I envisioned just how it would be the moment I met Hayes. It still replays in my mind as if it happened only hours ago. It is a moment as a mother that begins so many things into motion. You feel the sweet relief of being on the other side of labor. You are taking in every inch of this little one you have been creating the last 9 months and envisioning since the day you knew you wanted to be a mom. You are feeling every emotion possible all while you are trying to forget that your being put back together down below. But what took me the most by surprise was the weight of responsibility that rushed over me within hours after having him. I felt protective and realized just how real it was that now my heart and soul existed separately from myself on earth. It was overwhelming to think about how I would care for this small and helpless human all while having no idea how to do it. I looked at him over and over that first 48 hours and wondered my gosh this is real…I have to do this.
Some women are born to be mothers. They from the start cannot wait to have a baby and deeply desire to have multiple children. I applaud these women because we need them in this world so much. For me, I never instinctually desired the baby phase of parenting. It has always been frightening to me. I knew I wanted to be a mom without a doubt, but the idea of caring for a baby scared me so much. I knew though to get to the parts of parenting I desired I would have to go through the refining fires of the first year to get there though. This meant I entered into motherhood with little to no confidence about how to tackle this new role, but I learned quickly just how incredibly designed for this job as women. Nature took over just as so many told me it would.
In those first few hours, we were together, me trying to figure out how to nurse, and him sleeping soundly on me, I whispered to him, “We are in this together. You don’t know any more about this adventure right now than I do. We will both be growing and learning together each day.” I knew that because how little confidence I had that it was going to be way bond we would forever share. He would be how I learned and forever that would be a distinct connection we would share. That is what makes your first so extra special (shhh don’t tell the others). The fist one that you learn everything with. Every moment with your first baby is a first. You know so little no matter the books you read. You are walking on a dark path feeling your way right alongside them. My goal in all of it though was to be transparent with him even if he was completely unaware. I wanted him to know I knew very little, but together we would figure it out. I wear my heart on my sleeve so why I would do much else with my own child?
The first year as a new mom was possibly one of the hardest of my life. I won’t gloss over it and tell you I didn’t ache for going back to the days before or have guilt about how painful the change was in my life. I struggled to find myself within the role. I had and still have moments of such intense anxiety as a mom. I worry about so many things. I stayed up at night when he had his first fever holding him right on me because I was so fearful. I made him sleep with me so many times he was sick because I worried. I googled things that now I never care about or think twice about. I called the doctor about little things. It is part of being a new mom. I realize this now and it was part of me becoming a mom. I knew I would have to find some way to find calm in this vicious hurricane that motherhood can be at times. Between trying to physically feel like myself again and wondering if he was eating enough (he has always been a skinny kid) or why he wouldn’t sleep…all of it felt like climbing a mountain each day at times.
Even through the struggles of the first year, each day I found new confidence in myself as a mother. Over time, my anxiety lowered with each moment something I did worked or I wouldn’t think twice about what he needed and just listened to myself. One of the first moments was on our first night home. He woke up and cried and wouldn’t stop even after he ate. I almost started panicking. Mike was looking at me like what do we do, is there something wrong? Is he okay? All the same things rushing through my head and then I took a deep breath and hummed to him. I hummed a song I listened to often and just swayed lightly. He hushed and looked at me in the low light of the room and I realized then I could do this. I could figure this out and that advice of listening to your gut was real. Over and over those months and weeks following I had more and more moments like that. It felt like that dark path had bright moments where I could see just a little further ahead each time. I felt I knew better than I did before even when it was still hard.
For me the biggest anxiety and struggle was sleep, which I think for most moms it is. Hayes was a good eater even if he was skinny, but sleep was a whole other ordeal. Looking back now I realized it had to do with a few things for him, which were mental development, food, and activity levels. He at times would wake every hour to 45 minutes angry screaming wanting nothing and no one. It was a hard time for Mike and I and especially me. I cried many times when he would wake up especially by the fourth of fifth time that night. I was exhausted and it was a dark time for me. Somehow though I would get up and go to him even with tears running down my face. I knew the fight he would have with me and he was so strong and violent considering his age of 5-6 months old. It tried me and many nights Mike would look at me like what do we do both exhausted between work and not sleeping. Many times I would look at him tears streaming out and just mouth I don’t know. After another sleepless night, I finally did research, listened to my gut and asked friends. A few days later I came to a conclusion that we would do a method of picking up and putting down to help teach himself soothing methods and I talked to the doctor about introducing formula just at night. Soon we got him sleeping with only one feeding and once he was crawling/standing he slept through the night. I do remember one night I did let him cry some because I knew he needed nothing and I needed to know he could self-soothe. I watched and after 5 minutes he put himself back to sleep. It was a victory, one that left me with deep confidence as a mom. Every mom knows that feeling when it works especially when it comes to sleep. Small victories are big ones as a mom.
Confidence is still something I am working on and there are many things still to tackle in this journey, but these small victories have made being a mom easier every day. Though I know for some women it is more natural, it has surprised me how even through the struggles it has come more easily than I expected. These days, it feels the path ahead is far more lit. I know the curves that can come at us and I know him enough to know what he needs. Soon, he will talk to me, discipline will become our next hurdle, and then one day another little one, but this first year of full blazing and refining flames of jumping head first into motherhood has brought me the solid ground I need to know we can tackle anything that is ahead in this journey.
As part of the Real Talk / Real Moms series, I have linked to the other moms who participated this month so you can read their thoughts and experiences about finding their confidence. I highly suggest checking them out if this is something you are struggling with.
Tell me, other mamas, how are you finding confidence in your role as a mom? Are you someone that instantly felt it or has it taken you time? What is a moment that made you feel that sense of confidence in your role?
You can read the other posts from other mama bloggers here:
The Effortless Chic
A Daily Something
Design for Mankind
The Sweetest Occasion
A Life Styled
Design Addict Mom
Oh Lovely Day