1. Welcome to the perfect storm: Imagine you just took the world’s longest flight, then got your ass kicked in a street fight, and you now have the most critical job to do in the history of the world. You look at your beautiful baby and think: Holy shit, I have no A game, how will I ever do this…. and a B game is unacceptable.
Well, truth is, the B game IS acceptable. Your instincts are intense b/c they had to be that way when you were, say, a cave-dwelling berry-gathering new mom. But you are safe, your baby is safe, give yourself a break on the small stuff. (Side bar, I remember when my firstborn was 2 months old and a potential sister-in-law told me how her sister makes all her own toys; they don’t have any store-bought toys in the house. I distinctly remember thinking: “Oh my gosh, How am I gonna make my own toys on top of everything else…?” What on earth drove me to sink to peer pressure like that I have no idea - must’ve been the intense hormones mixed with Type A personality. Do your best. Enjoy your baby. Think positively. And when someone raves about making their own toys, an acceptable response can be, “Bully for you.”
2. You will be disappointed by people. The reality is that no one knows where you’re coming from. Your experience was entirely singular and unique… so when someone you love says something jarring, hurtful, or even irrelevant, you can begin to feel isolated.
On the other hand, your experience was entirely singular and unique. (Yay!) Perhaps that’s one of the factors that creates the instant bond between you and your baby. You went through an indescribable event together. No one else was in on it.
3. You will feel like a failure. Something will go wrong, in the birthplan, the breastfeeding, or that first day home.
There’s really no silver lining to this. But the band plays on to the beat of the caretaking drum, and there’s no real time to process your disappointment. Time, distance, and gratitude for your child are a cure for many ills.
4. The trumpet will sound, and you will be changed….Your body, your priorities, your relationships. You don’t get back to normal – the best you can hope for is to get back to a new normal.
What can I say? No good deed goes unpunished? Anything of this magnitude is going to leave a mark. Think of it as a tattoo you opted to get for the sake of posterity. Every woman is permanently changed, inside and out from having a child. And God help that child if she isn’t.
5. There is no end to your state of overwhelmed-ness that first week, month, year. I was literally sleeping in pools of blood, sweat, and breastmilk. It wasn’t high enough on my list of concerns. Think about that for a minute. Think about lying in that filth - and it doesn’t occur to you to get up and change the sheets. You are completely unfazed because there are so many other things that just happened that have fazed your face off. You are in a murky, depleted, sub-functional state. And you won’t be thriving again for some time. If you can afford it, get help. If you can’t afford it, call in every favor.
This is your chance to eat humble pie out of the oven of shame served at gas mark: egg on your face (hat tip to IT Crowd), for all the times you underestimated what your mom did for you. Go on, have another bite, it’s good for you.