"So, what's it like being a new mom?"
When a mother is asked this question, you might hear short replies. Like, "It's great!" or "It's something else!" Meanwhile, there are probably at least a dozen words and thoughts coursing through her brain. Because there are at least that many scattered emotions going on at any given moment for someone who has just brought a new life into the world.
New motherhood is emotional—full stop.
If I had to answer this question in one word, I'd say "amazing." It's one word that captures not only the awestruck wonder of new life but also how shocking it is to be thrust into something so all-consuming.
But there really is so much more to it.
The whole first week of my son's life, I felt like I was living on a cloud of bliss. Everywhere I looked there was something to smile about, whether it was my precious baby, my sweet visitors, a welcome plate of food, or even my image in the mirror.
I know a lot of women struggle with how their bodies look postpartum, but all I could think of when I saw my new figure was how incredible my body was. My body grew a baby, safely delivered him into the world and now it has adapted to be able to feed him!
For the first time in my life, I didn't look in the mirror and wish I were thinner or more toned. Instead, I just saw beautiful endurance.
The first week was also full of so many fun firsts. The first time loved ones got to meet my son. The first time taking him home. The first time getting to use all the outfits and gadgets my husband and I spent months preparing for him.
Meanwhile, everyone was so busy doing things for me that I didn't have to worry about anything besides the baby. How great is that?
I snapped at my husband around day seven or eight and tears immediately filled my eyes. "I've ruined it," I cried, "everything's been so wonderful and we've been such a great team, and now I've messed it all up!" And it truly felt like our lives had been a fairytale for that week, and my upset over the dishes might as well have been a wicked witch barging into the scene.
Little did I know there were a lot of quips and frustrations on the horizon. Trying to console a baby who is screaming in your ear when you're sleep deprived and have already done everything you know how to do (twice!) has got to be one of the greatest tests of patience I've ever experienced.
The number of new duties that were occupying my time, the endless questions I had to Google because I just had no clue, and the exhaustion of nursing and segmented sleep were are all extremely challenging. Feeding someone else every couple of hours for a half hour or more at a time really ate up a big chunk of my day!
And then trying to work around that schedule to do things I love often felt like an insurmountable obstacle. The first months of my baby's life, I felt so frenzied because I was constantly hurrying in order to get everything done that I wanted to do.
The first time my baby got sick (and got me sick too), I cried. How am I supposed to take care of a baby when I need someone to take care of me? I wondered, feeling panicked and hopeless and so very unfit for the task.
I texted my best friend some woeful message and ended up with a gift basket of soup and tea on my front step with the most thoughtful card of encouragement. And then I cried some more.
And yet, with all of its trials and sacrifices—new motherhood manages to be one of the most delightful experiences.
My dad had written me a letter before my son was born, telling me and my husband to walk through the house before leaving for the hospital. He said to take note of how much fuller the house was when we walked back into it with our baby. I can now testify to the reality of that fullness, and even more so for my heart itself.
My mentor had told me my heart was about to be "enlarged," and that's truly what it feels like. There is so much love and emotion that my heart must have enlarged in order to fit it all in.
When your baby smiles right at you or cuddles up to you while you sway him in your arms or says "Mama" for the first time, the warmth it stirs within you is overwhelming. Dancing with my son or even just seeing his sleeping face after a brief absence from him is like the most special gift I could have ever asked for.
And so, while any amount of words can never do new motherhood justice, my goal is to try to stop and appreciate the wonder of it all. I have been amazed at my body's life-sustaining abilities, at how perfectly crafted my son is, at how quickly and vibrantly he grows and at how my faith has equipped me to keep up.
"What's it like to be a new mom?"
It's downright amazing.