A Letter to My Pre-Baby Self
As I prepare to bring a third baby boy into this world, I’ve been thinking back to brand-new to motherhood Shelby and what I would tell her now that I’ve been around the block a couple times. This is all advice and reminders I need my heart to hear again since it's been a few years since I've been in the newborn trenches.
Dear Brand New Mama,
The Hard Stuff Doesn’t Last Forever You’re gonna feel SO many things that first week of motherhood. And while some of it may be the hormones talking, you’re allowed to feel like it’s hard because it is! It’s the initial stripping away of self that is so very uncomfortable, but so very necessary to give way to the mother inside you. That first week home with Grady, sitting on the couch majorly engorged with a baby that wants to eat every hour and crying, “This is my life now, I’ll never do anything alone again” will feel like the end of life as you know it. And in a way, it is. But it gives way to a beautiful, beautiful life if you’ll keep looking up. And he WILL fall into an eating habit that is very manageable. And then again when you’re getting up every few hours those first few weeks and think, “I’ll never sleep through the night again”. Press in, mama. It's changing you. And by 10 weeks old, Grady will be sleeping through the night and those sleepless nights will fade. And when he starts teething and fusses on and off all day, you'll think, “I’m never gonna get anything done again having to hold a baby all day”. But his teeth will come in and he will be the baby you know and enjoy again. I know you will think that everything FEELS SO HARD because you have no clue how long it will last. But the simple fact is that the hard stuff doesn’t last forever.
You are not enough, but He is Nothing will bring you to the end of yourself like new motherhood. Your life changes 100% and you are now responsible for another human being. It’s the most stretching thing you’ll ever do, laying down your wants and desires - your life - for this little person. You’ll go through days where you’re so physically and mentally exhausted that you don’t think you can do it anymore. And alone, you can’t. You alone are not enough. You need to ask for help when you need it. There is no shame in that. Tell your husband when you’re at your wit’s end BEFORE you lose it in exhaustion. Take your friend up on her offer to hold the baby while you take a nap. And most importantly, ask God for strength and trust that while you are weak, He is strong. He can equip you with supernatural patience and grace if you only ask for it. You, new mama, are not enough but He is. Soak in His truth and trust Him at his Word.
You Can’t Pour From an Empty Cup There’s a reason that when you’re on a flight they tell you to put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others. The same is true in motherhood. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, you won’t be able to care for your baby like you want to. And while yes, sometimes self-care might be taking a bath and going to bed early. A lot of times, it’s doing the hard stuff that you KNOW will be better for you and your family. If working out puts you in a better place mentally- prioritize it. If meal planning is gonna save you from a frazzled trip to the grocery store with a newborn in tow - make time for it so you can go to the grocery ONCE and alone. You might feel disconnected to Josh in this new season as your time and attention is spent on your new baby, so tell him how much a date night means to you. These things are self-care. Trust me.
There's Beauty in All of It
Keep your eyes open for the beauty in the ordinary. The soft coos and tiny toes. The eyes that look up at you while nursing and trust you so fully. The cries that only you can comfort. There's so much beauty in being needed if you'll look for it. I know it will feel exhausting but anything hard is worth doing. You will find depths in yourself you never knew existed and you'll be surprised at how quickly your body adjusts to less sleep. Grady's birthday is your birth-day, too. The day you become a mother. And you're gonna love who you become.