Time to get real folks. Pregnancy and motherhood are amazing, wonderful, gratifying experiences beyond your wildest dreams, you bet they are. They are also (collectively and otherwise) extremely challenging, exhausting, frustrating and at times, overwhelming.
It is hard being a new Mom especially the first time around. You think you have a good understanding of what to expect. You have talked to your Mom, other Mom's you trust, asked all of the right questions of your doctor, read all of the right books, attended all of the suggested classes and seminars. You tell yourself you are not going to be "one of those Moms" who panic over everything, who are overprotective, who check on their baby 17 times during a 30 minute nap. NO, NOT YOU. All of a sudden you find yourself holding this precious angel you have waited so long to meet and suddenly - as if you hadn't read a thing, listened to advice, talked to your doctor at all - you panic.
The euphoria that follows immediately after you see that precious little one may fade slightly that first day you find yourself at home. Alone. No doctors, nurses, midwives, Grandma's, or in some cases spouses. You start to question everything that you are doing, everything that you aren't doing. You get advice from anyone who will give it and then you realize everyone has given you different advice. Now what?
You will cry. You will sob uncontrollably and you will question your ability to take care of this precious life. You will wonder how they let YOU walk out of the hospital with the sole responsibility for another life. You will wonder if you will ever sleep again, wear non-maternity clothes again, feel human again.
You will get through it. YOU WILL. It can be difficult to see the other side when you are right in the middle of it but it DOES get easier. Your baby doesn't hate you, you are not hurting them or depriving them of nutrition or damaging them for the rest of their lives (although you will apologize to them constantly for thinking you are doing just that). If breast feeding doesn't work out or you don't want to try it at all, your child will be OK. Formula is NOT RAT POISON, as I recently heard a very wise Mommy say. Apply this across the board - some things will work for you, some will not. As long as you are not causing harm to yourself, your baby or others around you, do what is right for you, your baby and your family.
You will make mistakes, you will cut their tiny little fingers while clipping their nails (check), you will accidentally poke them in the eye (check), you will startle them when you don't realize they are so focused on something else (check). You will be blacklisted by your pediatrician for calling every day (several times) to ask questions you know the answer to but just want to "make sure" you are doing the right thing (check, check).
When days are tough, just remember a few things:
- YOU are the most important thing in your baby's world, really, you are.
- YOU are capable, strong and willing - after all, whether you carried the baby yourself for 9 months or used a surrogate, struggled with fertility or got pregnant right away, adopted by choice or necessity - YOU brought this life into your world and that is POWERFUL.
- YOU should not expect yourself to be up to par with your "former" self...you have just given birth, you are sleep deprived, you are anxious, you are sustaining another life....give yourself a break sister, seriously.
- YOU can ask for help and YOU DO need a break. Ask your Mom, your sister, your friends, your doorman or a complete stranger on an airplane - if help is around (and I know how hard it can be to relinquish any sort of control with YOUR baby to anyone) - take the help.
- YOU are NOT ALONE. You are not the first nor will you be the last mother to think maybe, just maybe, you weren't cut out for this.
- YOU will look at that sweet little face and for a moment, a minute, an hour or a day, and in that sweet face you will find the strength to try it all again. Over and over. Every day UNTIL.
Motherhood is not all "rainbows and skittles" as a friend recently expressed to me. Your marriage may take a back seat, your work may suffer. You may not look or feel yourself for months or even years. Your friends may wonder if you have been entered into the witness protection program, and after passing by a mirror and not recognizing the woman looking back at you, you may wonder the exact same thing.
You WILL surface. You WILL find pure joy in that sweet little laugh, that precious little hand holding tight to your finger. You WILL figure it out only for everything to suddenly change again. You will get pooped on, spit up on, peed on or perhaps (if you're just having a REALLY great day), the trifecta (and bonus if it happens in public). You will snap at your husband, partner, co-worker, other children,or the random lady in line at the grocery store telling you "Maybe your baby is hungry?" when you are unable to stop their screaming in the check-out line. Genius. Why didn't YOU think of that?
You WILL be OK. You WILL find other Mommies to relate to, talk with, spend time with and gather advice from. You MAY lose some friends, you WILL learn some hard lessons. You may feel you have lost your independence and identity as anyone other than "So-and-So's Mommy"....but it WILL NOT be this way forever. And, from what I gather from those who have been there done that, when forever comes you will be wishing, missing and cherishing those days you once wanted so badly to end.
The only STANDARD in MOTHERHOOD is THERE IS NO STANDARD. There is no bar to jump over, no medal awarded to the Mommy with the best sleeper, best eater, fastest grower, or the over achiever.
The prize, instead, is lying in your arms smiling up at you with no other intention than to let you know YOU are THEIR MOMMY. YOU are important to them. They NEED you, in whatever form you may exist on any given day.
They THINK YOU ARE THE BEST THING IN THE WORLD. TO THEM YOU ARE PERFECT, TO THEM YOU ARE EVERYTHING.
And THAT is enough.
It was one of those weekends with fog and rain, not quite cold but damp and cool. It was the perfect excuse to make one of my favorite soups, adapted over the years from my Mom's recipe.
Broccoli Cheese Soup
1 Package Quinoa Pasta
20 Oz. Organic Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded finely
2.5 Cups Organic 2% Milk (you can use 1% or Skim however 2% is what I prefer for this recipe)
8 Cups Organic Chicken Broth
1 Large Organic White Onion, peeled and diced finely
1 Bunch Organic Celery, leaves removed, hearts chopped finely
2 Large Organic Heads of Broccoli, stems and leaves removed, chopped finely
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons Ground Black Pepper
2 Teaspoons Celery Salt
2 Teaspoons Sea Salt
1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
2 Tablespoons Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- In a large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic, sauteing until the onions are just clear (stirring frequently)
- Add chicken broth, bring to a boil (uncovered)
- Add quinoa, cook for 6 minutes (uncovered)
- Reduce heat to medium, add broccoli, celery, and dry spices, cook for 8-10 minutes (uncovered)
- Reduce heat to medium low, add cheese and cook for an additional 6 minutes (uncovered)
- Turn heat off and gently fold in milk, stirring until well combined
- Serve immediately or enjoy for up to 5 days in the fridge
I am linking up this week with Yeah Write (formerly Lovelinks) - check out some great small blogs and be sure to vote for your favorites on Thursday!