When Sawyer was born, it was one of the best days of my life. The euphoria of having and bringing home a new baby is a high I’ll never forget. I was walking on sunshine, rainbows were coming out of my ears, and I swear her car seat was driven home atop a unicorn.
But after a few days, maybe a week, things started to change for me. I started to get scared, terrified even, that my life as I’d known it was over. The constant nursing, lack of sleep, frankly, lack of adult conversation really got to me. I started to wonder, “Will I ever feel like myself again?”
And it wasn’t sadness. Not really. It was fear, 100%. Hide under the covers, something’s under the bed fear. I was so afraid that I’d lost myself, given myself over to a life of servitude to this sentient potato that would forever suck my life force out and demand total and complete attention.
Because of that fear, I tried like an insane person to get back to living the way I used to. The only problem is, when you’ve carried a human being for nine months, given birth, and are now nourishing that same human with nothing but your own body, getting back to the “norm” is next to impossible. But I didn’t know that, and so I fought against nature.
I was scared I would never look the same. I had severe “fomo” (fear of missing out). I was worried my career would tank.
I look back and see myself doing a super intense workout routine at eight weeks postpartum. It was basically a ton of burpees, jump squats and other callisthenic exercises meant to totally transform your body in 12 weeks.
Keep in mind, I didn’t even do this type of a workout before I got pregnant. It wrecked my physically and emotionally for weeks, breaking down in tears regularly in the middle of workouts, until I relented and switched to a gentler routine.
I remember doing burpees when my baby napped instead of getting the 40 winks I desperately needed. I remember my body screaming at me for four days after a leg workout, refusing to walk properly after the beating I’d given my muscles.
Looking back, I wish I would have told myself to chill. To go for a walk with my baby, to do some gentle stretching, and not to do a single one of those burpees. For me, it was the wrong exercise at the wrong time, done for the wrong reasons. I was terrified this life of overwhelming care was forever. That I had made a horrible mistake.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED my baby. All I wanted to do was stare at her all day long. But I was terrified that if I did, I’d never get back to “the land of the living”.
I was so scared that I tried to move into new phases too quickly. We ended up going on a road trip with baby when she was ten weeks old, up to my parent’s cabin. She cried for six hours each way, and slept horribly while we were there. I came home more exhausted than when I’d left for the vacation.
Again, I was terrified that I’d never get a fun, relaxing vacation again.
And on it went.
But I must tell you. You, mother with a new baby. It is not forever. It was not forever for me. Now I have a nine month old. My beautiful daughter, who comes with me almost everywhere I go, and I LOVE having her there. I love having adventures with her, and seeing her explore new places. I just wrap her up in the Beluga Wrap and off we go!
She still nurses, but not every HOUR. It’s still a lot of work, but there’s so much more downtime now! She sleeps 12 hours a night, she has at least two one hour naps every day, she plays in her playpen for five to ten minutes if I need to have a shower or make some food.
It gets easier. You remember who you were, who you used to be. And now, you’ve got this awesome partner in crime to adventure through life with.
I so wish I could go back in time and tell new mom me to just chill. That life is fluid. It changes, but you don’t lose who you are. You are still capable of all the things you used to do. But they can wait. They should wait. Because right now, you’ve got the most beautiful blessing sitting right in front of you, who loves you fiercely with every fiber of their being.
Enjoy them. Be with them. Be present in the moment. Soak in the newborn smell, it disappears way too quickly.
You will fit your old clothes. You will get the urge to wear heels again. You will feel strong again. But mama, you just gave birth. You are strong in an entirely new way. Your body stretched and shifted in ways that are plain creepy if you think about it too much.
So don’t overthink it. Just love the vessel that made your baby.
Nourish it with love, sleep, and good food. Nourish your mind with happy things, and good music. Nourish your heart with hugs and laughter. And soon, without even knowing it, you’ll find yourself back where you started, but with a new heart. One that beats outside your body.