Dear Brave Mom,
You did it—you gave birth to a real, human baby. You made it through your pregnancy, you made it through labor and delivery, whatever that looked like for you. You are now a mom of a newborn.
Momma, be proud. However you got to this point with your little wrinkled newborn, be proud of yourself. Be proud of yourself because I know you are waking up every few hours to feed that baby. Be proud of yourself because you are putting your big girl pants on every single day and putting yourself last—even your own basic needs like eating, sleeping, and peeing—to keep your little one alive. Do you know how brave it is to wake up every day and do something that’s really hard or that scares you? If that’s you, feel brave today.
Change is Coming
Momma, be encouraged. There will be a day, when you will be able to pee when you need to again. When you will be able to eat with both hands. When you can sleep more than a few hours at a time. There will come a day, not too far in the future, when your entire existence is not milk and diapers. When you feel a little more like yourself and a little less like a mammal distilled to its most essential form of eating, sleeping and caring for young.
Parent Your Way
Momma, can I give you permission? You can stay home if you want to. I know you have a friend who is launching a small business and literally took one day off to have her baby and then was back at it. You may have a friend who brought her one-week old to your birthday party at the hip new bar in town, the other who brought her two-month old to a weekend camping trip.
If you want to do that, go for it! But if all you want to do is sit on the couch in your robe, watching Netflix while you breastfeed for the millionth time today, that’s OK. This is a short season, and it’s all about care. What’s best for your baby, and what’s best for you, Momma who carried that baby and birthed that baby and now feeds that baby.
Postpartum Highs and Lows
And Momma, if this season is super hard, for whatever reason, hear what my sister told me when I was drowning in newborn care: you don’t have to cherish this time. You just don’t. If you feel like it’s taking everything in you just to survive, and then on top of that you have a heaping dose of guilt because your child will only be a newborn once and surely you’ll miss this someday…just stop. It’s OK if you’re not cherishing this time, if you’re just surviving.
And, as my other sister would tell me when I’d call her in tears about my 2-month-old refusing to nap, “The fun part is just around the corner!” And she was right. When my baby was a newborn, I was thankful for her, for her life and for her health, but I didn’t cherish that season. I was too busy trying to keep my head above water, trying to be brave. Once she turned three months old, I had more moments of cherishing, and then each month the moments of wonder, delight, and gratitude grew more frequent and the moments of sheer survival grew less.
You Can Do This
Right now, as you care for your newborn, it’s all right if you are just hanging on for dear life, with gritted teeth and eyes shut, waiting for the roller coaster ride to be over. The truth is the ride you got on when you became a mother doesn’t stop, but you do get used to the twists and turns, even if you can’t predict them. You will get used to the unpredictability of the ride, and you will even start to open your eyes sometimes, and to let go of your white-knuckled grip, and on your best days you will lift your hands in the air and shout for joy.
Sometimes you need a good friend to look you in the eyes and speak truth into your life. While we can’t physically meet over coffee, our Dear Brave Mom letters are what we want to say to all the Momma’s out there who are in need of community! Read more Dear Brave Mom letters!
Joy Netanya Thompson
Joy lives in Los Angeles with her husband Robert and her (almost) 8-month-old daughter, Zadie. She’s a stay at home mom, but has worked as an editor and a writer, as well as a high school teacher. She has a Master’s degree in theology from Fuller Theological Seminary. She has articles published in Equals Quarterly, Boneshaker Magazine, Fuller Magazine, Outreach Magazine and Relevant Magazine online. She also blogs at www.netanya.wordpress.com.
Holly loves spending time with her husband and kids who range in age from 5-22.