I remember sitting on my bed with tears flowing down my face. Trying hard to catch my breath in the midst of a full out, ugly, loud cry. I was stressed, distraught and tired. This was week 2 of being a mom and I felt like I was a complete failure. My mom and mother in law were both next to me trying hard to comfort me with their words. While their presence was comforting, their words felt like feathers in my hands during a gun fight. It felt as if every time I had found a victory, I was presented with a new challenge. I was anxious every night, dreading having to wake up every two hours to feed my baby girl and knowing that sleep would soon become a distant memory. Well, it is now week 8 and I have learned a thing or two since that ugly cry.
1. Control What You Can
Eventually, after several spats of crying, my mother suggested that I go see my doctor for a post-partum visit. So I did. After talking with her, I realized that I was trying to be in control of things that I simply had no control over. I couldn’t control when and how often my baby woke up. I couldn’t control when my milk came in and how much I was able to produce. I couldn’t control the fact that my body was slowly recovering from childbirth, thus my body would be looking a little different for a while. Per this realization, I made the decision to stop stressing over the things that I could not control. My doctor also made me realize that there were things that I could control. I could control how many people came over to visit. I had been feeling overwhelmed by the number of people and the frequency in which they would come visit. Naturally, I’m a person who values their alone time along with peace and quiet in my home which conflicted with the abundance of visitors that come after a baby is born. While I was able to control who came over and when, I would feel bad saying, “No” and I would say, “Yes” even when I wasn’t in the mood for company.Through learning how to say what I meant, when I meant it; I was able to translate this concept of control into other areas of my life. In life, we get caught up in trying to control things that are completely out of our hands. Then, we stress about those things until we’re sick and tired. Learn to only control what you can and let the other things go. There is NO logic in trying to control things that you have no power over.
2. Let Go & Loosen Up
For the first few weeks of being a mom, I felt as if I was in a constant game of “Figure It Out.” While having my mom and mother-in-law was helpful, at times it was also very frustrating. From their impositions of what they did with their children, to the inference of what I was doing wrong, my level of annoyance became very apparent in the way that I would respond. Not only was I emotional, I was also a little mean. After speaking with my doctor and my moms, I realized that their intentions were pure and they just wanted to help. During some reflection, I decided that while they were available, I would just let them help as much as they wanted. Letting go of the annoyance and the need to be right lifted a burden from me. It gave me a new appreciation for my moms and taught me to be grateful that I had help. Through that I was also able to let go of some of the pressure that I was putting on myself to be perfect. I stopped expecting myself to know it all and instead began to research. I solicited advice from my mommy friends and when all else failed, I asked the Holy Spirit what to do. Letting go alleviated the pain that came when I simply had no idea what to do. This doesn’t mean that I was completely stress free, but it did allow me to reach a solution rather than sit on my bed and cry because I felt useless. We make mistakes; it’s inevitable. The beauty in those mistakes is that we learn lessons from them and we have the opportunity to do better next time. I’m learning to just let go of the minor things and live my life the best way I can. Give yourself some grace and loosen up a bit.
3. Get What You Need
At the two week mark, my husband and I decided that we were going to go to the movies together and leave baby Brooklyn at home with her grandmother. When my mother found out, she told me that it was way too soon for me to be going out because my body was still
recovering. Despite my annoyance, I listened to her but I was devastated.While I love staying home and enjoying peace, I also love being able to leave whenever I desire. At my postpartum visit, my doctor suggested that I get out of the house once a day; even if that meant just taking a walk to get the mail. I began to sneak in alone time when I could and indulged in watching my favorite shows without regret. My husband and I finally went out to see Tye Tribbett in concert and it was just what I needed. Now, I’ve taken “Get what you need” a step beyond motherhood. I’ve noticed that I have a tendency to cater to others before even considering myself. To my detriment, I go without and even neglect my feelings in order to make others comfortable. Well now, I’m starting to change that. I’m learning how to love myself and be authentic when it comes to my feelings and preferences. Learning to say and do exactly what I want has helped me not only stay sane, but live a much happier and fulfilled life.Whether its ice cream from Coldstone or a trip to the movies, get what you need. You can’t be any good for others if you aren’t healthy. And while I KNOW this to be true, it’s still a journey for me.
4. You Can’t Give Up
I have to be honest. I had thoughts of giving up. I’ve struggled with depression in my past and I even had thoughts of suicide at one point. After several days of no sleep, constant feeding and feeling defeated; I had gotten to the point where I wanted to just stop being a mom. The only problem with that is, it’s IMPOSSIBLE to stop being a mom at this point. With most things in life, you can make the decision to give up and walk away; and at times, I have made that decision. Motherhood is a responsibility that I will have for life and I can’t simply give up on it. My baby girl didn’t ask to be here and it would be unfair to her if I just decided to give up on being her mother. Once I realized that this wasn’t something that I could just walk away from, I was forced to rise to the occasion. Giving up simply isn’t an option and now; I’m applying that mentality to other areas of my life. I repeat: giving up is not an option. Applying this mentallity to my life has pushed me through to some amazing opportunities and helped me to see beyond my fears and apprehensions. I’ve learned that if I can make it through every day that is behind me; I can do anything.
5. It Gets Easier
It. Gets. Easier. These words were so comforting for me when I heard them from some of my favorite mommy friends. They were honestly the words that I held onto when I felt like I could not keep going and they rang true. It truly does get easier over time. I think life is like that in a sense. Life may always feel like a roller coaster and there will be days that feel unbearable; but as we continue to trust God, love ourselves and keep moving, it will get easier. I am in a much better place than I was two months ago and I believe that in two months, I’ll be in an even better place. While we have to be intentional about our growth and adaptation to life circumstance, I believe that when we are; it will get easier.