I’m not sure I can do this.
The thought creeps up in those first few weeks (months??) of motherhood more often than I’d like to admit. It whispers at 4 a.m. after our fifth wakeup of the night. It taunts at 7 a.m. when I pass on my usual cup of lifeblood—that is, coffee—because it upsets my baby’s stomach. It screams at 6 p.m. while I bounce my crying baby, just trying to survive that final hour before my husband gets home.
I’m not sure I can do this.
It may as well be the unofficial anthem of new mamas. Overwhelmed, under-rested new mamas are the ultimate sink or swim social experiment.
But I’m here to tell you, from someone who has made it to the other side, yes, you can do this.
You can make it through the stormy days. When my daughter was first born, there were whole weeks when she would be going through some new developmental milestone and I would wonder if I could weather it. Suddenly her sleep patterns would change, or she would get a cold that sidelined everything, or it seemed like the fussing began from the moment she opened her eyes in the morning and didn’t end until she closed them again at night.
I would put my head in my hands and think, “I’m not sure I can do this.”
But that’s the funny thing about these tiny people who take over our lives—nothing ever stays the same. Just as quickly as I had thought I lost my sunny baby to this cranky, constantly crying creature, she would be back, happier than ever, and boasting a new skill or tooth she hadn’t had the week before.
Hold out for the sun, mama. It’s never far away.
You can make it through the self-doubt. Becoming a mom is packed with pressure. There is so much you are suddenly responsible for, and you get so little instruction.
I remember sitting outside the hospital after giving birth, waiting for my husband to pull up the car and staring down at this tiny, perfect face thinking, “You mean you’re just letting me leave? With something this important?” But the truth is, those hospital nurses already knew what would become so clear to me in a matter of days—I already had everything I needed.
I had a heart so full of love for this baby that I would never let anything bad happen to her. I had a drive to care for her so strong that I would either find a way to solve any problem that came up, or I would make one.
I would—and did—figure it out. And you will too, mama.
You can make it through the moments where you don’t know what to do. Oh, did I forget to mention those moments will happen? Unfortunately, uncertainty is one of those things that will always be part of life. (I know, our moms always looked like they knew exactly what to do! So misleading!)
But, mama? You can go ahead and cut yourself some slack. There will be moments when you just don’t know what to do—like the time your baby wakes up at 4 a.m. and is WIDE AWAKE. For seemingly no good reason at all.
Or like the time she suddenly develops a runny nose and cough and you’re not sure if it’s serious or just a cold. Or like the time she refuses to do anything but nurse for a solid day.
These are the moments when you learn the most sacred mom secret of all: You are not alone. Millions of women have and are going through the same thing you are. Ask your mom, your sister, your best friend, and they will be there for you the way mine were for me.
The thing is, even if everything goes wrong, even if you have to handle it all on your own, you can do this. You will figure it out. You will learn to trust yourself. And one day, you’ll find yourself saying these same things to another scared new mama about to embark on this great adventure.
The moments of “I’m not sure I can do this” might never fully go away. (Personally, I’m still a little nervous about the teenage years…) But with every hurdle you clear, every mountain you conquer, you’ll remind yourself that it doesn’t matter if you know you can do it or not. Because you’re already doing it, mama.