To the overwhelmed new mum, from a mother of two: I hear you, I understand
"All you want right now is to be able to take a shower, sit down and eat a proper breakfast, drink a cup of coffee while it's still hot. But you can't, or don't dare to, because you know the moment you do, your baby will probably wake up."
You're probably reading this as you pause for a moment to take a break from the laundry, vacuuming, preparing lunch, and your wailing baby who has finally dozed off.
You're exhausted, I know, even though it's just 8am.
Who wouldn't be when they've been up for most of the night, feeding a demanding and eternally hungry little cherub who's on a growth spurt? I bet those pre-baby days when you got eight hours of sleep each night feel like a dream.
All you want right now is to be able to take a shower, sit down and eat a proper breakfast, drink a cup of coffee while it's still hot. But you can't, or don't dare to, because you know the moment you do, your baby will probably wake up. I always say it's like Murphy's Law for mums.
You sigh and wonder how your friend who also has a young baby manages. She's supermum-like with all those posts on Facebook of her feeding her baby while folding the laundry, or whipping up a gourmet meal for her husband while her baby naps.
Does anyone really understand this feeling of being overwhelmed, you wonder. Maybe a chat with your best friend would make you feel better? But at the same time, she doesn't have a baby so she won't really understand how it's possible for such a tiny human to bring out the full spectrum of emotions in you.
And anyway, since having your baby, scheduling calls with your friends has become an extra task for you to do on your neverending list of chores, so you sub-consciously (and sometimes, consciously) avoid it.
Will my baby ever sleep for more than two hours at a stretch? Will my battered and flabby body ever look normal again? My breasts - are they even mine anymore, because I don't recognise them!
How do I stop worrying about my baby, that she is eating, sleeping, peeing, pooping, growing normally?
Will I ever feel like having sex with my husband again? How will I cope when my baby is older and more demanding? When will I ever have a few moments for myself?
How is it possible to love someone so very much, more than anything in the world, yet sometimes feel like I just can't manage?
Mummy, I hear you. I understand. Because I've been in that very same place that you are in right now, and I know exactly how you feel. So hear me out.
That friend of yours who posts about her perfect life on Facebook all the time... before you start comparing yourself to her and feeling inadequate, let me tell you something. She is as overwhelmed (maybe even more) as you are.
Social media often works as a way to make you feel better where you post all the beautiful bits of your life and leave out the ugly. So please don't feel bad - she must have her meltdown moments too, just like you.
Your baby will learn to sleep for longer, and one day, you'll be able to enjoy more than three hours of sleep at a stretch.
The growth spurts, crying, fussiness and neediness will slow down. One day, you will be able to enjoy that cup of steaming hot coffee, that relaxing bath. Soon, you'll have time to catch up with your friends as you once did and not even talk about your children.
You and your husband will make love again, and it'll be like the very first time as you rediscover each other, and he wonders at your proud, reborn body - soft and with new, silky-sexy curves.
Everything will fall into place again. Re-align. Different, but the same.
And as this happens, you will start to miss these days you are experiencing now.
No, you won't miss the sleepless nights, but you will miss seeing your baby's eyelashes fanned over the soft curve of his cheeks, in the witching hour after you finally got him to sleep.
You won't miss your painfully sore nipples, but you will miss gazing into your baby's eyes as he nurses, as he gives you that adorably milky smile that breastfeeding babies sometimes give, the way his pudgy little hands gently tug at your hair, your clothes while he feeds.
You won't miss the clinginess right now, but someday as your little one starts preschool and runs into class without even turning back to look at you, you will long for those baby days when he couldn't even go for five minutes without needing you.
As for feeling overwhelmed. Well, that feeling might never go away completely.
You see, each stage of childhood comes with its own unique challenges and as you learn how to deal with them, you will have moments of frustration, of even anger, and of quiet pride as you learn.
And this is the beauty of parenthood. It helps us grow, even though we are already adults. It teaches us patience and kindness. It gives us wisdom and shows us the true meaning of unconditional love.
You will learn. And you will survive.
With understanding and in solidarity,
A mum of two.