It’s 3 am and it feels like the only people awake in the world are you and your baby. The silence allows your mind to race and reminds you of the load of laundry you left in the washer, the doctor’s appointment you forgot to schedule, and the insurance check you didn’t put in the mail. The weight of responsibility and the minimal sleep makes you feel a never-ending cycle of restlessness. Your mind is never quiet. Your body seldom rests.
The first few months after having a baby are arguably the most intense months of your life. There are infinite reasons to be grateful of course. Nothing can compare to the feeling of holding your little baby in your arms. To your infant, you are home and you are everything. Then you swing through the sleepless nights, the hours of screaming with no explanation, the endless piles of laundry (how does such a tiny human use so many clothes?). Your body has been torn apart and desperately needs rest. And yet, you are constantly needed and struggle to find the time to scarf down your microwaved dinner before another sleepless night. The days and nights are chaotic, draining, and at times bring you to frustrated tears. But your heart has never felt a love like this so you push on day after day.
In this period of time, I was hit with the unexpected challenge of postpartum anxiety. The unpredictability coupled with exhaustion I experienced in those months brought me to dark, lonely places at times. I thrive under routine, organization, and control of my environment – all things that I’ve had to learn to let go of as a mother. While motherhood can feel incredibly overwhelming at times, it can also feel like the most natural thing in the world. When my baby locks eyes with me and shows me her big, toothless grin, all the other noise in my mind falls away.
For those of you in this period of life (or if you feel like you’ve never completely left it) – know you will survive. These are the days you will miss. The smile on you child’s face when you wake them up in the morning, the subtle sigh of satisfaction when they give you a big bear hug, the way they grip your hand when they are scared are the moments you will hold on to. My mother once told me, “Savor the hell out of this time, even the hard moments. You will miss feeling this needed.”
Document the chaos. Be in the photos with your children. Your children will want to remember their mother, even with the tired eyes and messy hair. You are worth it, mama. WE can do this.