I watched as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge shared the first glimpse of their royal baby boy with the world. William and Kate, with the baby in her arms, stood together as new parents, taking a moment to talk to the press, smile and waive before walking back into the hospital. As I watched, I couldn't help but think that the new royal parents looked so happy, so tired and so scared! Yes, being a new parent rocks your world like nothing else (even without the added pressure of the entire world watching).
As I watched them come back out through the hospital doors with William carrying the baby and Kate getting in the back seat of the car, it took me back to my first baby and a very familiar scenario. I remember watching over this new baby in the car as my husband drove us home. As we pulled away from the hospital, I started to cry and found myself crying all the way home. What I know now is that moment was part happy tears, part hormonal and part of a baby blues journey that I had never heard anyone talk about. I mean really talk about. And, having survived some of the bluest moments of having a baby, the mommy in me watched as Kate looked like she was about to cry. I wanted to reach out through the TV and hug her, tell her that everything would be OK. I would tell Kate, mommy to mommy, girlfriend to girlfriend, some honest, heartfelt and just plain real parental advice on how to survive the royal baby blues. I would say, maybe over tea and cookies:
You will survive the sleepless nights. Yes, you will be tired. You will be the most tired that you have ever thought humanely possible. And, just when you think there's no possible way that you can wake up again with that baby, just breathe, splash some cold water on your face and realize that it won't last long. You will survive.
Yes, you will become a walking contradiction. You will think that you know how to do everything the right way and you'll doubt yourself while doing it. Don't be too hard on yourself for trying to control every situation and suddenly talking to your husband "like a mom" because it's all a part of the process. Trust in your mother's intuition and it will guide you, it will save you and it will give you strength, even when you don't think you have anything left to give.
You will cry and cry and cry. You'll cry over the baby sleeping, not sleeping, first moments and everything in between. It's OK to cry. From tears of joy, to sobs, to the full-out ugly cry and the cry that turns into crazy laughter, it's all normal and it's all healthy to just let it out and allow yourself to cry. Just be sure to follow any good cry with ice cream (my personal comfort food of choice).
At times, you will hate your husband (Save your gasps! I know he's Prince William, but he's still a man, a new daddy and human). Let's be honest: You will hate him. You will hate him for playing possum in the middle of the night and for not being able to nurse the baby. You will hate him for not giving the baby a bath, for not reading your mind and helping you with the baby the way you really need right now. But, the good news is that you will also love him like you never thought possible. You will love him for fumbling with the baby stuff and trying to feed the baby "his way" and you will love him when you catch him and the baby having "their moment" together for the first time. It is a love-hate relationship, but it's beautiful. Allow yourself to be real with these feelings. Don't judge yourself for thinking this way; just embrace the mommy that you are becoming and the daddy that he is becoming. After all, you are new parents.
The third week is the hardest. I don't know why, it just is. It may be because the "baby buzz" has worn off and you're now in the real day in, day out, "we have a newborn" routine. Take a walk. Call a girlfriend. Go for a drive. Just know that it does get easier and the first month is right around the corner and along with it, exciting milestones and baby's first moments. Hold on, you can do it.
Let people who want to visit you, help you. Seriously, they are coming to celebrate and "see the baby," but they really do want to help. Let them. Ask them to bring you dinner. Do your dishes. Put away your laundry. Anything. Just help them help you.
Above all, I would tell my new mommy friend that it gets better! The sleep deprivation, the self-doubt, the fights with the hubby over how to soothe the baby -- it gets better, everyday. Enjoy the moments when baby sleeps on you because all too soon, you will be chasing said baby down the hall for a hug! And, before you know it, you will look back and wonder where the time went. When did this baby become a little person? You will cry happy tears knowing that you did survive the first year and you will smile embracing that motherhood is truly a gift that keeps on giving.