My newest piece is up at Darling Magazine: “Thriving with a Newborn.” I’ve written about it before, but the transition into motherhood wasn’t the easiest for me. Through this article, I’m hoping that my distilled experience can offer the equivalent of a warm hug to some of you as new moms (or as soon-to-be new moms). Be encouraged; there is grace in the challenging seasons, and hope is always around the corner!
Four weeks after my daughter was born, I had never known a love as fierce and all-consuming as the love I had for her. But I was also exhausted, and feeling unsteady. Those early days — full of the lack of sleep and the crazy hormones — had me running on empty.
Although the newborn stage is short in the grand scheme of life, it can feel unending when you’re living in it. The constant needs of a newborn, the wacky sleep schedule, the high emotions — they are intense, intense things. Thankfully, I made it through, and I would say that I was even able to thrive during those early days with Ella, although it felt different than I thought it would.
So, while I’m not a perfect parent by any stretch of the imagination, or even a long-time parent, here are my four how-tos for thriving in those first weeks and months of motherhood.
1. Set attainable goals.
Prior to having a child, I had been used to accomplishing lots of things every day. I achieved at work, I developed friendships, I cooked meals and washed clothes and bought groceries. But now, I had two goals: keep Ella alive, and keep myself alive. Ella’s needs, although high, were straightforward: milk, sleep, touch. For me to stay alive was very different. I needed food, yes, and I desperately needed sleep. Friends brought meals and family watched Ella while I napped. But I also needed hope — which leads to my second goal.
2. Take a few minutes for yourself everyday.
Even if it’s short, even if it doesn’t look like it used to. My emotional lifeline in those early weeks was dependent upon me getting a few moments to think, reflect, and pray every day. Some days, even getting fifteen minutes alone felt like a battle, and then I would sit and read and journal my prayers through tears or drooping eyelids. Sometimes I just turned on music; sometimes I read. But I needed several moments every day where I wasn’t responsible for this new person in order to internally re-charge. Take that time for yourself; it isn’t selfish, it’s necessary.
Read about the other two points here, over at Darling’s site!