I remember the snuggles. The baby smells. How his tiny little head fit perfectly under my chin. I remember his tiny cries and how it felt when his little fingers wrapped around mine. I remember how he smelled after his baths.
I bet it is a defense mechanism, but when I think of the early days of motherhood, the things I listed above? That is what I think about.
It wasn’t until recently that I really thought about the early days of motherhood and remembered ALL of it. Not just the cute, happy moments. I’m talking about the hard moments that no one warns you about. To be fair, even if someone had prepared me, I am pretty certain that many of these moments can’t be understood until a new mother experiences it herself.
I remember being hungry.
I know. It sounds silly but when you’re a new mom you aren’t used to going hungry and working your eating around your baby’s eating. Now? Yes. I am used to eating when I can. Eating standing up. Eating after my kids are fed. Wondering, “shoot did I even have lunch today?” It’s an old hat after seven years of parenting, but in those first few weeks I remember crying because I was hungry.
I remember the pain.
I remember nursing my sweet baby boy in his chair with tears steaming down my cheeks because it hurt so badly, and because of the pain and the emotions that came with it. I was certain I was doing something wrong. I visited the lactation consultant and tried different latching techniques and holds but ultimately I discovered that it just takes time and eventually the pain goes away.
I remember confiding in a friend who told me I wasn’t doing anything wrong, that yes, it’s painful for some mamas and it would get better. She was right, but what I needed at that moment more than her being right was to not feel alone and to be reassured that I wasn’t already messing up this new mom gig.
I remember the pure exhaustion.
Before I was a mama, I thought I knew what it meant to be tired, boy was I mistaken. Those first few weeks showed me a level of exhaustion I’d never known. I remember my mom and dad (thank the heavens for family, it really does take a village, y’all) coming over and holding our sweet guy just so my spouse and I could sleep without worrying about him. You guys, that particular night I remember we slept for 45 minutes while they held the baby — and it felt like an eternity.
I know these aren’t fun things to remember and you may be wondering why on Earth I would want to make it a point to do so. My hope is that by remembering the difficult times, I can continue to support new mamas in my life. I want to make that new mom a meal, check in, offer to hold her baby while she sleeps, let her in on the secret that none of us really know what we are doing, and tell her that nursing can be amazing but it’s freaking hard.