December 2, 2016

10 Things I want every Struggling new Mom to Know.

Flickr/Jessica Pankratz

Hey, new mama. I see you. How are you?

Now let me ask that again: How are you?

Because if you tell me “great” or “good,” I’m going to ask you again.

I want to know your new reality. I want you to feel heard. I want you to feel seen and understood. I want you to feel supported and appreciated.

And because I can’t listen to all of your stories face to face (because I am a new mom too), I want to at least let you know some of what I’ve seen and felt, so that maybe you feel a little less alone.

Now, if you are pregnant, I may advise waiting to read this article until you are needing some uplifting as a new mom. The point of this article is not to scare people off, but to provide solidarity in the times we new moms need it.

In the early weeks, I remember researching articles in the wee hours of the night that reassured me I could get through it, that things get easier, that somehow I would make it through. So I’m writing this article because I think there needs to be more. More honest encouragement about the reality of being a new mom.

So that being said, without further ado, here are the 10 things I would like to say to you, as a new mama:

1. This is so friggin’ hard. I’m always shocked that people don’t share more about how hard motherhood is. If I only saw social media posts I would probably quit, because almost everyone seems to be so happy and “with it” all the time. I could never understand the moms who post photos of them beaming and looking incredible all the time, without a care in the world. Who are these people? And what is their secret?

But then I found out that they struggle too. Much more so than most moms ever let on. Which is why it’s often deemed the hardest job you’ll ever love. And it’s true. Being a mom is harder than I ever could’ve fathomed. And yet I love it more than anything I’ve ever done in my life.

2. It’s okay to not want to leave your baby. You’re not being irrational. You’re being a mama. I crave working out, but I have trouble leaving my little one with the gym’s childcare. I am working up to it. I know I am not alone. We have all these preconceived notions of how easy something like that should be, but sometimes it just isn’t.

That being said…

3. It’s okay to want alone time more than anything else you’ve ever wanted. Sometimes I just want silence—outside, away from everyone and everything, to do whatever I please. No one knows your needs or your baby’s needs quite like you do. So whatever it is you need, I hope you can find some support and strength in getting it. Sometimes all it takes is just asking.

4. Middle of the night freak-outs happen to me too. There are nights when I totally want to give up. Except we can’t. Because there is no way out but through. And the freak-outs do get easier and less frequent. I was having a tough night recently. My daughter was crying and very upset, and I couldn’t figure out what she needed. That hasn’t happened in a while. So I reached out to a seasoned mom who is full of good advice (and tends to be a night owl).

Her words made me feel infinitely better, and I hope they do for you too: “I think the best we can do sometimes is be in that moment with them. I say ‘Oh pumpkin, you must be having a tough time, and I am sorry I can’t make it better, but I am trying to figure it out. I am here with you, you aren’t alone, and we will be together when you feel better too.'”

When I mentioned that it’s hard feeling so helpless to help her, she added: “Of course it’s hard. I have been there where I thought, ‘I may throw my little human out the window.’ I am tired and frustrated and it’s hard to muster strength to be awake and functioning, let alone empathy! That’s a tough emotion even when we aren’t tired and stressed.”

5. I think your mom bod is sexy. I love your voluptuous hips and round tummy. In fact, I think your “squish” is just as cute as your baby’s. Go to the gym because it feels amazing to move your body, but don’t do it because you want to look “better.” Your body is a temple, and you are one heck of a goddess! I’m including a picture of a Tantric goddess for your reference:

6. It’s normal to feel hot and cold a million times a day. Some moments, I can’t take one more second of my boob-suckling monster. I pass our baby over to her dad, and then when she reaches for me, I can’t help but smile and appreciate being needed by my sweet baby. I want to take her and cuddle her for the rest of time. Until I don’t. And then I pass her back to her dad or put her down because I need 10 deep breaths to myself.

7. Identity. What’s that? One of the hardest struggles I’ve seen new moms go through is feeling confused about who they are in relation to who they once were. It’s really damn hard to have a good grip on your life, only to have the rug pulled out from under you. The jobs you used to hold might not have the same meaning. The friends who used to be your besties aren’t really around so much anymore. You want to work, go out with friends, have nice meals and be seen as an individual, but it has to be something really worth it to leave your baby (see number two). Hopefully I’ll have more to say about this when I understand it better myself. For now I know that it comes with time.

8. Everything is harder when you are a sleep-deprived zombie. Some days I wake up wanting to clean the house, launch a new service, write an article, catch up with friends, exercise, make good meals. If one or two of those things happen, I need to remind myself I did a good job today. Heck, if none of those things happen, I still did a good job! I provided for a human who is totally dependent and helpless in the world. I am still breathing. My baby is breathing. And hopefully at least one of us is fed.

9. You hold tremendous value. I was in the boat of “pregnancy doesn’t feel quite so miraculous.” I had moments of connecting with my baby that were incredible, but I also had moments that were confusing, scary and full of anguish. You can check out my other article, The Spiritual Surprise of Being Pregnant for more on that.

However I now continue to teach prenatal yoga, and I cry at the end of almost every class. What a remarkable thing to be brave enough to bring new life into the world! The opportunity at your fingertips to raise a loved, appreciated and acknowledged sentient being. It’s nothing short of miraculous. I realize that now. I hope you do too.

10. Go out and find your community of moms. Even if it is just one class a week, or every other week. Go to reading time at the library, a “Mommy and Me” yoga class, anything your community has. Make it a priority. Ask moms for playdates. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and honest. Everyone needs connection during this time. If you don’t already have a community of moms, I strongly encourage you to make one today. It is such a healing way to move through the baby blues of feeling lonely and needing solidarity.

So, is motherhood worth it?

We all have our reasons to believe yes or no. To be honest, for environmental reasons I’m always thankful for people who know they don’t want to have kids.

For me it’s something I’ve always known I wanted. I wasn’t sure if it would happen, or if I would just be a presence in my friends’ kids life and as a nanny. But then we unexpectedly got pregnant, and I knew it was my time. It was the next part of my journey and self-evolution.

I am grateful for the unconditional currents of love that run through my body daily now. I am grateful to see myself rise to new strengths and come through them more solid and confident. I am grateful for this magical human being that I get to learn from and explore the world with every single day.

I have never been happier than when she giggles or smiles at me through her innocent eyes. Sometimes it takes my breath away and reminds me to drop everything I’m doing and be present with her.

I believe that children are one step more evolved than their parents, so that they can learn and expand greatly upon what we already know. Which means all the more opportunity to bring unconditional love, acceptance, enlightenment and possibility into this world.

So yes, even with all the above trials and tribulations, I thank my lucky stars every day that my child chose me as her mom (and her dad too of course). I’m betting you are too.



Author: Jessica Cartwright

Images: Instagram @jaimegs920Flickr/Jessica Pankratz; WikiMedia Commons

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

Relephant Bonus:

You must be logged in to post a comment. Create an account.

Jessica Cartwright Dec 3, 2016 1:32am

Thank you. I love that - peace to all mothers. -'d you're right, sharing the full circle experience makes me feel so liberated.

Jessica Cartwright Dec 3, 2016 1:31am

And also so important to help others recognize how good it is to ask for help.

Jessica Cartwright Dec 3, 2016 1:29am

What a powerful response, thank you so much for sharing that story! It makes me feel better knowing those thoughts happen to others, and I know that by sharing we create the solidarity we crave!

Jessica Cartwright Dec 3, 2016 1:28am

I so appreciate your response! I love you calling it a tribe. It make sure it feel sacred, which is exactly right.

Marianne O'Neil Dec 2, 2016 4:10pm

Jessica, what a needed voice for moms everywhere. As a mom of 26 years, I can honestly say that all of your sentiments hold essentially forever. Hugging yourself through all of these feelings rather than trying to hold on to myths of only bliss may help to make peace with all facets of experience, especially motherhood. It is the gift we give ourselves and our children. Peace to all mothers!

Heather Seligman Trayner Dec 2, 2016 3:36pm

Just beautiful, and I remember struggling with all of these issues when my daughter (now 2 and 3/4) was born. I will share, that I remember going to the Dr by myself for a check up when she was not yet a month old, and, I drove by the section of town where there are motels. I saw cars in the parking lot, and I thougth to myself, "oh, all of you lucky people! you get to go to bed, and wake up 8 hours later, having SLEPT! Do you have ANY idea how lucky you are?" I also at one point contemplated that I'd keep on driving. Not sure where, just drive. Away. But then I thought that my poor Mom would be left in charge and my husband would've been bewildered. So home I went. (after a script for PPD, mind you) Thanks for writing.

Read Elephant’s Best Articles of the Week here.
Readers voted with your hearts, comments, views, and shares:
Click here to see which Writers & Issues Won.

Jessica Cartwright

Jessica Cartwright is on a mission to make the world a better place, one happy mom at a time. She provides mothers with the tools they need to support themselves, so that they can support their loved ones. She teaches pre and postnatal yoga locally in her hometown of Bozeman and through her virtual course, Mamas with Spirit. Her obsessions include making sourdough bread, sunshine, and her daughter Bella. Stop by and say hi on Instagram or her website.