There she is. This tiny creature wrapped up in your arms is a blessing, a gift, a mind-blowing addition to this world. And she’s yours. You’ve waited so long to meet her. You are now a parent. The shock, awe, and indescribable love bubbling up from an endless font within you is almost overwhelming.
As you stare down at your literal bundle of joy, the weight of her life begins to settle on you. You are responsible for this tiny creature in every way. It’s on you to not kill her. You have to teach her how not to be an asshole. Ideally, you’d like to not be the reason for her therapy in adulthood.When that peaceful little creature wakes up, your world stops and springs into motion all at once. It’s dizzying.
As she grows, she insists on staying awake more often. She screams her needs, her discomforts, her fear, her hunger. Your stress level rises every time you hear a little rustle from her resting spot. It’s going to start again, the caterwauling. You can feel it in your soul.She sleeps erratically. You heard everyone say before she arrived, “Sleep when the baby sleeps.” Its been weeks now. By all accounts, she doesn’t sleep. Ever.
You want a nap.
And if she does nod off, you’ve got stuff to do and no other time to do it. You have a limited window to function, and you have to take it. You can sleep when you’re dead, right?
The laundry is piling up, and the grown-up food is running out. The bathrooms are verging on unsanitary at this point. And the dishes might be a lost cause.
You haven’t done something you loved in, well, you can’t remember when. Your life seems to have dissolved, disintegrated into caring for this tiny person. And she is never satisfied. She’s adorable. But she needs so much, and you want to give it to her. She is your world. But good god, you need a nap or even just a minute. Or a thank you. A smiled one will do.
You love her. So much. But you are exhausted. So exhausted. You are losing yourself in her. For her. Because of her. It feels endless. It feels like this will be your life now.
You aren’t sure if you like it.You do love her. You really do. But is this really what you signed up for? Is this all? You use to have a life. You did cool things with cool people. You didn’t have all your shit together, but you had dreams, a focus, the ability to focus. Now it’s just her. How can something so small end everything you once were? And dammit, it’s hard not to feel a little bitter.
Then, all at once, Guilt slams into you. Are you really complaining about your baby? Even if it’s just in your head, what sort of terrible parent complains about their baby? Maybe you aren’t cut out for this.You aren’t sure how much more you have to give and still be you.
You aren’t entirely sure you are you anymore.
But you care for her more than you knew you could. You thought you understood what it was to truly love another human being. You did not. You know that now. You’d die for her. She might see to it.
Here’s the best part of all of this. You are not alone. It feels like it, but you are not alone. And you’re doing just fine.Across the world, likely just down the block, parents are fighting the tide of these same distracting, distressing, disturbing thoughts. It is the struggle of nearly every newly minted parent.**You are normal.
Tired, in love, and totally, utterly, unbelievably normal.Eventually, you’ll find your rhythm. One day you’ll wake up and realize your life feels normal again. It will feel manageable, doable, possible. I promise. Your hobbies will return. Your free time will feel free again. Your mind and body will start to function in sync once more. You won’t notice the shift. It is subtle, almost like a secret the universe couldn’t help but share with you.
But it will come. It really, really will. Your tiny human will somehow need you less and more at the same time. You won’t mind, though.For now, just hang on. Try your best. That’s enough. Some days your best will look like you are a superhero. Stuff will get handled. Chores will be accomplished. Showers will be taken. Milestones will be logged. That’s a win.
Other days the best you’ll be able to say is you ended the day with the same amount of humans you started with. That’s a win, too.
Look Guilt in her dirty, ugly face and tell her to fuck right off. Guilt wants to shame you into Pinterest perfect parenthood. That’s bullshit. Don’t try to do everything. You can’t. It’s okay to admit that. It’s important to admit that. Do what you can when you can. And if what you can do is remember to breathe, do that for now — another win.
Your child is your priority now.
Of course, she is.
Have you seen her? She’s amazing.
And crying again.
Make yourself your second priority for just one minute today. Tomorrow, try for two minutes. The next, go for broke with three. You’re worth it. Those minutes aren’t stolen or borrowed. They are a well-deserved gift to yourself.
You’re doing fine. You’ve got this, sweet one. You are stronger than you feel.
Celebrate the not-baby moments. It might be that bit of writing you managed while taking a piss. Or maybe you took a nice nap instead of forcing yourself to do just one more load of laundry. Moments that were nothing, missed, and never celebrated before she became are worth your joy now. They stay your sanity. They’re fleeting, I know. They’ll come more often.
Just hang on. Hang tight. Hang in there, love.You can do this. You will find your normal. You are normal. She is your everything, everyone, everywhere right now. Soon she will blow us all away. She will because you will show her how. You’ve already blown me away.You are fine. You will be fine. You’ve got this. Your new normal will sneak in soon. It will settle in and you’ll remember your old self, meet your new self. It will be here sooner than you think.
Your baby is amazing.
She’s just like you.
This story is dedicated to LF & AJ.
**Author’s Note: While struggling with adjusting to a new baby in your life is very real, so is postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. If you’ve recently had a baby and the thoughts of doubt or worry are preventing you from functioning at all, you should talk to your doctor. If thoughts of suicide or leaving your baby are regular, talk to your doctor or even a loved one as soon as possible. Postpartum depression/anxiety are normal and you can get help for the pervasive thoughts and the overwhelming dread.