An open letter to the new mom I was years ago

Jul 28, 2015 at 1:45 a.m. ET
Image: -Rekha Garton-/Moment/Getty Images

Dear Old Me: You are so tired from waking up every hour with a newborn that you probably won't be able to read this with both eyes open. I remember it, and I remember it well. Those new mom days were hell, but part of me wishes I could go back.

You thought you were totally prepared, and you even made everyone think you were. You read all the books, you bookmarked all the websites and you decided on your parenting style. But when he was born, everything that everyone ever said to you came true — you just didn't want to admit it. You wanted to feel like you were still in control. You could figure it out for yourself.


Image: Bethany Ramos/SheKnows

Those sleepless nights when you couldn't get him to latch (and of course, that terrifying night when you overfed him when using a bottle for the first time and he threw up) and you wanted to ask for help or just call someone to cry for a minute, but you didn't. You thought people would brush you off. Shouldn't new moms have a mothering instinct? Didn't your midwife teach you how to breastfeed? Can't you look it up on YouTube or something?

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So you just kept it to yourself and kept moving forward, the same as any other new mom would do to save sanity and save face. I see now, and I wish I could go back and tell you that it could have been much easier. People wanted to help you, but they thought you didn't need it. People would have talked to you for hours, but you thought they would judge you and tell you that parenting shouldn't be so hard.

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And then they got a little older, and it got a little easier (as easy as toddlers can be), just like everybody said. You got some room to breathe. You realized you were drowning in loneliness and anxiety, and you finally got the courage to ask for help. I'm still proud of you for that.


Image: Bethany Ramos/SheKnows

You didn't know this then but making that decision to admit defeat, to tell everyone that you couldn't handle the stress and the fear and the loneliness, to reach out to a therapist and to spend time getting to know yourself was probably the best thing you've done so far as a parent. I know it was painful, I remember it being agony, but you finally opened up and I'm proud of you for that.

More: My second child taught me the importance of my postpartum health

And then something really interesting happened, something you won't even recognize until a few years later: Like everyone said all along, it got easier. The crazy newborn days went by in a flash, and you didn't know how to appreciate them because you were right in the thick of it. That's OK. Once your baby started sleeping, once you started going out in public again, once you got a moment for yourself, everything everyone had been trying to tell you hit you like a ton of bricks.

It does go by too fast. These days really are precious. I'm only going to get to do this once.

Elliott Jonah

Image: Bethany Ramos/SheKnows

I look back at pictures and videos and I see you, and I remember you. I remember you optimistically embarking on the scariest journey of your life, and I remember every time you failed. I also remember every time you put one foot in front of the other and kept going on your most frustrating days. You didn't think it would get better, but it did. You didn't know if you would be a good parent, but you are. You wondered if you would ever enjoy it, but you do. You made it to the other side.