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New Motherhood 101: On Allowing Ourselves Time for Self Care
When you’re in it, you’re IN IT and it can be hard, so very hard to see the light. Save for the incredible light of being swathed in the glow of having a newborn baby. That tingly, no-sleep, often (but not always), heady place of new motherhood. Those first few months could blind a person with their brilliance. I mean, the scent of a baby’s head alone, still to this day, induces letdown.
TMI? I know some of you are with me on this….
The first few months of motherhood, specifically with your first, are like nothing you’ve ever experienced before or ever will again. The change of hormones, your new life, your new baby, the demands, the love, the challenges and getting to know and accept the new you. Your new body, your new life. The new you that you have to grow into without losing your womanhood and growing into motherhood. Apparently we’re supposed to do this all gracefully, effortlessly even.
Which, when we take time for self-care, actually has a chance of occurring. Grace creeps back in. At least it does for me. To me, part of the magic of new motherhood is knowing when to ask for help. Knowing that you should be asking for help. To take time for yourself to eat, sleep, bathe. Heck, maybe even read a little, do some yoga, bathe long enough to light a candle and breathe deep. (Ear plugs work magnificently in this scenario.)
We give so much as mothers, and that natural desire to nurture and to give everything we have to our children, especially our innocent, brand new little newborns, is pretty intense. As a mom who’s been through stages of ignoring myself and putting everyone else first, I’ve got to say. It doesn’t work. Really and truly anyways. Not in a long-term sense. The baby will be okay if you leave for a couple of hours in the afternoon, which isn’t always possible when you’re breastfeeding, I know. With my first, I waited too long to try him with a bottle and with my second I knew better. I took a chance that she would take both, and she did. I know each baby is different, and you’ve just got to do what works for you.
Somewhere in that, you’ll find yourself again — not like before though. That’s the part we lose. Nothing will ever be the same, only better. If you’re a new mom, I hope you don’t feel like you’re less of an amazing, most excellent mother if you take some time for yourself. I hope you don’t think that being a good mother means being a martyr and that you just have to forget yourself for a while. The better we care for ourselves, the more able we are to mother to the best of our ability, the best of our intentions, the best of what our dreams imagine we could be.