Editor's note: This article was originally published on Hilary Erickson's blog, Pulling Curls. It has been republished here with permission.
I have a hard time at work sometimes. Sometimes I feel like I'm that drill Sargent sending troops off to the war that was so very painful to me. I wheel them to the curb with a little tear in my eye. I know where they're going. I've been there. I've watched my friends go there. It is a war. I have literally choked away tears as I wish them good luck.
Lately I have a lot of friends who are having their first baby (seriously, how did I get into this place, I swore I'd never throw a shower again ...). I look at them and I have a hard time not SHAKING them and knowing what they're walking into. But even if I did I'd look like a lunatic. I just don't have words. I don't have words to tell them what it will be like.
Sure, that adorable bundle of goo is yours. You love it so much (or, maybe you don't, but you try to ... either way is fine). Those nurses, they make things look so easy, surely it will be fine when you go home. So many people have done this, right? My uncle had a great saying that "Dumber people than you have done this." That was my mantra for a good two weeks when my son was born.
You walk in the door. Everything seems the same. It's the same kitchen, your same bed. Yet, everything is somehow different. You've changed. Not only are your hips a good centimeter larger (or more) but there's more …
Anyway, I just want everyone to know that first baby — it's a doozy. I mean, every baby that follows is a doozy too … but that first one. The realization that THIS is your new life. You are completely enslaved to someone who weighs less than the bag of flour you got at Target a few days ago. Your every need comes second to theirs.
I remember bursting into tears when my son would be hungry. I didn't want to be near him, and I felt SO guilty. SO guilty. I remember my husband trying to get me to "play" with him on his non-sleeping hours. Just so I could feel a little baby joy rather than wanting to claw my own eyes out while he tried to suck my soul out.
I remember crying like a maniac that I didn't have milk. MY child would be RUINED. He'd never read, his IQ would be in the toilet. I had truly failed him. Seriously? I mean, I truly fail him in many worse ways daily now. Had I only known that then.
Had I known how truly hard it is to ruin a newborn I think I might have put a little less pressure on myself. But all those books, all those DARN BOOKS. Not to mention those moms who pretend that it is a piece of cake. That they never, ever had thoughts like that. They're lying. Or, they're on serious anti-depressants.
Anyway, I guess what I'm going to wind this up to say is that YOU are OK. Whatever you are thinking is fine. You don't have to feel guilty about wishing your life hadn't been sucked into the mouth of this little infant. You don't have to feel guilty about mixing a bottle every now and then. You don't have to feel guilty if the sound of them crying makes you just turn up the Enya for a few minutes longer.
Because this is your new life. That isn't to say that you'll be sleepless forever, or that feeding and pooping will be your main concerns forever. But it is your new life. This baby IS your new life.
And every woman takes their own pace realizing that and getting into their new groove. Because, you will find that groove (hopefully with the support of your assistive husband). Someday you'll be that mom who tackles three kids with abandon and looks like she has it all together (emphasis on looks) but today isn't that day. Today is the day to get through one hour at a time, and find joy in the tiny things, and to stroke those tiny baby thighs and to think happy thoughts about heaven where that baby just was.
Now is the time to realize that you can do it. But you're not going to do it all today.
And most of all, now is the time to know you can call me any time. I've been there. I do this for a living. And I want to help out. There is no need for this to be a private war. The more troops the better, right? Wish I had reached out more. I felt so awkward saying this wasn't working. I had one friend who I spilled my soul to daily and she was so comforting. I actually can't even remember her name now, but she was amazing. A true gift from God at the time.
Knuckle bump to anyone who's ever been a first time mom. We all know you'll make it.
Hilary is a very part time nurse, and a very full time mom. She loves her faith, her family and her blog. The order depends on the day. You can find her at her blog, Pulling Curls or subscribe to Pulling Curls Direct.