woman breastfeeding

Nothing, not the countless hours of research nor the pep talks from friends, could have prepared me for the sleeplessness of new motherhood. After my baby was born, I was paralyzed each night by a bleary-eyed mix of rage and sadness. My anger would come like an uncontrollable wave, ripping my feet from under me and slamming me with guilt.

Overall, I was a pretty happy new mama. Throughout the day I laughed at things like projectile poop and assuaged my newborn's cries with enthusiastic dance parties. I took pictures, sung lullabies and practiced babywearing like it was the latest workout trend. But I found that at one, two and three in the morning, my daughter turned into a mix of milk-vampire and screaming banshee.


Her cute pooping faces didn't make me giggle like they did in the middle of the day. They made me groan, occasionally scream and most commonly cry. Her wide-eyed stares didn't fill me with the confidence of her health and happiness. They made me feel undeniably alone.

Did I love my daughter? Unconditionally. I also wanted her to close her mouth and let me sleep.

The first time my phone beeped at midnight, it made me jump. I thought it was the smoke detector. I was sure there was a fire. I quickly planned the easiest way to extricate myself and my suckling baby from the house.

You can imagine my relief when I realized the beep was just a text message. There was no need to drop, cover and roll out the window. The digital note was from a fellow new mommy who had a few extra months' experiences under her bra.

She asked me how I was holding up. (I was going stark raving mad!)

She told me to text if I felt alone. (Alone? I was bloody stranded on an island losing my mind one white ounce of nourishment at a time.)

You can always text, she said. Books help, she suggested.

And voila—The Midnight Milk Readers was born.

It wasn't a very exclusive affair. Anyone was welcome, especially those experiencing hair loss and rocking a perfume of spoiled breast milk. Book selections were simple. They needed to keep us awake. (This included humor, sexy-time romance, adventure and drama.) They needed to be something that wouldn't scare us. (Horror stories and murder mysteries were for daytime book clubs when shadows and crying babies were nowhere to be found.)

And, all titles needed to be available for digital checkout through the public library. (We were new moms on a budget. Heck, we still are! Plus, digital books have the decided advantages of swipe left page-turning and dimly-lit room reading.)

There was no set reading schedule. We didn't establish weekly or monthly dinner dates. No one was required to write notes, suggest book-related field trips or offer supplemental reading material. Though, there was talk of one day sharing a bottle of wine, preferably sans babies, while we might or might not talk about books.

Mostly we just read. And texted. And shared OMGs over story bits and nipple bites. Suddenly, the walls that seemed to close in at midnight stood their ground. The sound of my baby guzzling breast milk like a prized pig stopped sending me into spin drive.

Other women joined our ranks from time to time. They didn't often read the books. Or even participate in the midnight text talks. It was more the knowledge that they could. Men were welcome, but they never joined. I assumed the occasional talk of engorged nipples and vaginal stitches wasn't their cup of tea.

So while members of the Midnight Milk Readers may have been minutes or hours apart, we were no longer alone. The gentle glow of text messages and ebooks lit up our lives with a lot more than a digital screen. It gave us camaraderie, a gift that outweighed all others—well, except maybe sleep.

I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.

And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3


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