“The gospel is perfectly demonstrated through the daily labor of parenting.” ~Jen Hatmaker
I just got a call that a young mama of three that I know took her own life yesterday. She leaves behind a 4 year old, 2 year old, and an 8 week old. This topic matters. We’ve got to talk about it. We’ve got to fight it. We’ve got to save our struggling Mamas.
Several friends of mine recently had precious little babies whom they adore. It’s a beautiful thing.
And it’s freaking hard.
I don’t think we talk about that second part enough. We post newborn photos and talk about how blessed we are, but never tell people that we are wondering what happened to our lives and crying in the shower (that we can only manage to take every 4 days…).
After I had Braun, I suffered from postpartum depression, and had it not been for my friend Kelly sharing her own struggle with me and counseling me through it, I’m not sure how I would have made it trough those first 6 weeks or so.
I kept hearing people talk about how much they loved the newborn phase. Cuddling the baby and wearing pajamas all day and what a beautiful thing breastfeeding was. And that’s great for those moms who feel that way.
I did not.
I hated the first 6 weeks of being a mom. There’s no sugar coating it.
I loved that baby, don’t get me wrong. But I was a mess. I cried every afternoon. Why? I have no idea. But about 4:30 this sense of impending doom would hit me and I’d be in tears. I was exhausted. I felt trapped in the house. Chained to the baby. I had absolute hell with breastfeeding and Braun had terrible reflux. I remember thinking multiple times….is this what my life is going to be like from now on? Because I really didn’t mean to sign up for this.
If you feel that way too, you’re not alone. You’re not a bad mom. It is okay–no, it is necessary–to ask for help. Whether that is a girlfriend coming to watch the baby or talking to a counselor or taking medication, getting help is the best thing for you and for your family.
Your life won’t always look this way. One day, you’ll look around and it will feel like you can breathe again. That’s the best way I know how to describe it. It won’t come with fanfare or a big milestone. I was in my kitchen one day and the weight seemed to be gone.
You’ll be in a routine. Everyone will sleep for more than an hour at a time. You’ll be able to take a shower regularly, wear normal clothing, and set your baby down to cook dinner. And that day, when you can take that breath, will feel amazing.
(If you’re like me, the next week you’ll pee on a stick and figure out you’re in for this all over again in 9 months…)
Two little thoughts I found immensely helpful were these.
My friend Kelly told me, “Tiff, as long as you’re trying, you’re not screwing up.” That was my mantra for at least a month. I repeated that to myself probably 15 times a day. I didn’t always believe it, but I kept saying it and hoping it was true. Based on what I can tell, it was.
One of my favorite authors, Jen Hatmaker, wrote a great article called On Parenting Teens in which she explained that every mom has her strong phase. Some are wonderful with newborns. Some thrive raising toddlers. She said that raising teenagers was her jam. So even if you’re like me and would gladly skip the newborn phase, you’re going to hit a time and, just like Jen, declare it your jam. If the newborn baby stage isn’t it for you—it sure isn’t for me!–that’s okay.
So for those of you in the trenches, hang in there. Ask for help. Find a friend who has done this before and will shoot straight with you. If you don’t have one, call me. I’m serious. Get help if you need it.
Trust that God picked you to be your baby’s mom for a reason. Know that you are a good mom. Trust that things get better. They get easier. And you will all be just fine.