It was 2 am when I heard it—it was faint at first. Her little whimpers began to lull me out of a deep sleep. I tried to pretend I was dreaming— that the baby I just rocked to sleep two hours ago wasn't already hungry again. But as the whimpers turned into full-on cries, I pulled myself out of bed.
I walked to my daughter Adeline's crib with an overwhelming feeling of exhaustion. I looked down to see her staring back at me with one of her famous grins and instantly, I felt giddy. No matter how tired I was—I still had so much love for this little bundle who had yet to learn the value of a full night's sleep.
As I fed her a bottle, I watched her start to close her eyes, beginning to fall asleep in my arms. I glanced over at my husband sleeping so peacefully beside me and I was overcome with the joy of motherhood. This moment—this picture-perfect moment of my little family—was what life was all about.
That was hard to envision when I was pregnant—what life would be like, as much as I tried to, or as much as other people told me how it'd be.
Because when I was pregnant, I heard it all. The good, the bad, the...things I didn't want to hear at all…
I received warnings from veteran mothers advising me to sleep as much as I could, to take care of as many loose ends as possible and to enjoy a final vacation with my husband as if it would be my last. They shared stories about their children's arrival into the world, their first words, their first steps.
Above all, I was told time and time again about the incredible love I would feel for this little baby I had yet to meet.
I believed every word but that did not prepare me for the actual experience of it all. Upon Adeline's birth I truly felt this all-consuming love for my baby who I literally just laid eyes on. As she lay on my chest looking up at me, my heart's ability to feel complete became dependent on her.
When Adeline was a few weeks old, my mom graciously offered to keep her overnight so that my husband and I could go on a day trip together and get a good night's sleep. I so looked forward to our mini vacation but when we were there, I struggled to enjoy our time because I missed my baby so much.
I woke up every couple hours thinking I had a baby to feed, only to realize that she wasn't in bed with me. Again I felt a pang of heartbreak from this small separation from my baby. At 8 am the next morning, I was at my mom's—ready to get my baby back. Even though it was only one night we were away, it was almost unbearable.
Every feeling I had about motherhood in general was so big. I felt so deeply, it felt as though my heart was cracked open. I experienced plenty of moments where I've been so consumed with exhaustion, I had to just hold my daughter and cry. Days where my hormones were so jumbled that my poor husband got the lash that came from my irritability.
In the very beginning I often felt like I was losing my mind. I didn't have all the answers. I didn't know why my baby would cry for what seemed like hours on end, I didn't know if she was warm enough or too warm. I didn't know if I was giving her enough time on her tummy or enough time sitting up.
One day it all clicked. I didn't always know what I was doing and I didn't want to drive myself crazy pretending that was the case. If someone had a parenting tip for me, I would actually consider it and decided if it made sense to apply to our lives rather than immediately write it off.
Motherhood, I'm realizing, has humbled me. I am able to listen and learn from those who have raised babies before me. I've allowed myself to be vulnerable and have accepted help from others.
Giving up on the need to have control over every aspect of my daughter's life helped me calm down and accept that no one expected me to be perfect, so I shouldn't put that pressure on myself. My husband can vouch for the fact that when I lessened my grip on trying to control everything and I let go of the unrealistic need to do everything just right—I became more pleasant to be around, and I actually enjoyed motherhood more.
So, my friend, if you're feeling overwhelmed, or like these new mama feelings are all just too big—hang in there.
The hard moments will pass as quickly as they came and will be replaced with a darling smile or a sweet babble that will make you forget it happened. I can finally say after three months that I am beginning to feel like myself again. It took me a while to fully understand, but I've finally accepted that I am not able to run on a perfect timeline now that I have a baby.
I am now comfortable with the fact that my daughter determines the course of our days, at least for now. And I am okay with the fact that we're figuring this out together, as we go.
Motherhood is one of those "you don't know until you know" type of things. And now that I know, it's way better than I could have ever imagined.