that being a mom is sweet. However, I would sarcastically answer in my head, “there isn’t much to enjoy when you feel like your drowning in an ocean of inadequacy and, oh yeah, no longer taking daily showers is great.”
New parents often have to learn how to navigate the sudden and drastic physical and mental changes experienced during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum. Every family faces its own set of challenges during the birth of a new baby, which commonly require a solid support system and for parents to display supernatural strength. My immediate family and friends knew that I struggled to adjust and adapt to being responsible for another life. I frequently felt inadequate, anxious, frustrated and it did not help that a constant state of exhaustion magnified my emotions.
Because of my husband's career, we spent the last 6 weeks of our pregnancy and first 4 weeks of our son's life living in separate cities. We also experienced an eventful yet slightly traumatic 36 hours of childbirth. During the early weeks of my son's life, as the dog days of being a new parent crept along, I quickly fell into a state of depression. I now attribute many of my initial responses to motherhood to postpartum depression, and after being diagnosed with this very common group of symptoms within five weeks of my baby's life, I quickly realized that I had an uphill battle that would require for me to have patience, prayer, and grace toward myself.
Parenting is hard, and it forces you to dig deep within yourself and discover strength, composure, and energy that probably prior to your baby's birth, didn't exist.Upon bringing my baby home from the hospital, I had expectations for myself to instantly be supermom. There was a learning curve that I had to conquer, however, in the beginning, I relinquished all forms of grace and patience and I was shocked that I occasionally "struggled" to take care of my baby. The humbling moments of learning to care for Marri correctly, made me grow as a Christian and as a woman. In sharing my journey; I decided that honesty would set me free from the fear of criticism or judgment from those "perfect parents," and I would openly share my challenges and struggles without apprehension.
I have no supermom mask, but I do have patience, grace, supernatural strength and determination.
My Marriman, as we affectionately call our sixth month old, sixteen-pound mush of perfection, has grown into this dynamic tiny human who forces my husband and me to become closer to each other each day and brings endless hours of joy into our lives. But I would be dishonest to say that my baby is the only one who has changed drastically in this short time frame. His mother also has grown, too. I am learning to love me through the chaos that arises from being a new mom, by genuinely embracing the woes and triumphs of parenting. This is what "Motherhood" means to me.
Motherhood is knowing that you won’t sleep for days and accepting the constant state of fatigue as your new normal.
Motherhood is when three hours of sleep starts feeling like eight hours, and 15-minute naps while the baby “sleeps” become the highlight of your day.
Motherhood is wearing spit up, baby drool and dried up pee (especially if you have a little boy), on your already two-day old dirty yoga pants, in exchange for designer perfume, lipstick, and cute earrings.
Motherhood is endless diapers, many of which the contents on the inside leak out and travel up your babies back during the MOST inconvenient of times. Welcome to the world of blpwouts.
Motherhood is watching your baby get immunized for the first time and wanting to karate kick the nurse that stabbed your baby "for their good."
Motherhood is late nights or early mornings of searching through blogs on google about moms that feel overwhelmed and exhausted: “surely it’s not just me,” you think, “or is it?”
Motherhood is saying goodbye to your social life for at least three to six months because although you need a "break" from your baby, you are too paranoid to leave them with anyone for longer than two hours.
Motherhood is watching your baby smile for the first time and feeling full of joy and excitement that this little person, in all of your flaws, thinks that you are terrific.
Motherhood is fully understanding and learning the meaning of unconditional love.
Motherhood is dressing your baby up for countless photo shoots in every outfit and teddy bear they own, to repeatedly capture the same expression across sixteen pictures of the same pose. Thank God for Icloud storage.
Motherhood is hourly play sessions that consist of repeatedly lifting your baby up and down just to hear their cute giggle non-stop despite your biceps being on fire.
Motherhood is looking into your babies eyes and seeing the best of your partner and yourself compiled into a living, breathing, human form of your heart that resides outside your body.
Motherhood is endless snuggles, hugs, and kisses from a perfect tiny human. Motherhood is my life in its state of completion, and it is the hardest most beautiful job I will ever have. The title of "mommy" forced me to level up, by inspiring an insatiable desire to DO better, BE better, and LIVE better for my son.
I struggle with parenting daily, but I am grateful to God for giving me the title of mommy and for giving me my perfect baby boy, named Marri.
Tips from WEBmd.com on coping with the STRESS of having a new baby
- Once you and your baby are ready for visitors, schedule outings and visits with friends and family. Ask them to call you often. Isolation can make depression worse, especially when it's combined with the stress of caring for a newborn.
- Get as much sunlight as you can by going outside whenever possible. Keep your shades and curtains open.
- Eat a balanced diet. If you don't feel hungry, eat small snacks throughout the day. Nutritional supplement shakes are also useful for keeping up your energy.
- Get some exercise every day, such as outdoor stroller walks. Exercise helps improve mood.
- Ask for help with preparing food and doing other daily tasks. Family and friends are often happy to help a mother with a newborn.
- Don't overdo it, and get as much rest and sleep as you can. Fatigue can increase depression.
- Join a support group of moms with new babies. An infant massage class is another great way of getting out and spending time with others whose daily lives are like yours. You will also learn new ways to bond with your baby. To find a support group in your area, talk to your doctor or click here.
- Play upbeat music throughout your day and soothing music at night.
- Create a gratitude journal.
- Pray daily and listen to podcast of your favorite sermons. Spend intimate time with Christ through a daily devotional.