When Danielle Haines posted a photo to Facebook of herself three days postpartum, clutching her sweet baby boy against her bare chest, clearly there was a reason. Haines, now well out of the hazy postpartum period, wanted to show other mothers just how insane those few weeks are after having a baby. Despite people’s Facebook and Instagram photos that depict nothing but absolute bliss, Haines shines a light on the not-so-glamorous, incredibly emotional aspects of bringing a baby home from the hospital that are, oddly enough, still beautiful.
It was just a few days ago that Haines bravely shared the photo of herself looking like — her words, not mine — “a f***ing mess,” and the picture (and caption) quickly began making the rounds. Haines doesn’t sugarcoat anything about the period of her life after having a baby, but now, like most mothers, she looks back on it with a sense of fondness.
Here’s her beautiful photo and message:
Anyone who’s ever had a child can — without question — relate to this. Despite all of the smiling, happy photos Haines now posts with her son on her Facebook, this is what it was like at first. And this is what it’s like for everyone. In other words: No, you’re not alone. No, there’s nothing “wrong” with you if you too feel “crazy” after having a baby. We all do.
After I had my first child, my daughter, I felt like a mess. I would look at Facebook or go for a walk and wonder how all these women were handling things so well — and why their babies seemed perfect. Like Haines, I had problems nursing at first, and I was sore everywhere. My daughter cried nonstop (because she was hungry!), and no one in our house slept. When moms with older children would come over to visit me, they would say things like, “Awww. They’re so sweet when they’re tiny. I would give anything to go back to that stage.” And I would think, “What?” I loved my daughter more than anything, but I couldn’t wait to feel normal again and like there was some semblance of order in my life. Why did everyone else think the weeks following birth were so magical and I thought they were crazy?
The thing is, they don’t. Everyone feels crazy and emotional and sore in some form or another. That’s how it’s supposed to be — you just gave birth. But when you look back on things when you’re in a totally different place and things have calmed down, you’re able to see the beauty in it — like with everything in life.
When I think back to the weeks following my daughter’s birth — cramped in a tiny one-bedroom in Brooklyn with a crying baby, thinking about how my neighbors probably hated my guts — I don’t wish to go back to that period. But when I look at my daughter — beautiful, smart, hilarious — I am in complete awe that she used to fit so snuggly in the crook of my neck. And when I think about myself — much more confident as a mother now — I’m happy and proud of how far I’ve come.
So yes, I do look back on that period fondly.
But as Haines so eloquently points out, it wasn’t all cute onesies and snuggles. It was hard. It was crazy. But yes, beautiful too.