Look at that girl.
Look at that girl in the picture just basking in the glory of new motherhood.
Look at her with her hair and makeup miraculously still (mostly) in tact after just giving birth.
Look at that smile, the look in her eye — she’s a natural, right?
That girl in the picture is me, and by no means was I (or am I, for that matter) a natural.
Honestly, when I saw this photo my husband snapped of the moment our son and I met for the first time, I was surprised at how “good” I looked.
And by “good,” I suppose what I’m trying to say is I wasn’t expecting to look so “normal” after what I’d just gone through — you know, the whole bringing a baby into the world thing.
So please believe, I don’t say that to be boastful or conceited.
I say that because pictures can be deceiving.
What you may see in this picture is a glowing new mama with her newborn baby.
You see the moment her precious son was laid on her chest for the first time.
You see him looking up at her with pure love and her looking back at him in sheer astonishment at his beauty.
And that moment will indeed forever be engrained deep in my heart. I will treasure that life-altering moment always.
What you see in the picture is part of the story, yes.
But it’s certainly not all of it.
Because here’s what you don’t see . . .
You don’t see a woman who thought she had an idea of how labor and delivery went, who went to the birth classes, but really had NO. CLUE.
You don’t see a woman who was up through the night with labor pains intensified by meds when her contractions weren’t strong enough.
You don’t see a woman who cried her eyes out early that morning when her labor wasn’t progressing and she finally said “yes” to the epidural she had been dead set against.
Oh, and you certainly don’t see the mama who just got the surprise of her life when she thought she was having a girl yet out came a healthy albeit quite unexpected BOY.
You don’t see that mama coming up with a boy name on the spot and tossing her chosen girl name to the side — the name she had been referring to her unborn child as for months, the name spelled out in wood letters hanging from the purple wall above the crib at home.
You don’t see her realization that the closet full of girl’s clothes already washed and hung by size would have no use now, nor the pretty pink bedding or assortment of bows and headbands.
You don’t see her internally wrestling with the emotions of this surprise yet never once ungrateful for the gift she had been given because she knew, no doubt, he was a gift.
You don’t see the mama who gave her all to bring that boy into the world but is already completely exhausted and overwhelmed.
You don’t see the mama with blurry eyes as her blood pressure dropped and she watched her baby wheeled out of the room with her husband.
You don’t see the mama who passed out in the bathroom shortly after.
You don’t see the mama who was scared and full of uncertainty.
You don’t see her desperately trying to make breastfeeding work around the clock because it was part of the plan. Her plan.
You don’t see her tears or her guilt or her confusion.
You don’t see her lying in that hospital bed that first night thinking, what the heck am I doing? Why is this so hard? What am I doing wrong?
You don’t see any of that.
So sure, there’s a lot you may see in this picture.
And a lot of what you see is real.
Adoration. Wonder. Beauty.
So much love. Overflowing love.
But there’s a lot you don’t see as well.
There’s a lot going on behind the scenes.
When you see another mama’s “picture-perfect” photo as you’re scrolling your newsfeed, just remember:
There’s ALWAYS more than meets the eye.
She doesn’t have it all together.
None of us do.
We’re just trying our best to get from moment to moment. We’re just trying to figure this thing out day by day.
We all are.
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This piece originally appeared on the author’s blogging page Motherhood Awry — follow her for more motherhood inspiration, humor, and truths.