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Dear New Mama,
I'm so proud of you.
I repeat I am so very proud of you.
I want you to hear, believe and process that because it's very likely that in the coming weeks, YOU may not feel so proud of YOU.
The first few days, and likely through the first four to six weeks with your precious bundle outside of the womb, you will feel a contentedness like never before.
It will surely feel surreal to have your love nugget leave the comfortable (for her) confines of your stomach walls and make her way into your safeguarding arms.
You will relish in her baby smell, her prime for kissing cheeks, her tiny toes, and fingers and the cooing sounds that are to come.
And, even her crying, though it will pain you to hear, you will find joy in knowing that your child is healthy, has a voice and isn't afraid to use it to express herself.
But, soon after that, things will get a bit more challenging.
It's going to be a little hard for sure.
The latching and feeding.
All the reading of her "signs."
Learning to trust your gut, while changing your diet or sampling through formulas to ensure you can nourish and please hers.
You will wonder if you are holding her too much or not enough.
You will feel guilty for putting her down and then find yourself staring at her in amazement once you do.
Or maybe you will lay her in her bassinet and dash as fast as you can out of that room to catch your breath for a moment (or more) to yourself.
You will be routinely messy and disheveled looking and so will your home.
You will have days where you feel so "on top of it" and your daughter's needs and other days she'll find ways to confuse the heck out of you.
You will find yourself questioning whether you "can do this," and may struggle with whether you even want to or how to accomplish such.
There's no doubt that you are in for a crapload of fun, but you are also in for a hoopla of stress and challenges that are going to exhaust you, both mentally and physically.
Yet, you, Wonderwoman -- who feels like anything but -- you will figure it all out.
You will more than figure it out; you will dominate motherhood because you were made for it.
And on those days when you feel like you are doing anything but beasting your way through and you it feels like you are drowning, look up and in the direction of those people in your life who love and support you because we will pull you the heck out of the way of the forthcoming crashing waves and find a way to aid you as you navigate these new-to-you tides.
Kids -- be it when they are newborns, toddlers, young children or even teens -- they are not one size fits all. What worked for me, will not necessarily work for you and what didn't work for me, well, it just might be the exact right thing that will work for you.
And that, my gorgeous, impressive friend, is why I don't and won't have a map to give you or instructions to share.
Unless you relentlessly request for more, I will offer up no advice for you other than to love that precious gift of yours with every gosh darn ounce of your being and to find a reason to be proud of yourself each day.
Did the baby have a good feed? Be proud.
Did you nourish her enough that she met her wet diaper goal? Be proud.
Did you feed her formula cause your milk wasn't producing? Be proud.
Did you stay awake to longing gaze at your baby? Be proud.
Did you take a nap when your baby took a nap? Be proud.
Did you find time to shower? Be proud.
Have you not showered in a couple of days, but are fully owning that hot mess mom look? Be proud.
Did your baby roll over? Be proud.
Did you have enough willpower to ignore her trivial cry and do your own roll over in bed to catch a few more zzz's? Be proud.
Did you ask for help and support when you needed it? Be proud.
You see, it's not about being proud of yourself just because you or your baby did "this" or "that," though I do encourage you to praise both of you regularly and even aimlessly.
It's about being generally proud of yourself for literally anything and everything you do in the name of love for your child and respect and care for yourself.
Right now, honestly, that's all that matters.
And, if I'm keeping it real for you...even with my kiddos at ages 7, 5, and 3...that is still all that matters.
That everything a parent does (or doesn't do) for their child is in the name of love for them while remembering to not lose respect or neglect care of ourselves in the process.
I am so happy for you, new mama, and I am so proud of you for all that you have given to your child during your pregnancy and for all that is forthcoming.
If you ever forget to be proud yourself -- which I don't want you ever to let happen -- your tribe will be right there to ensure you do not ignore your obvious value to this world, your family, your friends, your new baby girl and yourself.
I'll say it one more time, new mama --
I'm so proud of you, and you need to be too.