Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s have some real talk.
Having a baby is the best and most important thing in the world. Yet everyone around you is so busy telling you that it is the best and most important thing in the world that they’ll probably forget to tell you that being the mother of a newborn is also one of the hardest things you might ever do.
I’m not sure why we always leave that part out. Sure, we’ll playfully allude to the fact that you won’t be getting any sleep and that you’ll be changing a lot of diapers, but that doesn’t even begin to cover it.
Your baby will cry, and you won’t know why they’re crying. You will tell yourself that you’re prepared and mentally perform your checklist of actions. But when your swaddled, well-fed, burped, changed baby keeps crying, you will feel helpless. You might even feel mad.
You will play peekaboo for literally hours on end and wonder how this brand new human has a longer attention span than you, a grown woman. You will sing along to kids’ songs and wonder what torturer came up with the ones that talk about cradles falling out of treetops when you’re already paranoid about keeping your child safe.
You will wake up on your own the first night your baby sleeps for more than three hours at a time, and you will be terrified that they haven’t screamed for you yet. You will drag your exhausted butt out of bed and listen to make sure they’re still breathing. Then they will sense your presence and wake up, screaming to assure you that they are still very much alive.
You will repeat this process over and over again.
You will be so, so lonely. You will wish you were born in different times when new mothers were part of villages full of aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters, brothers, and parents living within shouting distance.
You will talk to your baby. Your baby will not talk back. You will smile at your baby. Your baby will stare at you blankly.
You will desperately try to make small talk with the cashier at the supermarket, silently willing her to please, please engage you in adult conversation.
You will wonder why you can do calculus, but nobody ever taught you how to cook one-handed while holding a newborn attached to your breast. You will curse the public school system, and you will curse your fancy college degree.
You will host visitors who insist that you don’t need to do anything to prepare, but in spite of their insistence, you will spend your baby’s precious nap time trying to make the house look like a bomb didn’t hit.
Resist that temptation.
Ask me for help. Ask your friends for help. Ask your neighbor for help. See all these onesies you’ve received as gifts today? That’s just our way of saying we’re here for you.
Let us see your messy house. And don’t serve us coffee because, I swear, we really do not care. Tell us to come over and hold the baby while you finally take an uninterrupted shower that lasts for more than three minutes. Maybe you’ll even use conditioner this time.
People want to help more than you realize. Sometimes they just don’t know how to offer, or where to start.
You will survive. You will look back on these days with pride and with joy. But in the meantime, let us help you. Please, please ask.
We’ll be waiting.
Your Friend Who Has Been Through It Before