Hi! I'm Rachel, the owner of Cocoongoods, a lifestyle brand where we are bringing back the concept of the Hand-Me-Down; designing and making Modern baby and child hand crafted products that are sustainably sourced, batched locally in the USA, and built to last.
As a first time mom with a newborn many years ago (hard to believe my first is on her way to tween-dom!) I came to parenthood late in the game, as a reluctantly drawn, conflicted yet optimistic, but mainly pessimistic, new Mom. Bringing home a new, tiny infant after months of being alternatively super-awkwardly inwardly self involved (the Belly Button Watch) and gruffly resentful of too much attention (why the hell is that person staring at me, is something hanging out?), I was struggling with even more new emotions and of course, that overwhelming feeling of everything is just TOO MUCH.
I Felt Like I Was Putting On a Show
Natural Birth behind me, much of my baby weight (luckily) a grim memory (except, hello, boobs, what?!) I struggled to feel myself again as I felt, all of a sudden, even more SEEN. To me, it felt like everyone was looking at how I was doing, what I was doing, and how I was being. It certainly didn't help that the Mother in Law was still lurking and resentful of her lack of role in the birthing process (sorry, but NO, never and wtf are you even thinking?!). Every diaper change, every nursing session, mishandled burp (not mine, clearly), I felt as if I was performing for a crowd of the most judge-y of judges, even when the family had departed and left us on our own to figure it out. My own internal perfection meter was in overdrive to portray a mom who had it all together, had done it all before and was clearly ACE-ing this thing. All 10s on the car seat install, seamless amorphous baby into carrier insertion and removal, hitch-less squat WHILE simultaneously breastfeeding and putting away laundry.
I obsessively planned excursions that would need to hit many requirements in order to be worthy of leaving the house and ultimately a successful notch on my Mommy Belt. For someone who exclusively baby wore, you'd think it would be easy, I didn't even have to figure out how to solo unfold an origami-esque stroller while somehow holding the baby who would have miraculously remained awake during the ride. However, unless the plan included at least 3 stops that would justify parallel parking on busy downtown streets and then faultlessly self-wrangling that still Gumby-like infant into a carrier position that wouldn't slowly asphyxiate her (must remember to keep hand on baby at all times to check breathing frequency; wait how often are they supposed to breathe?!), it was OUT.
Let me tell you, looking back, that drive for perfection and the appearance of extreme yet effortless capability didn't win me any awards, no Mom Badge of Honor, not even a shout out on FB (Insta was not even in its' infancy back then!). It stole those flashes of being truly in tune with my baby, with my slow inner process of learning to be a true care giver, of connection with the present. It is hard enough to remember those moments that turn into days, months and now years (every damn person who said how quick it goes by as I breezed past with my tiny baby sling was, of course, completely right on that one, even if they couldn't figure out whether I was carrying a baby or a puppy, inexplicably). By focusing so much energy outward into how I was portraying a Mom for others, I lost capturing the internal rightness of actually being a mom for me. Not just my pre-conceived ideas of mom-ness, but how I, specifically, would be as a mom, informed with all my past experiences, feelings and growth.
My Suggestions Looking Back
If there's anything I can impart from my Early Mom experience, now in the rear view mirror, is that this really is a special, unique, and ultimately one time thing. I'm now a mom of two, and closer to the end of baby phase than I'm able to acknowledge, and I'd like to think I got a little closer to sinking into the present with my second, (because nothing makes it easier to focus than the scary thought that this one would be the last!). The greatest Mom to Mom gift I can give you is this: First Time Mom is a season in your life you will not get back! It's so worth it to get over yourself, your fear, your exhaustion, and your over-thinking, spinning and critical mind.
Coach yourself to sink into those new feelings and soak it all in. You'll never feel a love quite like this ever again.
What has your experience been with the pressures of new motherhood? Let us know and be sure to tag us in your posts @lovemajka #lovemajka #fuelingmotherhood