I had my newborn daughter a week ago tonight.
This past week I’ve been riding high on a wonderful birth experience, and I’ve also been feeling so fragile.
This emotional fragility is coupled with an almost ethereal beauty that all new mothers exude—I’m reminded of a green flower shoot, just emerged from the dirt.
The day before I had her, I was a passenger in my parents’ van with my (now oldest) daughter in the back. I was allowed to window gaze in a way that I normally can’t, seeing that I’m typically the one behind the wheel.
I saw a simple fall leaf swirling among the treetops; alone, moving within the same spiral, strong yet fragile. For some reason, it inked on my heart what I knew lie directly ahead: the winds of transition.
And then, within 24 hours, I was in a hospital bed. I was again a new mom, but, although for the second time, this experience was something completely fresh. Completely different. Completely new.
My heart was bursting with love for this beautiful girl who was pressed to my breast, and also it longed for the older girl 20 minutes away, waiting for us to come home.
Being a mom all over again is something that’s magic. A blessing. A gift. And I couldn’t help but ponder these last several days how and what has made this brand-new experience something even more special.
I came up with this short list of four things that have helped me start my new life—and enjoy it.
1. Ask for help.
Don’t be a hero. Ask for help.
From needs as simple as a glass of water while nursing to asking the night nurse at the hospital to help move an infant into her bedside crib, every new-mother need is important. Don’t wait (like I initially did) until so tired that you could explode.
2. Put family’s needs first.
Family as in you, your partner and your child or children. Period. End of story.
Okay, here’s a story.
My family—that is, my husband’s family and mine—live a couple of hours away. It’s times like this that I really wish they didn’t.
I’d love guests for an hour or maybe two in between breastfeedings. (I’m one of those women who live practically topless, nursing skin-to-skin for the first few weeks—and I refuse to cater to a guest’s needs rather than my infant’s.)
I’d love the break since we’re basically hanging out at home constantly. But day-long visitors? No. Just. No. Not the best thing for this new-again nursing mama or for my older daughter trying to find a new normal.
3. Embrace vulnerability.
My horoscope for this month was to embrace my vulnerability rather than (ahem) hiding it like I often do.
Point taken when I just had to remind my husband and partner of over 20 years that when I act angry and irritable I usually want to break down and cry.
So cry. Being a new mom is glorious, yes, but it’s also like being an open wire; a conduit for a love so strong that every nerve, every emotion is laid bare, exposed and…vulnerable. Be vulnerable.
4. Embrace strength.
We are stronger than we fear. Yep, I said fear for a reason.
There’s a symbolic, mythical strength of the mother; of the mama bear; of the fierceness of the woman—and it all comes out in a new mom.
Embrace it. Let your confidence and belief in your body’s capabilities and your one-hundred-times-stronger heart lead you into life as a mother with grace and fortitude that we can do it. That cliche that we feel we can do anything after we’ve given birth? I find it to be true.
I sit here typing, with my oldest daughter reading in my once-again lap and my newborn napping in her crib (for a moment or two at least) while I watch her on the baby monitor—and I’m not someone who enjoys or even believes in multi-tasking, but we become capable when the situation calls for it. Be capable.
Be vulnerable. Be strong. Be your glorious new-mom self. But, above all, bask in this new moment before it sets.
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Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Steve Winton/Flickr