After the rush of giving birth wore off, I faced my first big challenge as a mom of a new human: breastfeeding the strongest, hangriest baby around. Apparently, my baby hadn't read any of the same stuff about breastfeeding that I had. He also didn't know that because he'd been born at home without any meds, he was supposed to latch instantly and perfectly like the perfect earth mama and baby we were. Cringing every time he let out a hungry fuss, I knew I was in the middle of one of those times you feel defeated postpartum, where you eventually learn how resilient you are.
After a few days of hit-or-miss latching and raw nipples, I decided that if I could give birth in my own bedroom, I could figure this out, too. I started Googling and booked an appointment with a lactation consultant, and after learning a few tricks for getting a deep latch every time, we finally hit our nursing stride. Bouncing back from a time when I dreaded feeding to a time when I loved it showed me that though raising a brand new person was tough at times, I am tough, too. That was a lesson I’d learn over and over again (and one I’m still learning, two years later).
Sometimes after giving birth, it feels like you have the world’s most important job, yet you don’t feel like you have it in you to be trusted with such a huge responsibility. However, only half of that statement is true. You do have it in you, and you’ll see that over and over again after you persevere through postpartum moments like the following:
When Breastfeeding Isn't As “Natural” As You Hoped It Would Be
The early days of breastfeeding are a far cry from the idealized images in breastfeeding pamphlets. Making milk is what mammals do, but that doesn't mean breastfeeding “comes naturally” in the “easy, effortless” sense most people mean when they use that term. Whether you go on to overcome your breastfeeding challenges or decide that it’s not worth it, you and your baby will most likely come out on the other side, stronger for having figured out how to make this whole baby eating thing work for everyone involved.
When Your Baby Cries For The Millionth Time Right As You're Just Falling Asleep
Either newborns have special parental sleep radar, or the sound of an adult head hitting a pillow emits a terribly unbearable sound only babies can hear.
When You Can’t Remember The Last Time You Had A Full Night’s Sleep
Probably sometime during your second trimester, maybe?
When You're Sore Literally Everywhere
I expected to be sore down below after giving birth. I didn't expect my neck and shoulders and arms and everything else to be sore, too. All the funky poses I held during labor, while nursing and while bedsharing definitely took a toll. Yet I somehow kept moving.
When You Don't Know Why Your Baby Is So Upset…
Sometimes babies just fuss and fuss and you can't figure out why. It's exasperating.
...But You Keep Trying To Figure It Out
80 Google searches, 10 questions to various online mom groups, and phone calls with your pediatrician, mom, best friend, and/or sister later, and you’ll either have an answer (and some remedies of varying effectiveness) or at least some reassurances that this happens to everyone.
When You’re Lonely AF But Your Plans With Friends Keep Falling Through
Scheduling can feel impossible when you not only have to coordinate with busy adults, but work around the ever-changing routines of a newborn baby. Yet you persevere. Fear not, lonely mama. You'll succeed eventually.
When You Don't Even Have The Energy To Try To Go Out
“Remember when I actually wanted to leave the house, and getting ready to go out didn't seem like an impossible chore?”
When You Barely Recognize Yourself In The Mirror…
Few things are as jarring as going from seeing a full-bellied pregnant mama in the mirror, to a kinda deflated postpartum mama in the mirror. Not always the best feeling, but certainly a reminder of just how much your body is capable of.
...And Nothing In Your Closet Seems To Fit
Maternity clothes feel too loose. Pre-baby clothes feel too tight. You want to get new things, but you're either broke and/or hesitant to invest in new clothes when you have no idea what size and shape you'll be in a month. Argh.
When You Finally Get Into A Rhythm With Your New Baby…
After a little while, you start to figure out your new baby and anticipate their needs. It feels amazing, decoding your new human and being able to keep them alive.
...And Then They Change, And Your Rhythm Goes Out The Window
It's awe-inspiring, frustrating, and exasperating how quickly babies grow and change. But then you remember that if you figured them out once, you can figure them out again. If you can make a whole new person, what can't you do? You got this.