Thursday, January 16, 2014

Dear Overwhelmed Mama

Dear Overwhelmed Mama,

You messaged me, or maybe emailed me, or even tagged me today. I know you did! I saw it while breastfeeding my baby. I don't know how it happened, but I read your message earlier today and then tonight I got on and couldn't find it again. You were really hurting and stressed, so I'm putting this here in the hopes you read my page. And the hopes that any other mamas out there in similar situations are also helped in any way by this.

Because let me make one thing clear: your struggles are not rare. You are not a failure. You are not doing worse than others or missing out on a huge secret. We're all in this together and it's a really long, hard journey no matter what successes we log along the way. I only read your message once, so I'm a little rough on the details here. But you said something about wanting to space your children out "properly" with the recommended 3 year space to optimize nutrition and parental attention. Yet, here you are, pregnant when your child is still young.

Carrying my toddler in an ergo while about 20 weeks pregnant

Yes, I do know the fears that race through your mind in that situation. It's hard, first off, because others are going to judge you. In this world of controlled conception and birth, people often forget what it means to receive a baby without intention, or even against all odds. And they might not know what it feels like to have life plans changed, to be overwhelmed, to learn how to parent while parenting a child, while bearing a child, while still learning the "rules" that are forever changing in life.

Second off, it's hard in a grueling way. This is sweaty work, bone cracking work. This is waking up in the morning and taking a deep breath work. This is the work that never ends, that becomes your life calling, that enters your soul and leaves an everlasting mark. You aren't a failure for bracing yourself.

I know that you're worried, maybe even feeling guilty or grieving the plan that can never be, now that another child has come into your family. Are you depriving your current child? Are you harming him? Are you able to love him and another? Are you too stressed for a healthy pregnancy? Will you have to wean? Will it cause lasting scars?

If possible for your situation, consider tandem nursing!

Things will never be the same. Another person has entered the equation. And it will constantly be a juggling act for you. I don't have wonderful news on that front. You will still have to meet this new person, learn to love her, learn who she is and how she fits into your family and do so while managing a household and raising another child.

It's not you and the baby. It's everyone together now.

You will have days where you cry in the bathroom and wonder if you're doing enough. You will have moments you regret. You'll feel stretched. Your heart might even shatter from some unspeakable pain or loss in the future. Your house at times will look like a disaster zone and who knows, you might buy junk food or use the TV just to keep them quiet for 2 minutes.

But let me remind you of something, something really important. The loads of laundry, the crumbs, the shrieking and stamping feet might all increase. But the love does more than increase in a linear way. It compounds when a baby arrives. Love is squared, you could say.

And when a sibling is introduced? A new equation is reached. The love in your family is cubed.


My daughter holding her second brother

The road is long and you will need to commit in a way you didn't know you could. Things won't be all stress and worry, though. You'll learn that saying no to outside commitments means saying yes to more in your family. You'll find your rhythm over time and things will gradually make sense after the new baby arrives. One day, you'll find that you really are doing it. More than that, you'll find a bounty of love, more love than you could have imagined.

Reading to his little brother

You'll find connections and moments of joy that you couldn't accurately imagine beforehand and that you can't truly capture with a camera. You'll store them in your heart...because your heart will be bigger than before.

Some moments will be remembered forever. And they will be the good moments, Mama!

Take it one day at a time, Mama. Whatever your situation, love doesn't care. You don't need exactly 3 years of space to provide nutritious breast milk. You don't need exactly $100,000 a year to provide healthy meals. Your kids don't need fancy Apple gadgets or top rated private schools. You don't need a lot of the things we are pressured to buy or to do to be allegedly good, successful and the best.

Getting ready for the next baby!
In fact, children need more of the simpler things. They need a down to earth mama who is available, who hands out hugs and yummy treats and bedtime stories to all. They will remember the fun times together, the monster forts, the nights camping under the stars, the playground trips and chasing after the icecream truck. They won't recall the numerical amount you spent on the newest gadget or the complex way you planned out spacing and conception dates.

Mama, take those fears racing through your mind and put them to rest. When it comes to family, the heart rules here, not darkness and fear. Open up wide and embrace every moment coming to you. Hug your older child. Introduce him to the pregnancy journey. Include him and celebrate him because he's a big brother now and this is an exciting time for him, too.



Let your heart expand and do what you can because it will work out in the end.

I promise.

Love and light to you,
Gug


Mamas weigh in with their experiences:


Here are my three! The first and second are 16 months apart. The second and third are 25 months apart. I had 3 kids in 4 years! This is my son's fifth birthday. My middle daughter was 3.5 and the youngest was 1.5. We are now expecting our fourth about three weeks before my oldest turns 6! There have been rough times, but mostly rewarding. I couldn't imagine my life without my babies!

Here are my two, 22 months apart. The little girl was unplanned after a high risk, rocky pregnancy.

Here are my little girls, 11 months apart. People always ask if they are twins and yes, I got (still get) a lot of judgement. It was hard in the beginning but I can't imagine my life without them. The way they are with each other would make any mama proud. I also wanted my kids spaced out but God had other plans.


Related resources:

14 ways to celebrate siblings:
http://guggiedaly.blogspot.com/2013/08/14-ways-to-celebrate-siblings.html

I'm a mom and I've had enough:
http://guggiedaly.blogspot.com/2012/05/im-mom-and-ive-had-enough.html

Tandem nursing:
http://guggiedaly.blogspot.com/2012/01/and-then-there-were-two-tandem-nursing.html

Did you ask your child to join your family today?
http://guggiedaly.blogspot.com/2013/12/did-you-ask-your-child-to-join-your.html

The crunchiest, most organic mom ever:
http://guggiedaly.blogspot.com/2013/10/here-lies-mother-with-cleanest-house.html

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