Another version of this post originally appeared on Andrea’s blog, Good Girl Gone Redneck.
Dear New Mommy,
It’s going to be okay, I promise.
I want to say how excited I am for you. You’re a mother! Imagine that. Look at the child you hold in your arms and think of how you will raise him or her over the coming years and just know that baby belongs to you.
And no, nobody wants to think of a child as a possession. Of course not. But sometimes, you’ll look over at her and think to yourself – she’s mine. And you can’t help but remind yourself that you will always belong to her, as well. Even if she doesn’t know it yet!
Please remember that the bond you’re not sure you’re feeling will come. Even when you’re tearing your hair out, covering your ears, and have tears flowing down your face – remind yourself that it will happen. You’re not the only one out there looking at her new baby and thinking—“Oh, man, what have we done!?”
And for those of you who feel that connection instantly, it’s pretty amazing, isn’t it? To just know. Swear that you know. And still, I ask you, please don’t judge. For what comes easily to you may not for some, and what you’re having difficulties with in these early days may be a drop in the hat for the person you’re judging. To each her own. Remember, we’re all really in this together.
New mommy, please know that the baby blues don’t last forever. And if you’re feeling them for what seems like too long, or if family and friends sound well-meaning to you and you just want to scream at them to get the heck out of your way and take your baby with them, please, seek help.
Speak to someone. It’s perfectly alright to reach out. Don’t let your life and these early days with your little one slip away. Ask your husband, your partner, your mother, your friend. Ask them if you sound like you. Promise them you won’t get mad if they say no. And then don’t worry, you will get mad, and you’ll probably cry. But that’s okay. You’re taking the steps you need to take.
Put aside all of those parenting books. Some will be right, some will be wrong, and some of them you’ll want to throw out the window while your baby is crying loudly and cannot be soothed. Join a mommy group. Find an online community. A playgroup. And yes, I do mean a playgroup – even for your newborn baby. Because playgroups at that age are for YOU, momma. Not your baby!
And to the older moms, the veterans out there, let us not forget where we, ourselves, have been. When you see the mom with the diaper bag, screaming baby, and cart of groceries, offer to help her take the cart to her car. Lend her the extra set of hands that she so badly needs. And someday she will be able to pay it forward. Even if for the time being it feels like that is so so very far away. It may feel like it will never happen.
But trust me, new mommy. It will. I have been where you are. And now I have an 8-year-old daughter who is the light of my life, the pain in my behind, and a little bit of everything else that goes with both of those. And I look back and say to myself, my goodness, we made it. I survived. You will, too.
Andrea is a native New Yorker living in NC who has become quite accustomed to wearing flip-flops year-round. An LCSW, she works part-time, benefitting her social media addiction, and volunteers regularly for several non-profit organizations helping women in need of support. Andrea has been published on sites like Carolina Parent, Postpartum Progress, Scary Mommy and Midlife Boulevard. You can also find her at her own website, Good Girl Gone Redneck, writing about her life as a mom, her family, important causes, and incredible books you absolutely must read.