Dear New Mum,
I saw you at the supermarket, I saw you trying to push a trolley and a pushchair. It is okay that you thought that was a good idea at the time. It is okay that you can’t work out if you push the baby in the queue first or the trolley. It is okay that you can’t actually fit all the shopping under the pushchair and that in the end your trolley is probably too heavy to move and you are sort of in the way of people. It is okay.
We might not have all done it, but I have, and I sobbed when I returned home. It is okay.
I saw you in the coffee shop, your baby unsettled and red. Scrunched up face, balled up fists and clothes that frankly just don’t fit. Smelling faintly of newborn poop and milk. You have ordered your coffee already, you are alone just you two. It is a brave new world for you both. I hear you shh your little love, I see you pat their bum, I see a flash of an expression that I recognise ‘Why can’t I soothe this baby, I am such a bad mum’ or ‘everyone is staring at me’. I want to tell you it is okay, my babies made me sweat too. Sitting in a coffee shop, both end up smelling like poo, I can’t fit the pushchair in the toilets, and I can’t leave it here either. When they get so frustrated no milk, no hug, no rocking and no dummy will help – It is okay.
When this happened to me after my coffee, I retreated home and cried. I want you to know, this is okay.
Breastfeeding mother I saw you sitting in the corner, with your darling wedged up your top. Your baby is a little squashed, and you are not really sure what you are doing, they are making the right noises, and if you move, they will scream the place down. You aren’t sure if you are doing the right thing, you have no idea if you have enough milk and frankly, you are so tired your eyes are dry, and you might burst into tears at any moment. It is okay. You have enough milk, don’t worry, if it doesn’t hurt you are doing it right and being tired is okay.
This one time, I answered the front door with a baby in a sling and a boob exposed with milk dripping out. It is okay.
Formula feeders, I see you. Feeling judged by those who have chosen another way. Throughout parenting, this will be just one of the tough decisions you will make and you will feel judged from the very moment you leave the hospital till the day you no longer make decisions on behalf of your baby. I want you to know that this is okay. I know that being awake in the middle of the night waiting for the formula to cool is not easy, I know that you are worried you will scald your baby if it is too hot and I want you to know it is okay.
While making formula once, my friend tipped an entire bottle into her cup on to her teabag because she was so tired. It is okay.
You sit alone at 4am, baby won’t sleep in the Moses basket that took you hours to choose. Your partner is snoring in a deep and comfortable sleep, but you are awake in the dark. Your baby softly takes those juddering little post cry breaths. You can smell their beautiful scent, you pat their bums and stroke their back – yet you have never felt so alone in your life. It is okay.
Find your people, be they online, in Facebook groups or around the corner in playgroup – find your people. It is okay.
You are very sure that there was no way that they baby could poo entirely out the side of their nappy. You are very confident that you put that nappy on correctly. You are very sure that one leg of the babygrow is wholly filled with poo, and you have just reached your destination – and forgotten the change bag. You have two options, drive home with your baby having a poo bath or, take all of baby’s clothing and nappy off, wrap them in your scarf and socks with a makeshift sock nappy and bin everything THEN drive home.
It’s okay. There are many difficult decisions, how to deal with poo should NOT be one, but it is.
There are many other things that I have done as a mother, that frankly are probably not cricket. Sometimes in order to stay yourself, with the smallest amount of dignity, you have got to make the best of the tools you have at your disposal.
It just so happens that sometimes those tools are 50p, some plasters, three odd socks and a safety pin.
Dear New Mum,
You will be judged, you will be talked about, you will be cast out by some you thought were close, you will be taken in by others who know what that is like. You might find yourself, weeks after birth feeling low, lost and crying uncontrollably, it’s okay, there are people to talk to. You might see yourself feeling empowered and strong, it’s okay – pass that on to others, spread that joy. You might find that months from now, you no longer smell like baby poo, your baby is snoozing, you are finally relaxed, and you have no idea what all the fuss was about.
Dear New Mum,
Welcome to motherhood, welcome to all the sadness, joy, hurt, exhaustion, elation, emotions turned up full tilt and love overflowing.
We are all here for you, should you need us,
Love from Mothers Around the World.