It was a warm summer August morning, when, after 10 months and 29 hours of pregnancy and labor, a new little fellow entered our world. With wrinkled little hands and feet and the sweetest face one could dream up, he was finally here.
After three years of unexplained infertility, and the loss of our first pregnancy, he was here and he was perfect.
As an independent, well-traveled, career-minded couple, we weren’t in a rush early on in our marriage to procreate. But as goals were achieved and the list of destinations we’d love to travel to grew shorter, we started to feel like a part of us was missing. That our family was no longer “complete” being just the two of us. It was time for more, it was time for him.
Though the struggle to conceive was immense, the pregnancy was blissfully uneventful, and after a long and hard natural birth, I thought the hardest part was behind me when we brought this delicate new little person home and laid him down in the crib my husband built for him. But as days and nights blurred together for seemingly weeks on end, I saw in those moments why it took so long for us to receive this tiny blessing.
Our hearts, minds, bodies and souls needed time to prepare for this adventure. Our time, our plans, our lives were no longer our own. He had us wrapped around his tiny little fingers.
Due to a traumatic birth that kept me and the little one in the hospital longer than I expected, I grieved the loss of the “euphoric” high and bond that is so often talked about when med-free birth is promoted. I felt guilty that I longed for, and even cried and begged for, sleep in those early days when we had waited for, and prayed for our son for so many years. I felt guilty for feeling resentful towards my husband at times when he’d be fully rested, even though he needed to be for work, because I chose to breastfeed on demand and was the sole source of nutrition and comfort for our baby.
It was in those moments that I realized, that along with the loveliness, there is also loneliness in early motherhood.
Even though I have an amazingly supportive husband who got paternity leave. Even though we have family nearby. Even though I am blessed to work from home. There were, and sometimes still are, moments where I felt lonely. And for months I pushed these feelings aside and wouldn’t dare speak them aloud. Because we got a baby after not being able to conceive for so long. Because I have a husband who is hands on. A family who supports us. A home-based business. Luxuries not afforded to many. And most of the time I felt I didn’t have a right to feel those things. Yet, not giving those feelings a valid space started to slowly grow that resentment, and eventually started to resemble feelings of depression. I had to extend to myself grace upon grace upon grace. I had to talk about it with my husband, with my support system, and with other moms in my community. I found that no matter the support structure one has in place, motherhood, especially in the early, hazy newborn days, is hard. And that nothing leading up to this can prepare you.
The ones that came before me, they tried to tell me.
The beauty is, by giving those feelings a place and by taking time to talk it out and take a step back each day to pray, to breathe and to find little independent pockets of time where I can connect to me, my husband and my tribe, the loneliness floats farther and farther away, becoming a distant memory of that newborn phase. That allowed me to soak up all of the loveliness of motherhood. The deep, deep love that can’t be touched. His sweet smiles and infectious giggles, the blessed five months of breastfeeding we’ve grown to savor, the cuddles, the milestones and the visions of all of the moments ahead where we will beam with pride for this amazing little persons every accomplishment.
It’s all there. In this messy, beautiful life. It’s all there to be delighted in. We just have to open up to those around us, find connection, live with intention and love fiercely with all that we are. Understanding that the timing of our lives is orchestrated perfectly no matter how long or rocky the road may be getting there or how unsteady we may feel for a time when we arrive.
I would love to hear from other new mamas out there. What was your greatest solace in those early newborn days?