She wakes up to the sound of his cries and dread falls over her like the morning sun shining through the window. Another day of feeding, changing, rocking and bouncing. Another day feeling uncertain and exhausted.
Life as a new mother is not what she expected. She imagined being more sure of herself, more confident. Instead she feels lost.
As she enters the nursery, she bids him good morning in her sweet sing-song voice, and scoops him up into her arms. He immediately nestles into her. At least one of her instincts is always right. She knows he is hungry.
And so her new daily routine begins. While she warms up his bottle she quickly rounds up something resembling breakfast and hopes to herself that maybe today she might actually finish eating it before lunch time. She notes to herself that she is starting to get the hang of doing things one-handed, and feels a brief sense of pride.
She’s learning. Adapting.
She continues her juggling act while she feeds him, trying to take bites of breakfast in between stroking his tufts of brown hair, chubby cheeks, arms and legs. It soothes him while he eats.
After he’s fed and burped, she begins her one-woman show. She tells him stories, sings him songs, dances around the family room with him and tries engaging him with a rattling toy. She puts him down on his baby mat and lies next to him. He reaches his tiny hand to her face, then to her long, chestnut brown hair. She winces when he pulls and wonders when she’ll learn to tie her hair back when playing with him.
Going to the bathroom is like training for an Olympic sport. She must get better and faster every time or else listen to him scream and wail from the other room. He doesn’t like it when she’s not in view.
Hours have passed and it’s time for sleep again. The dread comes over her once more. Will he fall asleep easily and give her a long enough break to finish eating, or shower, or perhaps rest herself?
She quietly rocks him and softly sings a lullaby. It’s takes a while, or maybe not as long as she thought since she nodded off and is uncertain if it’s only been for minutes or longer, but she realizes his body is relaxed and can hear the faint sound of his rhythmic breathing. She slowly lowers him into the crib and tries ever so carefully to slip out of the room.
Knowing that this break may be short lived, and even though she is tired, she grabs the baby monitor and heads to the bathroom for a warm shower. Just as she has the water running, it happens. She hears his crying. She quickly shuts the water off and heads back to the nursery.
She’s trying to remain calm but emotions quickly wash over her. Anger? Frustration? Confusion? Perhaps all of them. What is she doing wrong? She slides down to the floor beside the crib.
“Why won’t you just go to sleep?” she pleads with him. Warm tears begin to stream down her face and for a few minutes the two of them cry together, almost in unison. She takes a deep breath, stands up and picks up her son.
He needs her.
As she wipes tears from her eyes she looks down at his sweet face, his lips slowly stop quivering from crying. Her tender touch calms him and he looks up at her with big brown eyes that mirror hers. As she gently strokes his soft cheek his little hands are reaching for her and he grasps her fingers.
It is in that moment she realizes she needs him just as much.
Jennifer Traynor is a mother of two, a creative writer, and has a blog that doesn’t sugar coat motherhood. You can find her at jentraynor.wixsite.com/mamaatheart
Did you have a similar experience as a new mom? Tell us about it, or write your own story in the comments below!