Why Being a New Mom is So Stinkin’ Hard
You never forget your baptism into motherhood. The memories of new mom-dom have been especially close to me over the last couple months as I’ve nestled, fed, and swaddled our newest little man, Jamison. While almost seven years have passed since I was a new mom, the memories have stuck with me like maple syrup between my fingers—sweet, messy, and impossible to ignore.
Recovery from giving birth was not what I had expected. (You want me to do WHAT with that squirt bottle??) Add to that the hormonal crash and the expectation that my body would immediately snap back to normal, and I had set myself up for a complete new-mommy meltdown—and let’s not forget about the responsibility of actually taking care of my new baby.
Before my firstborn Cohen was born, I took the birthing classes and read the newborn books. I read blogs on sleep training and rolled my eyes when my mom tried to offer her own wisdom. (Sorry, mom.) But the minute Ben and I brought that 7-pound baby boy home, I felt completely unprepared. I remember standing over his bassinet in the living room, the sun warming his tiny, sleeping face, thinking “Now what? What do I do with him?”
Then the worry began.
Is he still breathing? Is he breathing too fast? How can I tell if he’s getting enough to eat? Is he sleeping too much? What if he rolls over during the night and doesn’t sleep on his back? Will he ever sleep longer? Why doesn’t he smile?
And oh, the sleep deprivation. Feeding a baby with jaundice every two hours quickly took its toll. My mind was a cyclone of anxiety and exhaustion.
Why is this SO hard? Had I made a mistake? Was I not cut out for motherhood?
I began to think that being a new mom would get easier with the next stage of infant development: the next growth spurt, sitting up, eating real food, sleeping through the night, weaning off the bottle, and so on.
Easier never came.
Each next came with a new hard. He began to sleep through the night only to fight daytime naps. He ate baby food only to have explosive diapers daily. Sitting up only led to discontent when something was out of reach. You get the picture: Hard. Hard. Hard.
I began to wonder, “Would being a mom ever get easier?”
Easier, yes…but never absent of hard.
To the first-time moms out there, I know that’s not what you want to hear. You’re covered in spit-up, crying, wishing you could rest your eyes for ONE. FREAKING. MINUTE. I feel your desperation, I really do. The sleep deprivation and decline in personal hygiene is no laughing matter. Just last night, my own little butter bean cried for almost three hours straight no matter what I did. I woke up feeling defeated and exhausted and wondering whether I could stay sane another day. But stick with me, friend.
Motherhood, especially in its infancy, is so incredibly difficult. For the first time in your life another human is 100-percent dependent on you. You’re it. His meals, his baths, his safety, and assurance. You wipe his buns and regularly find his vomit down your back. You make sure he is buckled in properly and warm enough at night. Not even spouses require that amount of time and attention.
It’s overwhelming. You give and give and give and give one more time—often without getting anything in return.You want a nap, but baby just won’t stop crying. You prepare a bottle, but never quite fast enough for baby’s liking. You go to brush your teeth, but that little nugget wants to be held. His needs come first, and that level of self-sacrifice often feels more like a burden than a blessing in these early stages.
But take heart: Motherhood becomes less physically draining. Sooner or later, those little boogers sleep. You’ll shower daily and even visit your hair stylist more than twice a year. One day, you will leave the house without that suitcase full of diapers, wipes, bottles, burp rags, and breast pump; you’ll jump into the car with your kids and think, “Wow…that was too easy.” I promise. You’ll get there.
In the meantime, we must learn to reconcile with the reality that being a mom is hard. It just is. Each season has its challenges that require something new of us. Over time, we trade in the work of keeping our littles alive for molding them into men. We come alongside them as they make decisions, falter, find freedom, and fail. We hold them tight when their hearts break and learn to let go because they were never ours in the first place.
Being a mom will both break and make your heart. But why would we want it to be otherwise? Most good things are formed from sweat and tears, patience and perseverance.
The challenge for us mamas is to embrace every aspect of motherhood, the highs and the lows, the slobbery infant smiles along with the open defiance of our three-year-olds. When things get hard (and they will), may we fall to our knees and ask for grace to see past our temporary trials, our less-than-adequate abilities, and into God’s abundance in order to give one more time. For it is here, in this swirl of bitter and sweet, that motherhood becomes a window into what redemption really looks like—and just how much we need it.