From the moment we pee on that stick we know our lives are about to change. Whether it be our first child or whether it be our eighth, life as we know it will never be the same. We see our babies grow from a tiny mustard seed to a large watermelon, all the while anticipating the birth of this new little life. With every kick and turn our love for our unborn child grows and we count the days ’til we welcome them in our arms.
The birth is overwhelming, no matter which way our baby enters the world. Whether by caesar or natural delivery, our bodies experience a trauma like no other. The kind of trauma that soaks into our bones and becomes part of who we are. Maybe not for everyone but for most of us, our bodies undergo a huge amount of stress, pain and multiple levels of discomfort. And through all this pain, we meet our babies. We separate so that we can finally meet face to face.
And from the moment we meet them we are elated, as though on a super natural high. As though in a bubble of ecstasy than cannot be burst! From the second our eyes meet, adrenaline takes effect and our motherly instincts, as though by default, kicks in and we take on our new responsibility : To serve and protect. To protect our offspring with everything we have.
We experience an addiction like no other, craving their heavenly scent as though our lives depend on it. It’s an intoxicating kind of smell that leaves us dizzy and only needing more.
But after two weeks or so of bringing our newborn home from the hospital, the adrenaline starts to wear off. After the 14th night of interrupted sleep our body starts to take strain and we get your first little glimpse of darkness. At first it may just feel like a bright spotlight has gone out and been replaced by a dimmer – It happens ever so gradually. And we curse it away because we feel guilty and selfish. We tell ourselves to pull ourself together because it’s such a fleeting time and our greatest regret will be if we don’t enjoy Every. Single. Moment. So we keep quiet.
And another week goes by and we feel even more exhausted. Our energy levels are even more depleted. But we knew it would be like this and we tell ourselves again that we need to suck it up. Again, we keep quiet. The light dims a little more.
By 3 weeks our baby is experiencing cramps and becomes fussy every night for hours on end and nothing we do seems to ease their discomfort. We wonder how we are going to survive on 4 hours of very broken sleep again and for how much longer. The darkness creeps in.
By week four they are waking up to the world and as beautiful as this is, your baby does not want to be put down so you do what you said you never would. You become a baby wearer. And we walk our baby around the house day and night and spend hours rocking them to sleep. Only for them to wake up half an hour later. We are tired. So very tired. The last of the light has gone out and we are left feeling lonely, overwhelmed and too tired to even talk about it. We are in complete darkness now.
But we whisper to ourselves in the middle of the night, in those lonely dark hours, that it will soon all be over, so we better enjoy it. We better appreciate our blessings and get on with it. Blackness surrounds us.
Why? Because we can’t admit to our friends and partners that although we wanted this baby with every fibre of our being, the first three moths can be torture? Because if we admit we are taking strain it means we don’t have what it takes to be a good mom? Because if we admit that the darkness is real, we won’t ever see the light again?
At close to 11 weeks we are slowly making our way out of the 100 days of darkness. That chunk of time that most moms don’t really speak about openly. The Fourth Trimester, as specialist now refer to it as, where our babies are adjusting to life outside the womb and where we, as their mothers are their primary source of comfort as they try to do this.
A time where we are faced with things like colic, cramps, reflux, disruptive and confused sleep patterns, clinginess and feeding on demand. All while trying our utmost to find what brings them comfort, we are consumed by their every need. And as precious and beautiful as these first three months are, there are many moments where we find ourselves sinking. Overwhelmed. Defeated.
I think it’s time we talk about how hard it really is. It’s time we hold up a light of encouragement for each other so that the dark cloud can be lifted. My prayer for you is that each piece of encouragement becomes a flicker of light in an otherwise dark time, a reminder that through it all, we stand united as moms doing the most selfless job imaginable.
So from one tired mama to another, I’m not going to feed you another bullshit story about how you need to enjoy every single crappy moment of your baby’s first three months. But I am going to tell you this ; You are a champion and I salute you! For everything you are doing for your baby at this time I take my hat off to you. For all the late nights, the feeding on demand, the broken sleep and lonely times where you feel you are the only one awake with a baby who just won’t settle, think of me knowing I’m right in these trenches with you. We are one step closer to approaching the three month mark, where God-willing our babies become the happier and more manageable little humans we so desperately wish them to be.
And until then I will be drinking coffee with you as the sun rises and wine with you as the sun sets and I will be thinking of you in the middle of the night with a baby in your arms or at your breast. For you are not alone and we will soon reign victorious from these dark trenches of motherhood. We will soon be basking in the glorious light.