Covered in spit-up, coffee stains, and slowly forming (unintentional) dreadlocks, you stop in front of the mirror and see a person you barely recognize. Who is this woman? What happened to the life of the party, with bright eyes, and blown-out hair? Will you ever see her again? Maybe you can relate to the identity crisis of the new mom. I know I can.
For most new moms, the gift of motherhood is a dream, something we’ve always longed for and prayed for. But it is also a HUGE shift in identity and lifestyle change. Your life makes a complete 180 the moment you find out you are pregnant. It is okay to feel completely blessed and in love with your new life, while also missing and mourning the person you were before your baby was born. But, I think it is possible to get to a point where it’s not “either / or” but a blending of both.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)
New Mom Shock
Becoming a mom for the first time is a shock to the system. There a re a lot of new challenges we are faced with. First of all, pregnancy, labor & delivery, and the postpartum period bring all sorts of physical changes and challenges you couldn’t even fathom in your old life. Don’t worry, it doesn’t stop there…then if you are able (and choose) to breastfeed…BOOM. Another new, painful, often frustrating obstacle (at least at first) all while your body is trying to heal from one of the most traumatic things it has ever been through. Talk about being thrown to the wolves.
Then there is the sleep deprivation. You’re so tired you put orange juice in your coffee because you thought it was cream. Then you find the cream the next day…in the cabinet, not in the fridge. We are talking about that kind of delirious, nutty tired. All while trying to keep a tiny human alive (or several tiny humans alive).
The first few months of motherhood are really, really challenging. You might feel like the rest of your life has fallen to the wayside. Quality time with your spouse? HA! Running out to Target for some errand alone time? Sure…but not until you breastfeed the baby. Then you have approximately two hours until you have been beckoned to feed the baby again. Ready, set, go!
It is exhausting and often feels like we are needed by others without having our own needs met. You are not alone for mourning your old life. I remember when my second son was born, I could never leave. He refused to take a bottle. So any time I left I had to start the clock. I had to rush to get any errands done in that small window of time. I had to turn down invitations to concerts with my husband, and even friends’ weddings because I just couldn’t go anywhere without the old ball and chain baby.
“New Mom” Title Turns Into Just “Mom”
But, I am here to tell you that it gets better! I have three kids now, so obviously my new mom life was something I was able to find balance in and even do it two more times. I think one of the biggest lessons I learned was that in my new life, I needed to ask for and accept help. You must be clear about your needs. If you need a break to go for a walk or take a shower, tell someone. If you need your spouse to take a night feeding so you can sleep, ask him. Nobody can read your mind so being open and honest is the only way to get what you need.
Remember that in every new chapter there is a learning curve. Just like when you start a new job, you put in longer hours, and other areas of your life may be pushed aside at first. Your social life, your sleep, and time with your spouse all temporarily take a backseat. It makes sense that the job of becoming a new mom brings the biggest learning curve of your life. Give yourself grace, give your spouse grace, and give that sweet baby grace. This is all the first time any of you are doing this brand new, crazy, baby thing.
Blending Both Worlds
And, no, your life will never go back to the way it was. But, you know you don’t want it to because you would never have the gift of motherhood. Nor would you have that precious miracle in your arms. But, eventually as you get the hang of it, you will be able to meld your former life and your current life together. It will take some work, but you will get there. You will go on date nights again and leave without having to start the clock. And you will even have a social life again. The greatest thing I did in building my village of moms was joining Mom support groups and hanging out at parks with my kids, so we could meet other local moms.
You will even find time to nourish your faith and spend time with God again (I recommend the YouVersion Bible app while nursing). And you will go to church without the nursery calling you back down for a screaming baby or a dirty diaper. Some of you will go back to work after a few short months and learn to do that whole balancing act (more power to you, superwoman)! And others of you, like me, will find new work, one that you didn’t see coming, but that allows you to stay home with your kids but also having a creative outlet.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)
God Chose YOU
And somewhere in there, you will actually miss that spit-up donning, smelly, unintentional dreadlock wearing, deliriously tired, new mom. And you’ll never forget that God made those little babies inside of you and CHOSE you to be their mom. He could have chosen anyone else in the world but He knew YOU were the right one, the most perfect choice to love, mold, and grow those little miracles. YOU are doing it. And you are doing an excellent job.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”