Things new moms may not admit they need
"Here's my wallet," he said to me on our way into Target while pushing the stroller. "Go order something over there at Starbucks and sit while I pick up what we need in the store with Elias." Really??? How did I get so lucky to have such a sensitive husband and dedicated father to our son?? I gratefully reached out to accept his offer, swooning with a half grin. Chad had realized—long before I was willing to accept it—that I was exhausted. After a few sips of my chai latte and a few page turns of a book I've been trying to finish for weeks, it hit me: I'm by myself.
Since the day our son Elias was born just over four months ago, I've practically been with him non-stop (and for a seeming majority of that time he's been attached to me, literally). If I wasn't with Elias and tending his needs, I was with Chad or friends from church, probably preoccupied with Elias's potential needs and calculating the minutes until I'd be reunited with him.
Don't get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE being a mom. It's a role I was unsure of before I gave birth, but I've fully embraced with a 100% all-in mentality since then. It's truly a privilege and an honor. It has mostly come naturally—I had no idea I could possess this type of intense desire to nurture someone with this amount of indescribable love and dedication. This passionate drive to meet my baby's needs is what wakes me up in the early morning hours faster than any alarm clock ever has, what gives me energy when he's ready to nurse even if I'm tired, what gives me patience when he's crying in my ear, what gives me a smile and energetic voice to play at any moment, and—quite frankly—what allows me to justify the lack of a shower every now and then. Sometimes in my sleep, I even dream about meeting Elias's needs! The problem is, as I've lived with this 24/7 laser-focus on someone else, I didn't realize how far away I had pushed my own needs and desires.
Chad has been the best, most supportive teammate I could have hoped for as a new mom. Raising a tiny human is H A R D ! I really can't imagine doing this without him. He's an incredible dad and is sensitive to my needs—even the ones I don't realize I have. [Major props to all you single moms out there—you're true heroes & rock stars.] I thought I would write about a few of those things I've discovered as an encouragement to other new moms out there (and even to new dads looking for ways to help their wives).
Things new moms may not admit/realize they need:
- Constant encouragement: Although I mentioned that jumping into the role of a mom came naturally, I didn't mean to imply that it has been easy. DAILY, I am tossing harsh comments at myself in my mind... You should have... Why didn't you.... Look at So-and-so and how she does it... You're not pulling your weight... You're doing it wrong... I need encouragement daily to combat all of that crap and remind me that I'm doing a great job.
- To be told you are beautiful: This could be an entire post, but I'll keep it short. You will often feel run-down, ragged and undone. You will often feel chubby, greasy and ugly. You may not believe someone when they compliment you otherwise, but it's so important to hear this over and over and over again. Mama, you ARE beautiful!
- Water & solid snacks: Breastfeeding and pumping breastmilk take a lot out of a nursing mom! You'll need an endless supply of hydration + protein-rich snacks to keep you going, even in the middle of the night.
- Long, uninterrupted showers/baths: Motherhood can be stressful and loud (internally and externally). My shower time is my little oasis—I can clear my mind, let the water massage me, and be refreshed.
- Naps: I've never been a "napper" but I learned quickly that sleeping when the baby sleeps is a survival tactic that was required for me. I used to feel like I was being lazy or unproductive, but that perspective was quickly changed. To avoid acting like a zombie, extra sleep here and there was important until I fell into a bit more of a healthy [sane person] routine.
- Back rubs—okay, full body rubs: Carrying around a growing baby and nursing and lugging a carseat around are hard on your body! ...Not to mention, for a good period of time in the beginning you're still healing from pregnancy, labor & delivery!
- Cuddles: For SO many reasons, it just feels good to cuddle someone close, whether that's your baby, your husband, or a friend. That silent, safe, "just be with me" need of yours is strong.
- Alone time: In the beginning it was more stressful for me to be away from the baby, so give this one as much time as you need, but for me, the 4-month mark was about right. Now it feels amazing in short spurts! [Disclaimer here: At first, I couldn't remember how to be alone, and it was painful and sad for me. Give yourself grace.]
Motherhood is incredible, and challenging, and the most joy-filled experience I've ever had. It can be exhausting... Dads, spoil your wives by offering these things before she even thinks to ask for them. New mamas—and veteran mamas!—try to be attentive to your own needs sometimes and allow the people around you to help you. You are no less amazing at your role when you lean on others. You can do it!