29 July 2014

When Love Feels Heavy

Before I was a parent, I was the perfect one. People told me my life would change. People told me I would be tired. That parenthood would be the greatest and hardest thing I would ever do. 
Yeah yeah yeah.
I know. I know.
I knew everything. 
My family would just smile and nod at my ignorance, and I wonder now if they were scared for me.
I recently sat in a friend's baby shower. I was surrounded by women making light hearted jokes about new parenthood, about sleep depravation, and pregnancy cravings. They exchanged recommendations for swaddle blankets and butt creams. Underneath the small talk and "oohing" and "ahhing" over tiny gifted baby clothes, sat the realness, the hardness of motherhood. I could feel that every mom in the room, behind their sleepless sunken eyes, knew what that meant; they had felt that weight, but they only had the heart to give gifts and hugs and congratulations. I sat there in silence, when all I wanted to do was talk and talk and talk about how new motherhood really can be. To let her in on all the real secrets of being a mother.
I wanted so badly to prepare my friend somehow for the wave that was about to wash over her.
I was there too, belly rounded with life, yesterday. I had the iPhone app, the "Welcome Baby" books, the nursery that I had pinned on my Pinterest. I had the trendy pacifiers, the over packed hospital bag, the pretty dresses my girl would probably never wear. We toured the hospital. I googled birth stories while rounding my hips on a yoga ball. And I learned all about how you breath a baby out of your lady parts.
I remember eating whole pineapples, and choking down giant Evening Primrose Oil pills by the handful to will my baby out of my uterus. 
I was ready.
It took what felt like seven years for her to arrive. More specifically, 41 weeks and 1 day. That extra eight days made me extra prepared. I remember sitting, ecstatic, in the hospital, after the epidural had been administered. I was too giddy to sleep. 
Oh, the time had finally come, and I was so ready.
Then in a blink, she was here. She was tiny and marveling. She was so incredibly beautiful. She was perfect.
But wait.
I am not ready.
This is so hard.
I am so tired.
Why hadn't anyone prepared me for this?
I. Know. Nothing.
If I was sitting across from that very pregnant, very eager and naive version of myself, I would tell her this:
The love you will feel is nothing like you have felt before. It will be foreign and familiar all at once. It will fill you to the very top of your heart, nearly spilling over. The thing about this kind of love, though, is that it can feel heavy. Disproportional. You may feel like you will nearly break in half from the top-heaviness. You will not be able to tell the difference between exhaustion and depression, and that darkness will rob you from what should be the most tender months of your daughter's new life. 
Your baby will cry, a lot. Your days will both begin and end with the saddest screams you will ever hear. Your body will respond the way that it is programmed to - with panic. You will google everything from "dissecting baby poo" to "newborn who hates life." And you will come up short. You will always come up short.
Your baby will only sleep in ten minute increments.
In a plastic rocking chair. (Don't buy a plastic rocking chair.)
In the bathroom.
With the bath water running. 
You will feel like you are going mad, day after day, alone in that bathroom. Between the sound of the water running and her screams, you may feel like your nerve endings will be permanently frayed. 
At the endless ER trips that you take you will be written off as "The Paranoid New Mom." (Press on.) They will give you pamphlets on "Colic," and that just will not cut it. For awhile, nursing will be excruciating, and your baby will fight it, hard. Contrary to the laws of nature, Anabel will not come out knowing how to siphon milk from your body. Also, panic will flood your body when your milk lets down the majority of the time. Yes, breastfeeding induced anxiety attacks are a thing, and it will happen to you. (Hormones are jerks.)
Did I mention how depleted you will feel? 
Eating, and sleeping, and showering are not a part of this season (not often anyway), and right now, in the thick of it, this season will feel never ending. While others' newborns are napping sweetly in their stylish organic leggings via Instagram, yours is miserable. There are over 2 billion mothers in the world, yet you will feel deeply alone. Compared to everyone else, you are failing. No matter how many hands you have on deck, you will be deserted.  
This love will crush your ego. It will destroy your capability to trust yourself. The fear that creeps in the shadows of this love will paralyze you. Strangers will call your newborn "mean." Loved ones will say you are giving your baby too much attention. (Neither of those things exist.) You will feel guilty for not measuring up. You will feel guilty for feeling guilty. You will feel guilty for feeling guilty for feeling guilty. You will cry over absurd things, like not being pregnant anymore. And over massive things, like the way your body has transformed because of pregnancy. You may never feel like you will get the hang of carrying this love.
But what if I told you that one day your daughter would smile? That she would even laugh? And so will you. Her intestines will eventually develop and digest food, and she will not scream excessively anymore. You will find answers to everything you questioned. I would even tell you that your doctor will admit that you were right all along. Saying, "you guys owe me an 'I told you so' on that one." That will feel pretty great. 
I would also tell you that it gets better. Oh, how it does. She will learn how to sleep and nurse. And I would even tell you she gets really great at both.  I would tell you to find the hope in your daughter's eyes. As they lighten, so will that weight. 
Though you may never have parenthood all figured out, there will be a day when you will find a way to wrap that love around yourself, instead of being buried in it. 
And though it is hard to believe, one day you will have a vivacious, smart, and unbelievably happy little girl. A girl that absolutely adores the world. And you will have clean hair, and time to make breakfast for yourself in the morning. 
You will.
Hold on to that truth. There will be a day that you will marvel over the fact that the girl in front of you is the same baby that was so unhappy before.
You will be better. You will grow. You will adjust, and settle, and adjust again. That is what motherhood is, I think. Finding ways through the good heartbreak to fit more love inside of you. There will always be something that stretches your capacity for more. You will learn how to balance the goodness with the heaviness. 
And, I beg you, embrace that things will always feel unfinished. Let unfinished be okay. Let unfinished be enough.
It is enough.
It is enough.
It is enough.
And forget what you see on Instagram,
You are one hell of a mother. 

(I would also insist on researching D-MER, MSPI, Silent Reflux, and buying bulk of Gerber Soothe Colic Drops, & Colic Calm :)

Originally seen on Coffee + Crumbs


  1. My soon-to-be-husband and I started trying to concieve three months ago. Ever since then I switch between being ecstatic over finally becoming a mom and being scared because "I can´t even make myself happy, how shall I take care of a baby?" I try to make myself believe that all these feelings are normal and that I will grow into that role with time. But the fear doesn´t fully go away - and I assume it won´t ever again ;)

    Thank you for sharing these candid thoughts and experiences!!!!
    Best wishes from Germany.

  2. Your writing style is so beautiful and honest. Thank you for this post.

  3. You are such a beautiful writer. I look forward to your posts so very much!
    This post describes exactly how I feel. My son just turned one month old and I'm still recovering physically (from an unplanned c-section) and mentally. Thank you for writing a post like this, I've already shared it with fellow new moms and mamas to be <3

  4. I have nursed three babies and I never had D-MER until my third. It's horrific. She is 3 months old and every time she latches, I feel this overwhelming gut-wrenching sadness, like I just found out my mom died. It's all hormones and I know that now, but it really takes the wind out of my sails, to put it lightly. I hope it goes away.

    Also, my first baby had reflux and the endless screaming and vomiting seriously made me go to one of the darkest places I've ever been in my life. Thank goodness for soothing formula and a doctor who was willing to tell it like it is (it was my milk).

    New motherhood is hard, but I will say that my next two kids haven't been so tough. Maybe it's because I know what to expect, maybe it's because God doesn't want me to slit my wrists, maybe it's because I'm older and wiser ... I don't know. But if every baby was as hard as my first, I'd only have one baby. It's not for the faint of heart!

  5. This is so great. I love reading the truth of motherhood. I am not yet a Mother, but posts like these prepare me for that day. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Oh my gosh, I feel like I wrote this myself (but you did the hard work behind it)! This post is really lovely.

    Over-packed diaper bag - check.
    Pineapple eating - check.
    Baby research - check.
    Feeling alone - check.
    Being totally ready - faux check.

    Super awesome post! And your daughter's name is lovely :)

  7. You did it again! You truly have a way with words. I am with you on all of this. Again, our babies were born on the same day. I have tried to tell my pregnant friends the truth. No one ever told me, and I wasn't prepared. I loved how you put that. It's hard to share that it's not all bliss and I don't understand why some mother's put up the front. I am also with you on--it gets better! When you're in the thick of it, you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. I like how you said, "You will not be able to tell the difference between exhaustion and depression, and that darkness will rob you from what should be the most tender months of your daughter's new life." I struggle everyday with wanting to go back to the first few months of my son's life and get a "do-over" I know he won't remember that time, but I wasn't at my best, and I feel I will forever feel guilty about that. Anyway, wanted to say thank you for your words! xo

  8. This was so on point. Thank you for this! Mommy of a 7 month old little amazing daughter :)

  9. Beautiful. Just beautiful.

    I will never be a mother to a child who spent time in my belly and will only be a mother if the Lord sees fit for an adoption to come my way. Still, I can completely grasp the nuances of motherhood from this eloquent,
    real post.

  10. Love it!! So true!! You make me fe el that Im not alone

  11. Hi,

    I nominated you for an Inspirational Blogger Award. It's up to you whether you accept it or continue on with it but I simply wanted you to know that even though I may not comment on your posts I still take something away from them. You really do inspire me :-)

    Here is my post if you'd like to check it out:

    Keep up the great work and I loved this post. I too was a naive and no one told me how tired I would be. The sleep deprivation is a horrible experience but it's worth it...


  12. Beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing. I'm 8 weeks in and this made me cry!

  13. Never ever stop writing. I am not a mother but oh boy. This is beautiful. Your honestly is incredible.

  14. Hi!

    I randomly found your blog 5 minutes ago. I sat down to read this. As a single mum to a 7month old girl has made me so lost in so many ways in life that I needed comfort, somebody, someone. Something. I wasn't sure.

    My daughter born on new years. It was something that I had always wanted, something I dreamed of fo years. When I finally got pregnant and my boyfriend walk out on me. I though to myself- I'm ready. I can do this, bring it on!

    First everything was going great but after weeks went by and months changed I realized that I my baby cryes all day long. I went to see doctors and they told me that she is suffering from colic. And they told me to just keep on going. At that point I was so tired that there never passed a day that I didn't call my mum and cry. Because I had no one to help me. I wasn't sure how much longer i could handle it. By the age of 4 months it was over. Her colic was gone, I actually thought that the reason she never slept was colic, not during the day and not that much at nights. Well unfortunatly she is still like that,7 months old and she doesn't sleep that much. Today just like yesterday she stayed up 12 hours, crying most of the time.

    I had to ask myself, what is happening to me? I am so tired of this heavy love. Noone seems to understand what I'm going though and I do not know how will I survive.

    When I found your post here today. I found hope. Just a little bit. But hope. That some day I will forget all these shedded tears and maybe, just maybe I can be myself again. Not just mum, but that person that I have so badly lost.

    My friend just found out she is expecting her first. I wanted to tell her that you are definetly ready but I will let her figure that our on herself:D

  15. I have a nine-week-old and I can't tell you how much this post resonated with me. I have bookmarked it and come back to read it on dark days for a good, encouraging cry. Thank you for your honesty and for helping those of us who feel so alone, realize we're not.

  16. This is so perfectly worded and inspirational. I have tried to describe that feeling many times and those are the words I was searching for... Heavy.
    You are so right, it is a "weight" that not many people talk about. I am over here in tears, laughing because I was there too. I wish new moms all had a chance to read this, even "seasoned" moms should read this.

    Thank you for the post. It's wonderful.

  17. Your blog is a true gift. I started reading when your post went viral, "Babies Ruin Bodies." I absolutely love it.