I’m thrilled to be partnering up with my dear friends Emily, Kelly and Shaheen in a new motherhood series. They are some of the first friends I made on this blogging journey and I’ve looked up to them for their kick-butt work ethic and mama-mojo. Emily and I used to be roomies in Lincoln Park (holy throwback!) and she’s one of the most hardworking people I know. Balancing a career (a very busy one) while taking care of her unicorns: Gracie and Josephine. They’re the most bubbly big-eyed babes you’ve ever seen and I’m grateful for our friendship with the many, many lessons along the way. Her hubby Doug makes a room light up with his story-telling. Kelly and her husband Mitch are a dynamic duo. They have the sweetest, cutest, best-dressed (after Harlow, of course!) babe, Emma. Oh, she’s the coolest one-year-old EVER. In all honestly, Kelly’s one of the nicest people I know (seriously though) and her blog is crushing. She has the most admirable work-ethic and accredits that to staying up all night long to work! (send coffee!) I’ll get there one day, maybe. Shaheen has the only boy in this group — hi Zain! It wasn’t an easy journey to motherhood (you can see her infertility journey here) but she’s an open-book to help others in their struggle. A big heart that I’m grateful to know. I’ve reached out to these ladies countless times day/night with help! I’m looking forward to sharing unique perspectives on different topics each month, so make sure to follow along on the fun!
“When, Why and Who I ask for help”
It takes a village. We’ve all heard the expression, right? But, somewhere down the line — we’re told that we can do it all on our own. I attribute that philosophy to my own Mother, who pretty much raised four girls on her own (Including my severely disabled sister). The truth of the matter is, we don’t have to do it all. The one piece of advice I heard countless times before giving birth: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Furthermore, if someone offers you help: take it! I’ve definitely taken my mama up on that that help. She took Harlow for a full day last week, so I could get some work done. So grateful. I also need to add that my sister, Ashley, had a baby boy three weeks before Harlow (unplanned people!) and she’s been there every step of the way. It’s been so special raising our sweet babes together. We text ALL DAY LONG. She’s also 10 minutes away, how lucky are we?!
Another valuable piece of advice (that is probably a no-brainer) — stand close to someone who’s been through the journey. Who can offer you advice, piece of mind, reassurance. I’m not talkin’ bout your mama (although, that’s another no-brainer and my obvious number one go-to for life!) Parenting today is different. We’ve got a lot of noise. It’s not like how it used to be. So, while I’ll always count on my mother for advice, I like leaning on people who are fresh on this path. Who remember the grit. Who can help me through these minutes that can sometimes feel like eternity. But, who can also share the joys, the firsts, those heart-exploding milestones.
It wasn’t like the movies for me. When Harlow was born — I didn’t feel a connection. It was nothing like I envisioned it, and that’s the honest truth. I was in pain, I was overwhelmed, I was scared, and a million of other feelings. It’s surreal: the moments leading up to meeting your whole world, your entire heart. It’s something you can never prepare for as a first time mom. I remember sitting on my husband’s office floor while Harlow was days old. I broke down. ‘Why do I feel like this, Kevin? What’s wrong with me? I’m so scared’ I’ll never forget the fear I had. I couldn’t understand why I didn’t feel this connection to my precious baby girl. The baby girl I prayed my entire life for. It’s frustrating, confusing and downright terrifying. Oh, the guilt. It felt like knives in my soul. Kevin crawled on the floor with me and held me. He held me so tight. He kept reassuring me that things were going to get better. ‘We just have to take it one hour at a time’. We did.
Side-note: my lactation consultant said to smell your baby, a lot. If you’re not bonding, just keep them close, and smell them. Newborn smell is unlike anything else, it’s heaven-sent. She also recommended taking a bath with Harlow. Kevin filmed it. Those raw moments (not taken on your iPhone) are so beyond special. When I watch that tape back, I can see the pain embedded in my face. That’s motherhood. Unfiltered, emotion-filled, raw, heavy & sweet as sugar. My postpartum body nestled alongside hers. If you guys are interested in a separate blog post with all of this, please let me know!
For my fellow mama’s out there who are reading this, you aren’t alone. If you’re still fighting to find a connection — it’ll come, in time. For me, it was about 2 1/2 months. For you, it may take longer, or it may be shorter. Don’t beat yourself up, for you’re doing an amazing job. You should be so proud of yourself. Look at all you’ve accomplished already. If you want to chat further, please message me! Please get in touch with a PPD specialist — there are so many eager to help! I absolutely love hearing from you. So many people told me it would get better, that the first few months are incredibly challenging. It’s true, it gets so much better! I am so lucky to call Harlow mine, and I cannot imagine a second without her in it.
As I mentioned above, I think it’s extremely important to rely on others who are fresh on this path. In addition to my amazing husband — my childhood best friend, Theresa, got me through some of the hardest days of my life thus far with five simple words: ‘I felt like this, too’. In that moment, my anxiety melted away. I think that’s all we need sometimes, someone to relate to. To not feel so alienated. To feel ‘normal’ if that’s even a word in the motherhood vocabulary. We don’t talk about this enough to each other. Which brings me to my next point — when you’re feeling ‘off’ tell someone. Whether it’s your significant other, therapist, pediatrician (my doctor was incredibly helpful, too) listen to your feelings. I’m glad I acted on them, and most importantly: talked about them. You don’t want them to manifest and dig deeper. You’re already going through so much, so be gentle on yourself.