Letters to a New Mother - Part 5 - You can do this
I remember a night, shortly after my first baby was born. I lay there wondering if he was going to wake and cry again, and kind of wishing someone would come and rescue me by taking him for a little while so I could just sleep again. Then it hit me, "If I don't do this, no one will. This baby is my responsibility and his life is in my hands."
It was like someone tossed a bucket of cold water on me, startling me awake. The weight of it settled into my heart and for the first time I really understood how serious this act of being a mother is. There is a tiny person absolutely dependent on you. What you do is everything to that little person. It will affect them the rest of their life.
It's scary to think of, and maybe overwhelming, and exciting also. You probably don't feel ready. No one does.
But I believe in you. I know you can do this.
If I can, I'm sure you can too.
It gets easier. You adjust to losing your old rhythm of life, you stop trying to hold onto it, and you find a new rhythm. You learn what you baby needs and what you can do, what you should worry about, and what you don't really have to.
You will get stronger. Stronger than you knew you could be.
You'll do for your baby what you wouldn't do for yourself, and grow in ways you wouldn't if it was only you in the picture.
You may feel exhausted and overwhelmed. This is a blessing in disguise for it brings you to your limits, where you have to stretch and grow and lean into strength that comes from elsewhere. It will drive you to your knees, and that's a good place to be. At the end of yourself is where you find the source of true strength and the help you need.
So be gentle with yourself. Just take it one moment at a time. Do the next thing, and then the thing after that. Pray often. If dishes go undone because you fell asleep with your baby on your chest, that's a good choice.
Be gentle with others also, especially your husband. It's important to remember to be kind, even when you are exhausted. I tell you this as one who failed to be kind on many, many occasions. You will wish you had chosen kindness, always. Try to remember that.
You will get a lot of advice. Some of it will be helpful to you, some won't be. In the end you are the one who needs to live with the choices you make as a parent, not anyone else. So listen to your heart, listen to the Spirit within you, listen to your husband, and your child.
You are going to make mistakes. You will make some really big ones. We all do. Now stop worrying about it and do your best, choose as well as you can. Understand that even our very best parenting needs to be redeemed.
You can do this. You have to do this. You will rise to the challenge.