In the Morning

Thursday, October 10, 2019

I just learned this morning that today is World Mental Health Day. Honestly, I wish every day were World Mental Health Day, as I think that we would all be a lot better off if we considered our mental health as important as our physical health. I think we would all be a lot better off if we treated mental illnesses as seriously as we treat physical illnesses like cancer. I think we would all be a lot better off if we felt as comfortable saying "I have an appointment with my therapist" as we do saying "I have an appointment with my dentist." I've written about mental health before, most recently concerning Bert's birth here.

After finding out about today being devoted to mental health, I thought it would be a perfect time to write about something I've been thinking about a lot lately, and that's what advice I would give a new mom. Let me say first that there is NO END to the amount of information out there that is available to new moms. Let me rephrase that and say: pretty much there is NO END to the amount of people out there who feel the need to tell you what you should be doing or should not be doing or questioning you or your methods. Truly, your mother, mother-in-law, neighbor, best friend, that lady at church, that woman at moms' group, granny in the grocery store, blogger on the internet (ahem), and random dude without kids "but I have two nephews!" (<-- true story) all have opinions about what you should do or not do.

And to that I say, Blessed are they who keep their mouths shut, for they will be able to visit baby Bert. :)

(I should also say at this time that the person in my life who is likely most qualified to give advice but who has truly kept her mouth shut unless explicitly asked for her input is my mom. Maybe I'll write more about that later since I have really appreciated that.)

The two best pieces of advice I have gotten are from my good friends and fellow moms of littles, Maggie and Catherine:

Maggie -- You are your baby's mom, and you know what's best.
Catherine -- Don't read anything on the internet.

So, with that in mind, I am going to tell you my advice for new moms whose babies aren't mine, and I'm going to do it here on the internet haha. But in all truthfulness, if asked for my input, and with today being World Mental Health Day, this is what I would tell any new mom:

Things always look better in the morning. 

My hardest times mentally so far as a mother have been during overnight feedings with Bert. I'm awake and alone, I am completely exhausted, it's dark, I have no one to talk to. Those things create the perfect conditions in which a storm of anger, doubt, and depression brews. When I think back over the past two months of mothering Bert to the times I've felt most hopeless, angry, and sad, they have mostly all been while breastfeeding him at 2:30 a.m., 3:45 a.m. or 5:15 a.m. Those are the times when I've thought to myself that I can't do this, that I'm a terrible mother, and that I am just so upset and sad. Those are the times when the anger inside me gets stirred up to a point that I just want to scream.

I do think it's important to deal with the underlying causes of those feelings and to talk to someone who can help. (I do.) But I would also say that in the morning when the sun is up and I've showered and had a coffee, those feelings that I had overnight seem so much more manageable. Even if the next night it all happens again -- and those feelings are very real -- I can tell myself that everything so far points to things feeling more manageable in the morning. And that gives me hope.

So if you are a new mom -- or honestly, any kind of person because I think this could really apply to anyone -- that is the advice I would give you: Things always look better in the morning.

That, and you are your baby's mom, and you know what's best, so don't read anything on the internet. :)

When you find yourself freaking out, picture Bert looking at you like this. "As if!"

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