You are confiding in one of your girlfriends about your newest worry or current frustration and she waves her hand in the air dismissively and says, "It's the most natural thing in the world!" As if to say, "that's easy! don't worry about it! piece of cake!" But natural only means that it is instinctual or the way we were built. It certainly doesn't mean it is easy. People tend to think that if something is natural, the way things were meant to be, then it must be easy. Well let's think about this for a minute.
Childbirth is natural, right? Easy? Ha! Women are built with the incredible ability to conceive, grow, and deliver tiny humans. Is it easy? Walk up to a pregnant woman with 20 extra pounds and swollen feet, a back that feels like it is about to snap and organs that feel like her baby is using them as throw pillows and tell her that this is easy. You will likely be picking yourself up off the floor. Sure, it is nature's way. But it is not easy. Anyone who says childbirth is easy is either a man or someone who hasn't gone through it yet. Yes, it is natural and the intended way to deliver your baby from your body. But it is the polar opposite of easy.
Breastfeeding is the natural way to feed your baby. Does it come easy to every new mom? Of course not. It didn't for me. It was a huge struggle and in the end I never made enough milk to sustain my baby. It was nature's intention for me to breastfeed my baby, but it was never easy. For me, there was pain and frustration. I felt guilty for not being able to feed my baby. Sometimes women can't make enough milk for their babies to thrive. They try everything from milk inducing foods to lactation consultants but the milk never shows up. Sometimes nature throws us a curve ball and we have to seek out a different path. I found it so challenging that I wrote an entire blog solely devoted to the trials of breastfeeding.
Bonding with your baby is natural, instinctual. People will tell you, "you will take one look at your baby and fall madly in love with her." But what if you don't? What if he feels like a stranger? Or you feel scared of him? What if, after going through a day of excruciating pain and anxiousness, you are even a little mad at or resentful of your baby? Believe me, it happens more than you may think. Yes, most new moms feel a love, or a least a relief, that overshadows all of the hardships of the past few hours. But sometimes, it takes a little while to wrangle all of those feelings. Don't panic if you don't feel all glowy instantly, or even days later. 99.9% of the time it will come. Be gentle with yourself. You have to adjust to so much newness. And if you find that a couple of weeks have gone by and you still don't feel connected with your baby, be sure to tell someone. Don't hide behind the "perfect mom" image. You might have a chemical or hormonal imbalance lingering from pregnancy and a little medication could make a world of difference.
Babies cry. It's the natural way they talk to us. That doesn't mean that your baby's cries can't sever the last nerve holding your sanity together. Caring for a baby who has colic and cries for 3 hours straight at the end of an already very long day is not easy. Some babies are just fussy babies. They were just "naturally" born irritable. Hopefully they will outgrow some of that fussiness in a few months as they become more aware of their surroundings and become more active. But until that time, it can be a real struggle to hear those cries for most of the day. Even the simplest of whimpers can send a still-hormonal new mom over the edge. When I had my first child, I simply couldn't stand to hear my baby cry for a few days. I was extremely hormonal for days 4-10 postpartum and my mom would push him in the stroller and I would walk way ahead of them so I couldn't hear him. That is the epitome of struggling.
Loosing the last of your baby weight. Oh right. Who believes this one? Just because your baby is outside of your body now, doesn't mean the baby weight just slides off. Most of us don't even recognize our own bodies after our babies are born. And those that tell us that we will be back to our former selves after the notorious "6 weeks postpartum" don't have all the facts. With factors like, how long you breastfed, how quickly you got back out into the real (adult) world, how much support you received postpartum, whether you had any difficult baby blues or any depression all play into how your body responds to your weight loss postpartum. There is no easy recipe. Coming up with a weight-loss and exercise plan that works best for you and your schedule and not putting pressure on yourself to fit into a cookie cutter time frame will help keep you less frustrated and anxious. The reality is that, for many moms, it may take as many as 6-9 months before you are satisfied with your postpartum weight loss. And remember, you had a human growing inside of you. It is highly unlikely that your body will look like it did when we were 20. I know, its a bummer. But that doesn't mean that you can't be fit and strong and definitely beautiful. You just may have to work a little harder and maybe a little longer to get there.
The point is, don't let people diminish your hard work. Natural doesn't mean easy. Women work so hard everyday to nurture, comfort, feed, encourage, protect, educate, love, connect, care, worry, and multi-task. We bring beauty to our families and our homes. We share our strength, our courage, and our selflessness. We clean up messes, mend broken hearts, bandage scraped elbows and wipe snotty noses. We freely give kisses to banish tears and just to hear happy squeals. It is messy. It is beautiful. It is exhausting. It is rewarding... But it is never easy.
Be kind. Be helpful. Be a sister.
She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. Proverbs 31:25