Becoming A Mom
- My newborn cried -like a lot.
- My milk supply never really came in.
- I hated all of the pumping.
- I didn't have the patience for breastfeeding.
- The witching hour(s) were real.
- All of his cries sounded the same.
- All of his cues looked the same.
- ... and I had no clue what I was doing at any given moment.
Bringing home a newborn for the very first time wasn't the life changing experience I expected it to be. All of my conscious and unconscious thoughts and emotions were now enthralled by the existence of a child -my child.
His cries made my heart race.
I was confused all of the time and that made me believe I would never figure it out. "It" being motherhood.
Becoming a mom meant so much to me. It meant so much that I feared it. I questioned everything I did to the point of anxiety -the kind of anxiety that keeps you awake through sleepless nights' sleep deprivation.
Motherhood felt like a thing I couldn't attain.
"Mom" felt like a word I didn't deserve.
I thought there was a secret way of doing everything that no one was telling me.
There was a "mom" I wanted to be. I wanted to be the mom in the books I read -the one who made newborn sleep and motherhood seem so easy and natural. I wanted to be the mom whose newborn was easy and, I so badly wanted to be the mom who all of this came natural to.
Well turns out, I wasn't that mom.
Somewhere along the lines I forgot that I was a new mom to a newborn.
This was supposed to be NEW to me.
I expected the frequent night feedings and lack of sleep but I never expected the anxiety and the wearing pressure. That somehow was the only thing that seemed to occur naturally for me.
I expected my life to change but I never expected "ME" to change.
My child now consumed my every waking, breathing moment and I was struggling to understand how I could still be myself when he came before me and, there -before me, he so powerfully existed.
What did being a mom mean and what did that mean to me?
Asking myself that question forced me to this understanding:
Being a mom (to me) meant confidence.
Confidence in myself.
Confidence in my child.
People always told me to trust myself and I never understood what that really meant. There was a level of judgement I was placing on myself.
I lost myself in that judgement.
That judgement caused me the undue anxiety and pressure I was barely surviving under. Stuck in the comparison of my child and my experience to everyone else's, felt like failure. Comparison will make you feel that way.
I stopped comparing myself and my son, I stopped reading parenting and sleep training books, and I stopped my late-night google/parent forum searches.
Instead I accepted that this was all new to me, that my son was fussier than I expected a newborn to be, and that this wasn't going to be easy and it was going to take me time to figure it out. "It" being motherhood but, I was missing something... -my son.
The mom I wanted to be was an ideal drawn up from women and mothers I knew of, or who were the authors of those books I'd read.
But... none of those women could know more about my son than I would.
The realization that none of those women could know more about my son than I would, freed me. It was then that motherhood shifted abruptly from books and everyone else to my son. Learning him and understanding what he liked gave me the confidence I needed to be a mom and more importantly, to be HIS mom.
I now know how to soothe him during the witching hour(s). I know that he is the fussiest when he is tired -and boy does he fight his sleep. I know that he loves to be worn in my wrap and I know that he is happiest when he is well fed and well napped.
No one can tell you how to parent or how to experience motherhood or the identity shift of it.
YOU determine that!
The books I read and the advice I received provided good ideas to try and some guiding principles, but there is no secret way of doing everything. The only secret is taking the time to learn YOUR child.
Doing that has created a flexible routine for us and it allows time for some of the things I still enjoy doing (for me).
Because underneath being a mom, I am still me.
this week we found out that the red mark on our son's lip is a hemangioma (birthmark of extra blood vessels). He was not born with it. It appeared as a thin red line on his lip when he was about 3 weeks old. We initially thought he scratched himself but it continued to get bigger and spread into his mouth and gum line. Apparently it's common that these birthmarks develop in the first few weeks of life after birth.