Looking back at an old Facebook post that I made prior to giving birth now makes me laugh hysterically and even cringe a bit. See, I’m coming to the end of my maternity leave which means I have survived the newborn phase as a new mommy. Cheers to that! But, before you sip on that glass of wine or mom-tini (if you are breastfeeding or pregnant), read this first. You see, that cringe-y Facebook post was riddled with cocky statements made by yours truly that shunned advice because I had done my research and I wanted to do this on my own. Ha! I learned a lot…I mean, a whole lot. And by that, I mean that everything I thought this journey was going to be, went out the window and my ego was served to me alongside a huge slice of humble pie.
My birth experience was exceptional. Being familiar with the statistics on infant and maternal mortality rates for African American women was truly terrifying. I am grateful to God and am blessed to have had a successful and safe vaginal birth. Certified nurse-midwives delivered my baby and I couldn’t be more pleased. My nurses were fabulous and my husband was extremely supportive. It truly was memorable and better than I could have ever imagined. After spending the night at the hospital, my husband and I could not wait to get home to start our new lives together with this brand new bundle of joy. However, after the arrival home, my life was anything, but the wonderful and perfect picture of motherhood that I had envisioned. As I reflect on those early days, I am overwhelmed with emotions. Everyone says that as soon as you lay eyes on your baby, you will fall instantly in love. The heavens will open and angels will sing, yada, yada, yada. Well…that was not exactly the case for me. Don’t get me wrong, my kid is the best thing to ever happen to me and I love him with everything in me. But, in those first few days, the bonding wasn’t instant. It wasn’t that I wasn’t excited and looking forward to being a mommy, but I was so overwhelmed with anxiety and fear surrounding my new responsibilities and role that I couldn’t bond properly. Oh yeah, sleep deprivation does not help, either. There I was feeling guilty because I was so blessed to have a healthy baby boy, but every time I was alone, I cried. I cried a lot the first week or so. I did some research and came to the conclusion that what I was experiencing was the “Baby Blues.” According to the MayoClinic.org, most new moms will experience the baby blues. It’s a short period that begins around the second day after delivery and can last to around 2 weeks and causes mood swings, anxiety, sadness, and crying spells. But, if you have a more severe form of depression that lingers after the first 2 weeks, please contact your healthcare provider as you may have postpartum depression. Thankfully, my symptoms improved after a few days and my journey into motherhood got better.
Babies cry. After getting through the emotional train wreck of the first week or so, I started to feel better. Seriously, they cry a lot. Although I didn’t have an immediate attachment experience and I had yet to hear the angels sing, I did begin enjoying bonding and getting to know my baby. My crying baby. In fact, not only did the angels skip out on the party, my baby decided to fill in for them with his very own song. I’m sure you can guess what that song was. Ding! Ding! Ding! You guessed it…the “Cry!!!” Better known as the shrieking, wailing, nonstop song of the “baby people.” At least that’s what it was for my kid. He was clean. He was fed. He slept. Sometimes. 😒 So why was he crying? I wanted to be his hero and make everything ok, but it never seemed like enough. Did he not like my breast milk? (I had production issues so I had to supplement with formula) Did he not like the formula? Are the diapers itchy? Is he gassy? Is the house too cold or too hot? So many questions ran through my mind. Does he not like me? Am I a bad mom? As a new mom, you don’t want to hear this because you want to do everything in your power to make your baby content. But, you will learn just as I had to learn, that we are doing the best that we can and that’s enough. And ultimately, babies will be babies…and babies cry.
So the angels did finally arrive, albeit fashionably late, but nevertheless, I am starting to get the hang of motherhood. We are finally starting to get into a routine and I’m enjoying every part of this journey. All of the overwhelming emotions did hit me eventually and I cannot get enough of my sweet boy. I don’t sleep much these days and my priorities are completely shaken up. Somehow, everything I did, before I had my son, seems dim when compared to my life with him. I still have a lot of mommy anxiety and I’m not sure that will ever go away. I will always worry and I know this is only the beginning. The popular quote about “your heart being outside of your body” is the perfect narration of the relationship I have with my son. He has changed me so much in these first few months. He’s everything I never knew I needed and I can’t wait to see where our journey takes us. And you know what? …the crying isn’t so bad.