by Toni Tiu, as originally posted on “It’s okay to cry (A letter to a new mom)” Philippine Online Chronicles.
Congratulations on your bundle of joy, New Mom! You’re in for a ride of late nights and milky burps, poop explosions and numerous nappy changes. It’s not all stress though. You’ll find the simplest joy in an infant’s grip on your finger, tiny baby yawns and milky breaths. It’s going to be an emotional rollercoaster New Mom. I’m already giving you a heads up that there will be times when you’d want to give in to tears. In case you are wondering, it’s okay to cry.
New Mommy Tears
When my son was only a few weeks old, there were nights when he wouldn’t stop crying. I did all I thought would pacify him. I nursed him. I carried him, rocked him and sang him lullabies till I ran out of songs to sing. (I even ended up singing my high school’s Alma Mater song). He still wouldn’t go to sleep and kept crying.
“Am I doing something wrong?,” I thought. I was angry with myself for not knowing what to do. I was irritated with myself for feeling so helpless. Add to this the many conflicting instructions I’d get from elders. “Huwag mong buhatin! Baka masanay!,” one party would advise. “All babies need hugs! Huwag mong istress!,” said the other. I was open to learning but when contrasting pieces of advice would pop up, I would stress out. Confused, there were many times I’d burst into tears. Baby in my arms, I would sob my heart out.
Eventually the baby would calm down. I recall the reasons to some of the crying bouts – he was wet, he was hungry, and there are other crying bouts I simply cannot recall the reasons for. All I remember is the frustration with myself and the eventual relief when my newborn dozed off to sleep.
There were moments when I’d handle it well. I’d wake up to cries in the middle of the night. Then as if I’ve been doing it all my life, I’d change the baby’s diaper while I was half-asleep, nurse him, sing him a lullaby and go back to bed. It wasn’t all that bad, but still I was very tired. Sometimes I wanted to cry from tiredness.
Breaking Dawn: Newborn edition
There was one night I remember so well that I feel it just happened yesterday. I was rocking my crying baby to sleep and he just wouldn’t stop. Midnight turned to three a.m. Three a.m. turned to dawn. My son didn’t seem to want to stop nursing. I was looking out the window and I wondered, “Why is this scene so familiar?” I realized that the last time I had seen the sun rise was in my early twenties, when I’d get home early in the morning from a night out with friends. Then I felt the tiredness weigh down on me even more. I couldn’t help but smile at the contrast though. Life really was changing for me.
There, There, New Mom, It’s Okay to Cry
Dearest New Mom, I write to you because I want you to know that crying during those first few weeks is normal. It’s okay to feel helpless during these starter weeks. It’s okay to be confused, to be a little paranoid about each sound the baby’s making. It’s okay to burst into tears – crying is your body’s way of releasing stress. There, there, new Mom, it’s okay to cry.
A friend of mine gave me a heads up on this crying game during my baby shower. She said there would be moments like this. I was crossing my fingers it wouldn’t happen to me but I’m glad I listened to her and remembered her advice when I was trying to hold in the tears. I didn’t feel so alone knowing other Moms felt this too.
A strong support system helped ease my tears. There were times that when I’d feel the waterworks coming, I’d turn to my husband and say, “I’m going to cry, okay? Just let me be. I don’t need any solutions or advice. I don’t need you to do or fix anything. I just need to cry.” I’ve observed that men have this knee-jerk reaction to solve things when presented with a problem. The first times I would cry, my husband gave me tons of pep talk. There were times when it would work, there were times when it didn’t. Over time we both realized that it was also just fine if I cried it out and he simply sat beside me and held me. Having him by my side was enough to help me feel better.
After a few months, the sobbing sessions eased out.I was feeling more connected with motherhood as the weeks and months progressed, and I learned how to trust my instinct more. I became more in tune with my baby’s cries, knowing immediately what he needed. My confidence grew, and tears came by less frequently. Less tears from the baby, less tears from me.
So dearest new Mom, it’s okay to cry. However, if you don’t feel any better after a bout of crying or are having ill thoughts about the baby and those around you, seek medical attention. Having the baby blues is different from postpartum depression. Crying out is normal but only to a certain degree.
Remember that crying doesn’t make you less of a Mom. Let the tears fall. Let the stress out. Then take a deep breath. You’ll feel so much better!