I have said this before but my transition into motherhood was bumpy. I was the first of my close friends to have a baby and my knowledge of what was coming was seriously lacking. (Prepare yourself for some brilliant insight...) Having one yourself is NOT the same as liking a filtered photo on Instagram of someone else's newborn. ;)
It's amazing and wonderful and OMG your heart is bursting.
But it's also painful and difficult and OMG every single part of your body is leaking.
I felt like I was living on razor blade. Behind me was the past and in front of me was the future. I couldn't go back. I couldn't even remember the past. But I couldn't go forward either. I couldn't even see the future.
That's what I remember repeating most often. To my mom, to Paul, to anyone who would listen, I would whisper:
"I can't see it."
I couldn't see it. I couldn't see how we'd leave this razor edge where the feelings were so intense and horrifying and beautiful. I couldn't see past one feeding...much less past one week.
Now, that I'm here, out of the fog and in the future, it is a tremendous relief to say that that all sounds so dramatic. I see it. I see where we are. I see where we're headed. I see that there will come challenges, but I see that we'll be okay.
I can also see behind me now. I see the new mama that I was and I hurt for her.
I have forgotten so many of the hard parts from those early weeks and months. But I haven't forgotten the underlying panic. I haven't forgotten how I felt those first few weeks when Paul was deployed, my baby was new and my body felt foreign. And I think that memory is what makes now - solid ground - feel so sweet.
And with that long and personal story, please let me share one of my favorite things to do these days...
Send new mama care packages! My friends are having babies! My friends are becoming mothers. They are (please, God) transitioning into their new roles better than I did. They are learning what it's like to live on a razor blade. They are learning what it's like to exist on little sleep and a bursting heart. They are amazing and I love them.
With every new baby, I get a bit better at building a care package for my faraway friends that I hope will be helpful in those early days. I'm excited to share it with you (feel free to let me know what you'd add!)
Larabars (these are amazing any time, but especially when she has just one hand to eat or needs a middle of the night snack)
chapstick, nail files and cuticle cream (she probably has all this, but she doesn't know where it is)
face wipes (she wants to wash her face each night and these will make it easier)
thank you cards (she'll run out of these)
a soft comfy robe (she probably already has one but two?! Having two robes means she'll have a chance that one is sort of clean)
a note on cheap paper (beautiful letterpress cards are great - before the baby is born when she has time to do stuff like "put the card in a special place." Those first few weeks after the baby is born? She feels like she's drowning in stuff and just wants to clear a tiny space in her house because that might help her clear a space in her head.)
Pack everything in a flat rate priority box (the regional box A is a perfect size and not as expensive to ship) and skip the tissue paper, wrapping and extra packaging (she's drowning in stuff, remember?). Send it off with good wishes and a mental promise that you'll listen to whatever she has to say and forget it all when she recovers and is feeling like her old (awesome) self again.
To all the new mamas: I'm thinking about you. I'm cheering you on. To all the mamas: You are amazing. To my beautiful girl, who made me a mama: I love you to the stars. You make me want to do better.
PS. awhile back I shared my 34 gift suggestions for a new mama if you live by your friend and don't need to send a care package via mail. When I went back and checked, all of these items were on it. I'm nothing if not consistent.