Saturday, November 23, 2013

Life as a First-Time Mom

First-time motherhood is unlike anything else in this world.

The fears and concerns you are riddled with make you wonder why you ever wanted this in the first place. At least for those first few weeks. Before they smile up at you and start reacting, and you remember... that's why.

You've been so wanting to make a dent in this world, that you end up realizing it might leave a dent in you before you're done. And that this little person relying on you for literally every single need and want just might be the death of you.

It's pretty surreal. You wonder if you'll fit in with the other moms. You watch them at the park. You wonder how they maneuver and catch things all 4 of their kids are doing. You marvel at their impeccable hair and skin while you feel like you're rolling in dirt.

You don't want to make a wrong move. Even changing your own baby's diaper in front of mastered mothers you feel your hands shaking and suddenly wonder if you're doing it all wrong as they stare down at you.

But the reality is... they look back at you with fondness and good memories of their own kids at that time. They aren't looking down at you, they're looking at the cute baby face that no one can get enough of.

The difference is, they know how hard it is. They know they survived it, sometimes just barely. They have sweet empathy for you. They want to tell you it's going to be okay, but they remember how they blew that off when they were you. Thinking the poop, spit-up, and laundry would never end.

Then they had a 2nd... and a 3rd... and everything's in a whole new perspective to them now. While you wish you were them, having it all "figured out", they wish they were you back at the beginning before 4 kids when it was easier and they still had some of their body left.

Hence why comparing continues to just be a burden to everyone. We just need to stop. And literally smell the roses. Because where we are all at right now is good. Very, very good.


There are days when life seems to just barrel on past.

In the midst of the streams of poop and spit-up and mess that you feel will never end, you realize suddenly that life is flying by.

While you're so busy changing diapers, grabbing burp cloths, feeding baby at an almost-constant rate, and washing baby items so much you're losing your mind... it strikes you that your baby is suddenly 5 months old and this is crazy.

Even though everyone tells you to savor the moments because it all goes by in the blink of an eye, and you are genuinely being intentional about savoring it and enjoying your baby, it still doesn't help.

You glance back and think "WHAT?!?!" How on earth is he already 5 months old?

I sure can't believe it.

This new mom stuff is mega hard. Crazy challenging. And hard to savor the moments and the sweet life joys because you're being pulled in so many new exciting crazy directions that you can barely remember what it is to breathe.


Life has dramatically altered. And yet, there's so much that's still the same for me, and I'm super grateful. It was important for me to feel like myself again after about 8-10 weeks of turned-upside-down-craziness.

Elijah has become an additional piece of our family that seems so natural, it's hard to explain. I can't really remember life before him, even though we had quite a long journey until he came along.

Life as a first-time mom is just totally surreal. That's the best way to describe it. For me, I'm older and more easily tired. I fight Fibromyalgia and laugh sometimes that I ever wanted to do this, while I would also never change it for the world.

People who tell you parenting is the hardest and yet best, most rewarding thing you'll ever do, know what they're talking about.

I remember thinking I understood. That with all my questions and watching so many parents so closely, and with babysitting, that I at least somewhat got it.

To a degree, that's still true. I was more prepared than I would have been otherwise. But I didn't really understand or fully get it.

Now... my days are busy and full, in ways I never could have imagined.

I feel an exhaustion further deep into my bones than I knew was possible.

I physically ache for my baby when he's not with me, even when I'm utterly grateful for the break and glad he's not with me at that moment. It's strange. To physically ache for him while also mentally being so happy to have a break. And fighting guilt because I think I shouldn't feel that way, but whatevs, I'm going to sip this hot chocolate and stare at a journal at Starbucks and breathe deep because it's baby-quiet.

There's so much joy and such a sense of responsibility that sometimes you just stare at your baby in awe and can't process how this is your life. Not showering. Forgetting that it's been 24 hours since you brushed your teeth. Going through more physical pain and challenges than you could have ever imagined to bring him into this world.

Going through the ringer of emotions watching him fight for his life for 11 days in the NICU.

Getting to finally care for him for the first time. Feeding and burping him for the first time when he was about a week old. Changing his diaper for the first time several days after he was born. Watching other people soothe him and learning to be okay with that because it seemed to make him more okay with a variety of people holding him 5 months later.

Watching him smile for the first time. Hearing his first laugh. Watching him roll over and cheering so loudly you thought you might rattle the house to the ground. Then wanting him to stop because he's turning over every time you lay him down and he gets mad and you can't get anything done and you want him to slow down on that growing thing while also so happy he's developing properly and hitting those milestones.

Then there are the more personal things. Still wearing the maternity camisoles or the nursing bras, even months past nursing. Lack of attention to tweezing facial hair or highlighting your hair. And oh golly, how little that stuff actually matters anymore. But you want so badly to fit in and look good, but really, look at that cute baby!! 

Life becomes about this little one who relies on you for every single want and need. Some days feel like all I do is feed him, burp him, change his diaper, clean up his spit-up, talk to him, sing to him, read to him, play with him, console him, etc etc. But I know this is all worthwhile and has a lasting effect so even in those constant-never-get-a-minute-to-myself moments, I'm grateful.

And also because I go back in time and read posts like this one about longing to be a mommy. {Ironically written just weeks before I got pregnant....}

Though the truth is I struggle to feel like because I waited 13 years for this and longed for a child for soooo long that I should be 100% joyful all the time!! I feel guilty if I'm not totally happy. I love Elijah so much, but there are just long, hard days where things feel sad, overwhelming, and bleak.

I didn't think I'd feel that way. I know some of it is hormonal. I'm thankful for my OB doctor giving me an anti-depressant two days after his birth when she could tell I was struggling, especially with him in the NICU. I'm thankful my regular doctor told me to stay on it until at least 6 months because of all the body changes, hormonal changes, and struggles that come with being a new mom. I would have gone off it earlier if she hadn't said that, because I had no idea this would happen to someone like me.

I feel sometimes like we as Christians think it's a bad thing to be on something like an anti-depressant, and I think that's wrong. We need to do away with misconceptions, like that it's a spiritual thing, because that's just not always true.

Though honestly, for me right now, I am fighting a bit of a spiritual battle, on top of everything else. Some hormonal, some just general life questions, some just related to our hard start. But I know God is taking me through this season of questioning for a reason. Perhaps because once Elijah is older, I can help him to understand what I've learned through this process.

Part of that is, that I love being his mom. Wouldn't trade it for anything, no matter what. That there were hard days, but soooo many good moments and good days mixed in. That the good make the bad worth it. So worth it. That I will always love him, no matter what. That God was teaching me what first mommyhood really is so I could have more compassion and grace for other moms in the trenches.

That I realize just how much I need my Savior Jesus. That I realize more now what a sacrifice it was for God to send his only Son to the cross to die.

That even as I struggle through the burp cloths, diaper explosions, and rushing around to make sure we have everything he might possibly need before we go anywhere... that my heart is so very full, so very happy, and I would do anything for this little boy. That I know when he's a man someday, I'll look back in awe at these early days and how fast they went. That when he's a man, I'll be even more grateful for the time I had to train him up in the way he would go.

I love being a mom. It truly is the hardest and best thing I've ever done.

*Please keep in mind this post is meant to share my first-time mom experience and talk about the good & the bad. In no way do I mean this to offend any non-parents or make anyone feel disheartened for not having kids. I remember having been there. Please do not be discouraged - your life is very meaningful even without children!! Just keep impacting the kids that are in your life! I know the feeling, and believe me, this is not meant to discourage you. Hugs!*

1 comment:

Mary @ Giving Up On Perfect said...

BEAUTIFUL. And so true. I'm getting ready to do this again and it's been so long...terrifying! :) I'm so glad you shared ALL of this.