Dear Mama,

We are here for you during the best, most amazing time of your life.

And you are wandering around Target and the mall, working or hanging out at home, wondering where all the good mama friends are.

 

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Being a mama is magical. You know that and we know that.

Babies help you make oxytocin and that hormone makes everything feel amazing. But to reduce it to oxytocin is to minimize what you just did. You grew a human being with your body.

Say that again.

Your BODY, that never measured up, in any way, in your life, just grew a human being!!! And if breastfeeding is working, you are still growing that baby or child with your magic milk.

And more magical than that, your baby LOVES you. Bigger than that, YOU are the center of their world. You are the sunrise and sunset, the beginning and the end, the alpha and omega or this little human's life. And for the next few years, it's just going to get bigger and better! Nobody loves more intensely than children.

But this is the toughest job in the world, and if you try to do this solo, you will be sooo.... unhappy.

It's OK to be unhappy. Raising a baby or child comes with constant changes and some downright unfairnesses. It's exhausting. It brings up all your bad memories. It can bring out the worst in your birth family and partner. You may be noticing the bloom is off the rose of your marriage. You may be feeling postpartum and weepy. Your body may make you cry in the way it looks, or feels.

I wish I could tell you that all that bad stuff will just go away. It usually does, but sometimes it gets worse. If it's getting worse, you should know that you can get help to make things better.

Stop and think a minute. Are you more happy or more unhappy. If unhappiness is winning, it's time for some positive changes, and you can't do this alone.

First. Do you even remember who you are?

Can you remember those days when you used to have it all together? What did you do that made you feel like "YOU?"

Take a pause right now and remember those things.

They're a lifetime ago, but they are still relevant. You still need them. And your mission in your life, besides trying to grow a human, is to start fitting some of those back into your life.

Go ahead, roll your eyes in an impersonation of your best 15 year-old self.

There are definitely some things you never want to do again. That's OK! Becoming a mother is another stage in growing up.
 
And some of the things that you used to do, you can do with your baby, even if you just start with little bits of them. Maybe instead of full made-up face, you do a quick eyeliner and lip gloss? Maybe a haircut and some product will help you have wash-and-wear hair? Maybe you can walk with your baby as the first step back into mountain climbing? Maybe your baby likes shopping as much as you do? As your baby grows, you will make more time for yourself.

There are some parts of reclaiming your old life that you will need help with.

Date nights are essential for couples. Even if you only pretend for an hour that you don't have kids over take-out burritos, it reminds you of some of the reasons why you decided to be together. There are so many ways to do this: Send the baby out and stay home; Bring in gramma and head out; Swap toddler playdates with another couple in the same boat; Bring the baby out in a sling for a late dinner; Sneak away from the family reunion for a bike ride or swim; Bring the baby and babysitter to the fancy-pants wedding and nurse between segments.
 
You are no stranger to major body changes, sleepless nights and hormones. This also happened when you entered puberty! You figured that out and you will get a grasp on this, too.
 
Do you need more exercise or good food? Accountability from an app, a group or personal trainer all help keep you on track for fitness. Good food can come from many sources and planning for a week of meals helps most. Enlist your partner, or one of your mama friends to make some meals together. Form a meal coop with your friends. Look into one of the home delivery semi-prepared meal services.

If you feel more than the baby blues, it may be postpartum depression or anxiety. Studies show that social support and exercise are key for maternal well-being. Women are meant to be in community. We need friends and all of us need certain kinds of friends. I know as well as anyone how overwhelming it is, especially if you feel depressed, to add "making friends" to your to-do list.

Which is why I've done all the "heavy lifting" for you.

If you are feeling the need to reclaim your SELF and make some friends, our compassionate and loving community of mamas (and mamas-to-be!) is waiting for you. We have something nearly every day and in all kinds of formats from online and live support groups to classes and events.

We are here so you can get encouragement and inspiration, learn lots of mama and baby tips and tricks, and most of all, to find your new self.

My love to you and your family!

Donna

Donna Bruschi, IBCLC