PostPartum Doula & New Mom Groups

I opened the blinds in the mornings and closed them in the evenings. This was the only indicator I had for the beginning of a day and the end of a day. Everything else was a blur now that I was a new mom. Between breastfeeding, diaper changes, soothing his cries, and changing his soiled clothing (and mine) multiple times a day, I was spent.

The little things I had taken for granted before baby such as eating and showers took so much effort now.

My head hurt, my back hurt, my stitches made it impossible to sit without wincing in pain, and my chest resembled a mix between that of Dolly Parton and Tori Spelling plus lumps and leakage!

“How did I possibly miss the fine print?” was something I kept asking myself.

Household tasks overwhelmed me. What, the baby’s asleep? Okay, chop chop! Waddle your sore tush over and tackle the to do list: laundry, dishes, and bottles.

Breastfeeding hurt SO badly. It was mentally exhausting and physically draining. Fear of permanently losing your nipples is a real thing.

My baby had crying spells for what felt like hours (but in reality were spurts of 15-20 minutes) for reasons unbeknownst to me. I had chalked it up to “bad mothering” on my part which only depressed me.

Well-meaning neighbors, friends, and family stopped by, but the pressure to entertain them was an arduous task. I felt expected to smile, wear real clothes, and nod attentively to all their advice.

Information overload. Articles, research, and dozens of opinions each day bombarded me. Everything in the world caused cancer, it seemed, and everything was toxic to my baby.

So, on rare nights when my baby slept soundly, I was up every forty minutes to make sure he was still breathing.

It took me two months of this before I realized that I was not losing my mind. I was experiencing this extremely tough transition because I was saying goodbye to my old identity and hello to my new role as a mother.

I had no choice but to say, “I don’t have all the answers. In fact, I don’t have any. This is hard.”

My son had been crying inconsolably. I picked him up and rocked him, and tried to nurse, gently bounced, walked around, swaddled him, checked his diaper, but nothing seemed to work. My head raced as his cries pierced through the walls. I put him down as I burst into tears. “I’m sorry! I’m so sorry. I just don’t know what you need. I don’t know what to do!” I wept and sobbed and allowed myself to fall apart as I hung over his bassinet. “I’m just so tired. Why is what I am doing not good enough!?” He screamed over my incoherent sobs and looked just as helpless as I did. I picked him up and held his tiny body close to my chest. We cried. And we cried. I didn’t rock or shush him. I didn’t try to stop his cries. My own tears soaked the soft little patch of hair on his head. “I love you,” I whispered when I finally caught my breath. “I am so afraid that I am doing this all wrong but I’m not going to give up.” He started to settle down. I remember how perfectly his little head fit between my neck and shoulder. A few minutes later, we fell into a deep sleep.

That evening, I stared at myself in the mirror and decided to make amends.

I made amends with my new appearance because it was temporary.

I made peace with my sleep deprived state because I knew it would pass.

I let my emotions flow and stopped feeling badly for doing so.

I accepted all of the uncertainty in my life related to my career, body image, social life, and my parenting style.

For once, I understood that I needed to cut myself some slack. I needed to dig deep to find that humble part of me that did not need answers or validation from everyone. I was a new mother. My role was to learn through trial and error how to have a relationship with this tiny little person who was learning to do the same with me. I learned to empathize with my baby and not blame myself for every cry I could not console. After all, this was a brand new world to him and it would take some getting used to.

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Miraculously, around this time I also found a Moms Group. My baby was two months old and I had made it out of the trenches. The daily challenges were still present but there was a newness about it.

Was it time? Was it experience? Was it the Moms Group?

Perhaps all of the above. Or perhaps it was the radical paradigm shift I experienced the day I surrendered to my baby’s emotions and my own. After all, it was on that day that I felt more connected to him than the day he was born. Our bond had solidified. I understood him. I learned that babies are emotional beings that feel and express themselves in the only way they can. It was the most amazing piece of wisdom that I had acquired in years: how to have empathy for even the tiniest beings.

It was only a few months later that, I embarked on a mission to help other women like myself to navigate the early joys and challenges of motherhood. I look back at those times that I struggled incessantly and feel an enormous sense of gratitude.

English philosopher Francis Bacon said, “In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present.” I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel because there is not an end. The tunnel is made of all the light and dark experiences we encounter. And our perspectives, beliefs, and expectations are what determine how dark or light the journey will feel.