It’s 3:30 am and my pajama top is soaked with baby vomit. I’d been nursing Juniper in bed this morning, half asleep, and forgot to slow her down and burp her. Because my letdown is fast, she guzzled the milk, I kept half-sleeping, and she spit up the entire contents of her tummy on top of me, volcano-style. I started crying.
I started crying because it was 3:30 in the morning and I was exhausted. I started crying because the Mom Guilt is strong, and I felt like I should have known better. I started crying because even with Trevor right beside me, I felt really alone in that moment. I started crying because I wanted to be rocked back to sleep and taken care of. I started crying because this parenting thing is HARD. Period.
I called to Trevor for help, handed over the baby (how do single mamas do it?!), and took a moment in the bathroom. I wiped the spitup off my chest and had a really good cry. And then I combed and braided my hair. It was a short 5 minutes amidst the half-digested milk, baby-crying chaos of the wee hours, but it helped. It helped me know that even when I am needed more than I ever thought possible, I can take some small steps to make sure my needs are getting met too. Because if I don’t get the care I need, I can’t care for my family.
Self Care for New Mamas
- Brush your teeth for the entire recommended 3 minutes, instead of the usual swipe -and-call-it-good-because-your-baby’s-hungry-AGAIN approach
- Put on a 100% clean, fresh from the laundry outfit. Note: it does NOT have to be cute, or match. You will still feel fabulous.
- Shower ALL BY YOURSELF
- For that matter, go to the bathroom ALL BY YOURSELF
- Take a drive with the baby in the back seat, wait for her to fall asleep, and crank the tunes or a podcast. Take the long route home
- Strap baby to your chest and go to Whole Foods. Pick up an overpriced smoothie or coffee or fair-trade chocolate bar and sit and people watch
- Put baby down next to you and do 5 minutes of “yoga”/try to touch your toes.
- Hold hands with your partner
- Read something. Anything, besides facebook
- Ninja-roll yourself out of bed in the morning and grab a 20 minute jog, even if you really waddle most of the way
- Ask your partner for help
- Talk to a counselor
- Practice music again, even if you are super out of tune. Your heart will soar.
- Put your phone away. Close your eyes, and meditate while you feed your baby
- Bake something
- Stop doing chores at night (yes, even if the laundry mountain is Everest-high) and take time to just BE with your family
- Tell yourself that this is really hard and you are doing amazing as many times a day as possible