Now that I'm two years into this whole mom thing, I must admit that "exciting" isn't really the word that comes to mind when I think of that postpartum time period. Instead, my brain conjures up words like "exhausted," "overwhelmed," "sore," and "scared," as I was definitely all of those things (and more) after I brought my son into the world. Still, there are more than a few exciting postpartum moments no one will tell you about that are worth cherishing and celebrating.
Even though I am now mothering a toddler and time has sufficiently smoothed over the rough edges of postpartum life, I can still remember that new-mom haze as if I just left the hospital an hour ago. I had read every damn baby book known to man (and woman, of course), researched what to expect like it was my full-time job, and asked so many questions of other moms you would've thought I was a professional journalist. Still, nothing really prepares you for the rawness that is the fourth trimester, and I was in over my head in a way that was both exciting and terrifying.
That makes these following moments worth looking forward to. Sure, there's a lot be scared about, a lot to contemplate, a lot of important decisions to make, and a lot to adjust to, but there's also a lot to really just sink into and enjoy. With motherhood, as well as anything else, you take the good with the bad and enjoy the ride.
The Moment You Get The Baby To Sleep On The First Try
For some mothers, this will be almost effortless. I mean, what exactly does a brand new baby do besides, sleep, eat, pee, poop, and repeat, right?
However, for the rest of us who may have had a harder time getting our precious cherubs to bed, the moment you put your baby down for a nap, strategically placing them in their crib or bassinet, only to walk away as they sleep peacefully is the biggest of wins. It's the little things, my friends.
The Moment You're Able To Breastfeed For The First Time (If You Can And/Or Choose To)
Of course, this won't apply to every mother because not every mother chooses and/or is able to breastfeed.
However, I will never forget the moment my son successfully breastfed on his own when we were out of the hospital. There wasn't a nurse around to help him latch, or to coach me on a specific position. We did it all on our own and, in that moment, I felt like a real, actual, genuine mom.
The Moment You Take That Glorious Postpartum Shower
This is heaven. Honestly, there should be epic poems penned in the name of that first postpartum shower and all of its glory. It's magnificent. It's incredible. It washes away 40 weeks (more or less) of pregnancy and however many hours you spent laboring and pushing your baby into the world.
I will never forget that first postpartum shower. While it was somewhat unsettling to look at my postpartum body for the first time (I mean, I still looked six months pregnant) it felt incredible to feel hot water run over me, settle my muscles, and simply give me time to breathe.
The Moment Your Baby Smiles For The First Time
That smile. That smile is everything.
My son was a very smiley baby, so it took him all of a few hours before he was smiling in his sleep. That moment — the moment he flashed the first of what would be many grins my way — gave me this incredible feeling of certainty and purpose. I would do whatever it took to see that smile as often as humanly possible.
The Moment You Leave Your Baby For The First Time
OK, people probably talked to you about this one.
The thing is, there's a reason why. That first solo-trip into the world as a new mom is a big deal, usually filled with juxtaposing feelings. Personally, I was both undeniably excited and pretty damn scared. I wanted (read: needed) that alone time, away from my baby, but I was terrified that something would happen to him while I was gone (which made zero sense, as my partner is a very loving and capable father).
Still, that was the first step on a long journey that will end with my son leaving me. That's how it should be, right? My job is to ready my son for life without me, and I should be more than ready and able and willing to enjoy my life without him, too.
The Moment Your BFF Meets Your Baby For The First Time
The mother-in-laws and the moms and the grandpas and the other prominent family members usually get the big "first meeting" spotlight. However, there's something truly magical about your BFF meeting and holding and loving on your baby for the very first time.
Luckily for me, my soulmate (also known as my amazing best friend) met my son the second he was born. She was in the delivery room because, well, she's my person. So my son was barely a few hours old before she was holding him and loving on him. Watching the woman who used to pick my drunk ass of the bathroom floor, holding the human being I grew and birthed, was this full-circle experience that cut to my very core. Emotional terrorism at its finest, my friends.
The Moment You're No Longer Physically Sore
I honestly can't say when this actually happened. I just remember waking up one day and not dreading my walk to the bathroom or the living room or anywhere else. One minute it felt like a truck ran over my entire body 72 times, the next I was able to walk without cussing.
You Moment You Accomplish A Task While Wearing Your Baby, Cry-Free
My partner cashed in two weeks of vacation and sick leave so that he could be home with me after I brought our son into the world. It was wonderful to have him there, although I hate positioning something that should be a standard (get your mandatory paid family leave policies together, United States) as something "incredible."
So, the first day I was alone with my newborn, and accomplishing multiple tasks while wearing or breastfeeding or simply caring for my baby, made me feel like a damn goddess. I was answering work emails and writing while my son was eating. I was preparing meals and folding laundry while wearing my son. I was cleaning and dancing while my son sat in his swing.
It was short-lived, because for every good day you have as a new parent, you're bound to have a few really sh*tty ones. Still, that first time when everything went "smoothly," made me feel like even when I was at my lowest or doubted myself the most, I could handle motherhood.
The Moment You (And Your Baby) Sleep Through The Night
This is the dream, my friends. This is what you work toward (well, you know, besides keeping your child alive and happy and healthy and teaching them to be a kind, loving, respectable, and progressive human being).
The morning I woke up to realize that everyone in my brand new family had slept through the night, was both equal parts amazing and scary. Of course, my new-mom brain quickly went to the worst case scenario, so I double triple checked to make sure my son was breathing. Yep, he was. We were all just given the gift of sweet, sweet unconsciousness, and it was glorious.
The Moment Your Baby Looks At You For The First Time
My son looked at me almost directly after he was born. However, in my exhaustion and fear (he didn't let out a cry for some time which, I have come to learn, is just my son being stubborn) I didn't really appreciate that moment.
A few days later, while breastfeeding, my son opened his sweet eyes and looked directly at me. It was our "first look," and it changed me in a way I can barely describe. In that moment, my ribs ached and my stomach was on fire and I knew that I was going to be there for him no matter what. I would love him entirely and without condition, cherish him when he drives me insane and when he makes me unapologetically happy, and thank him for giving me the privilege of being his mother, even when being his mother is difficult.