I used to think I did something wrong. I was a first time mom to a baby who never stopped crying and I was 100% certain I had already ruined her. Sure, she was just a few weeks old, but as I watched other new moms snuggle their sweet, sleeping babes and smile as they told me all about their perfect infants on their perfect schedules, I couldn’t help but feel like we’d already failed.
For years, our firstborn cried her way through the world. Not the cute, baby cry with the adorable lip quiver. No, I’m talking shrill, angry, never-ending wails that went on for hours at a time. When I say we tried everything, I mean, we.tried.everything. My nerves were shot, I never slept, and I was probably in the throes of postpartum depression and didn’t realize it. I cried just about as much as my baby did, and I swore I’d never have any more kids because I was clearly not cut out for this motherhood thing.
But slowly, days turned into years, and years brought us new babes, and the fog of fear and failure lifted ever so slightly with each new life entrusted in our care. If I’m being honest, the middle two were easy. They were the kind of babies that trick you into having more babies because you think you’re an expert parent raising practically perfect kids. They were content and happy pretty much all the time and it wasn’t anything we did differently. That was just their God-given personalities.
Then, came number four. This darling little chunk, who I love dearly and watch with wonder, is wildly reminiscent of his eldest sister. He’s a terrible sleeper and a sloppy eater and needs to be with his mama at all hours of every day. He’s opinionated and vocal and exhausting, but he’s not broken. And neither am I.
If I could go back eight years and say one thing to that bleary-eyed, first-time mama, it would be that. Your baby isn’t broken and neither are you. You’re not a failure. You haven’t ruined her. You’re doing the best you can and so is your baby.
I wish I had known that then and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve needed to remind myself that now.
Every time this on-the-go #bosslady feels held back by her non-stop nursing newborn. Every time I toss and turn in frustration in the middle of the night with a baby who doesn’t sleep. Every time I sigh because he won’t let me set him down. Every time I’m reminded that he’s not on a schedule yet. Every time I want to go somewhere but can’t because I know he’ll scream the entire car ride. Every time my expectations are too high and I forget that he’s little and just needs his mama. Every time I feel like a failure. Every time I feel like I’ve already ruined him.
Every single time, I need to remind myself, “He’s not broken and neither are you.”
He just needs a little more time to figure it out. One more nursing session to fall asleep. One more backseat handholding session. One more snuggle. One more song. One more night of sleeping on my chest. One more day to hear my voice and feel my heartbeat. One more.
I remind myself this now because I know that some day in the not so far off future, “one more time” will happen for the last time and all of these weary moments will have made us better in the meantime.