To the new mum who’s had a rough first year,

No one could have prepared you for this ride. To say this year has been intense is a laughable underestimate of gargantuan proportions. The exhaustion. The overwhelm. The terrors and the joys. The sheer love that floods you when you watch baby napping, snug and safe in your arms. Or maybe the guilt if it doesn’t. The doubts that gnaw deep down, in your very bones at every stage. As you’ve sat like a zombie in a rocking chair at 3 a.m. in those early hours, trying to feed your newborn. Thoughts racing through your mindlessness as the rest of the world slept peacefully, undisturbed by your anxieties.

Your life has changed endlessly, as have you. And yet it hasn’t escaped you that the change you’ve become, isn’t always honored or even acknowledged by family, friends, employers or even society. You’re expected to return to ‘normal’ or ‘business as usual’ – the sooner, the better.

Being a new mum has taught you things about yourself and those around you, that you never expected. Support has come from surprising places – like that formerly distant neighbor who has transformed into a friend and ally.

Judgment has also come from equally unexpected places and from the mouths of people you’d never have imagined to be so narrow-minded. By now you’re probably used to questions you hadn’t given a second thought before you became a new mother.

“Is he a ‘good’ baby?” (you ponder this one, realizing that you’ve never really met a “bad” baby)

“Why didn’t you breastfeed?”

“Why did you breastfeed?”

“Isn’t it time you took away that breast/bottle/dummy?”

“What? She still doesn’t sleep through the night?!”

“You let your little one watch Paw Patrol already – didn’t you know screen time is evil?”

“Does he self-soothe yet?”

“How will he learn to self-soothe if you keep picking him up every time he cries?”

And each time you’re asked these questions and other such questions, please do no pondering and instead, just an internal eye-roll. Because let’s face it, such questions make as much actual sense as they do real difference – absolutely none.

As baby turns one, so does your motherhood. Congratulations and happy birth day to you, amazing one! You are awesome. How ever your heart and baby require you to mother, you are doing a stellar job that only you could do. And even when you don’t feel it, you are strong. No matter how weak or small you have felt during the more difficult days, you are exactly the mum your baby needs you to be. You are the person you need yourself to be. And on this journey of unfathomable growth and change, you’ve not only raised a baby from a newborn into an almost toddler, you’ve also brought into existence the nurturer of that life – you’ve become a mother.

So let’s raise a toast to your first anniversary in one of the most demanding roles in the world. Having taken it one day at a time, you’ve continued to show up for 365 days. With zero sick days. No matter how difficult this year may have been and how dizzying the future might feel – know you’ve got this, momma.

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