I was thinking about P.'s early days today because someone I know - friend of a friend - just had a baby and is having a rough go of things. As mom friends often do a bunch of us jumped in to say, hey, this is going to be okay. You can do this. And it will all be worthwhile. We promise. It might not feel that way today, but you'll get there.
Once upon a time, P. was a generally healthy later-term preemie with an eating problem. Or maybe it makes more sense to say I was a worried preemie mom with a feeding problem. The problem was that she wasn't an enthusiastic eater. She grew, but slowly. She ate, but on her own terms, at her own pace. I had to learn to let go and let her do her thing. That was hard.
Sometimes when I encounter a new mom or a mama with a new baby who is going through a hard patch I think about all the hours I spent crying over P. Like literally crying over her, watering her tiny face with my tears. I not only worried about what was there in front of us but also how my worry would affect P. Would she remember how sad I was in some unconscious way?
Now I can say with fair certainty that no, I don't think she does. P. is sweetness and light nearly all of the time and when she shines that light around it shines warm on me, patching up the broken pieces that cracked off in those early days of no sleep and feeling like I had to fight tooth and nail to help my child thrive.
I know this: The tears weren't worth it. The fight to keep going definitely was.
To those mamas struggling today, it gets better. It really does. Just keep breathing if that's all you can do in this moment and if you water your baby's face with your tears tonight, think of it like the water of life. Maybe in some way you're nourishing that baby's soul - preparing him or her to be able to give and fight and shine for someone else someday.