Here we are—in the throes of life right after delivering a baby. The fourth trimester where the days are hard and the nights are long. When everything in your body hurts and everything is demanded from you. Your heart, laid bare in the form of a little baby girl, wrapped in a swaddle. The second time you’ve had a piece of your soul chipped off, shaped into its own being, and sent out into the world separate from you.
There’s so much logistical and strategic advice thrown at you throughout pregnancy. From customized ads on your social media feed targeting you for the latest baby stroller to Pinterest boards filled with enough inspiration and tips to make your head spin. But in this moment, I want to throw any advice out the window and just speak to your heart.
I know you prepared for this. This isn’t your first rodeo—so you prepped your house a little differently, focusing less on the matching nursery and more on the practical things one needs to take care of a newborn.
You purged out the clutter and made freezer-ready meals for these blurred-together days. You made plans and bought new toys for your oldest to keep them occupied—or maybe more accurately, to let them know they are still and always will be your baby, even if there’s a new one in your arms.
You also prepared your heart for the unforeseen that you can’t logistically prepare for. Like, how breastfeeding will go. How you and your husband will handle two littles instead of one. How to survive on minimal sleep. How you’ll bond with a newborn while potty training a toddler.
Whatever unique challenge you are facing, I know you are also being incredibly hard on yourself by pressuring yourself to quickly learn and adapt. You are missing a full night’s sleep, your boobs hurt and you are not exactly loving the deflated balloon that was your bursting stomach just a few weeks ago.
Your emotions will be all over the place. And that’s okay.
It’s a vulnerable thing, having a child. An audacious thing actually—to make and grow and send a human being out into the world. To affect the world, to make friendships, to make mistakes, to influence and be influenced by culture.
There’s so much pain and mess in the world. And you, now, in these early days after labor, are hyper-aware of all of them. And you wish to wrap yourself around this precious baby to protect her and keep her. Much like you did for nine months.
So I’m writing to you now to invite you to remember a few things:
Your feelings of raw emotion can feel all-consuming, but remember that you are more than what you feel.
Remember that the strange loneliness that can settle in your heart at a 2am feeding usually disappears by the morning.
Remember that this goes by so, so fast so try not to wish away the hard parts too much. Constant diaper changes, hourly feedings and spontaneous spit-ups are a small price to pay for the fleeting snuggles that you get with your newborn.
You will need to take a nap, just like your newborn. And that’s okay.
Remember that your emotions can run wild in this season. You might be feeling overwhelmed and lonely. The newborn routine can be grueling and it tests the limits of even the most patient person or the strongest marriage.
When you find yourself at your wit’s end, crying on the bathroom floor because of how hard this is or mortified at how you just snapped at your husband out of nowhere, find a way to get some sleep.
No, really. Humble yourself and ask for help so you can take a nap.
We are all monsters when we are running on a handful of non-consecutive hours of sleep. You are a fantastic human being, but you are miserable to be around when you are over-exhausted. The sky might feel like it’s falling but if you just take some time to sleep, you’ll wake up to find that it was just a light rain shower or that you have the strength to lift it up again.
This “new normal” is going to feel more “new” than “normal” for a little while—and that’s okay.
Remember that This. Is. New. You’ve been a mom of one for almost three years, but you have only been a mom of two for a few weeks. You will make mistakes, you will grieve the season of life when it was “just the three of you,” you will wonder how in the world anyone can have more than two kids. Life will feel like a flat-out mess in some moments.
But remember what you’ve learned about motherhood: we’ve been built to figure it out as we go. You’ve faced challenges and have heard other moms say, “I don’t know how you do it,” and you’ve felt the same way looking at other mamas, too. Our minds and hearts have been wired to figure out how to flourish, how to make it work.
A mother’s resolve is one of the strongest forces in the world because it is refined in some of the hardest circumstances that the human race has to offer. Just be patient with yourself in the process. Mama, you’ll get this. You’ve got this. You’ll be okay.