The first few weeks of motherhood will probably always blend in my brain, a smudged smear of sleeplessness, sharp learning curves, and intense love and happiness, yes, but also so many feelings of just being overwhelmed.
What I didn’t know was that these moments were paving the way for me to find my own mama strength.
The ups and downs of new mom life can feel so overwhelming in the moment (not to mention the effect of those flooding hormones have on your emotions!), and for me, one of the hardest things to manage was my daughter’s fussiness.
Those moments when I felt like I had tried everything—nursing myself dry, rocking and bouncing until it felt like my arms would fall off, singing my throat raw—and still she cried. In those moments, I would stare at her tiny, distressed face and feel wholly unequipped to be her mama.
But as low as the moments of helplessness are, the wins of new mama life are restoring. When I would finally find the solution, or even just wait out some developmental storm, I would feel the confidence come rushing back.
The fussy moments were where my strength was born. The fussy moments showed me how I was born for this mama challenge.
It wasn’t always easy to remember in the moment, though. So if I could go back, this is what I would tell my new mama self:
When you feel like you can’t take five more minutes of fussiness…remember asking for help is not a sign of weakness. I had a village of love and support around me, and I felt like it was cheating somehow to take advantage of it. So. Wrong. Call a friend, hand the baby to your partner, ask your mom to sit for even half an hour so you can nap or take a walk to recharge. You are still learning how to be a mama, but you will get it.
When your usual solutions for fussiness stop working…remember that motherhood is a constant learning experience and be open to new information that can help make life with this new little one easier. Did you know that babies who get too warm tend to be fussier and spend less time in one place? That’s what makes solutions like the DreamComfort Bouncer and Swing/Rocker combo from Ingenuity so helpful— not only do they keep your little one soothed, they also feature mesh panels that create a cooler environment for babies. (Genius.) When my baby is calm, I can’t help but feel calmer too.
When you feel like you just can’t figure it out…remember that sometimes babies just need to work out an emotion on their own. A mom friend once told me that all babies need to go from zero to ten at least once a day, and it was immensely helpful to remind myself during a fussy breakdown, “This is her ten for the day. It has to happen, and then it will be over.”
When you feel like you’ve hit the mama wall…remember that sometime in the not too distant future, you will look back on this moment and see how strong you’ve become since. There is beauty in the fussy moments, and sometimes that beauty is the strength you gain.
The fussy moments will probably never be our favorite to remember, but they are the ones that show us what we’re made of. You’ve got this, mama.