Since joining the blogging world, many people have asked me how I know Ashley Richards (Co-Founder of Desert Moms). Besides my own mom, Ashley was the one other mom friend of mine who pulled me out of the trenches during that mind-blowing initial transition into motherhood.
Can we just talk about that for a second? Does anyone else feel like nothing and no one prepared you for those first few weeks of “Newborn life is brutal..is this forever”? I’m sorry, I had to say it! I’m sure not everyone feels this way, but the word “overwhelming” doesn’t quite cover that period of time for me. While it was magical having our baby I’ve dreamt about meeting my entire life, those first few weeks were basically a marathon of “Survivor”. Of course I LOVED my little girl, but I had some other wrenches thrown in there (severe post-delivery complications plus postpartum anxiety, but that’s for a different day) and I was the first in my group of friends to have a baby. Yep…I was a mess.
My husband was incredible, but as a first time dad, he was right there in those trenches with me and doing his very best too. Our closest friends were SO supportive and encouraging. However, they didn’t have kids, and I desperately needed to talk to someone who did.
Between the medical help and the emotional support, I leaned on my mom for so much. She’s hands down my best friend in this world, BUT she too encouraged friendships with other moms and connected me with her friend’s daughter in law (cue Ashley).
When we first met, Ashley had little Ellie with her and was pregnant with her son, Eli. We sat there and talked about EVERYTHING. Hormones, physical healing, nursing, you name it. She connected me with a group of moms at her church, a couple of Facebook groups, but more than anything, she was REAL. As I saw her head nodding, adding humor to the mix with stories of her own, she assured me that I was not alone and wasn’t completely crazy.
My post-delivery complications involved me being on heavy cardiac meds with rough side effects for about 6 weeks. Even though we had only hung out once, Ashley texted me every single day to check on me, letting me know she was praying for me, and gave me so many adorable hand-me-down outfits from her little girl (which, as we know is basically a hug in a bag). When I was 3 weeks postpartum, she and her husband invited us to their house for a BBQ. This was our first outing besides doctors appointments and when we got there, she genuinely congratulated us for getting out of the house. He and I looked at each other and were like “She GETS it!! This WAS mission impossible. THANK YOU for acknowledging that!”. It felt like such a huge win. Plus, going to someone else’s house who already has all the baby gear is a beautiful thing.
Right after Ashley had her baby boy, I was supposed to come over to bring dinner for their family, but she knew that I was going through some intense PPA. She told me to forget dinner, asked me to come over, made ME coffee, and we talked about all the things. Who just had a baby again? Our other hang-outs always involved us sitting on the floor with our littles talking about our families, different milestones, and all things in between offering encouragement and support. Always.
As the water began to simmer and life calmed down, I realized I wanted to be that for someone else and since then, I’ve tried my best to be that friend to other new mamas. My take-away? Be someone’s Ashley.
Here's how to be someone's Ashley:
LISTEN….but really listen, offer advice when asked, but mostly just be there.
SHARE…Share your success stories but also a lot of your #momfails. Let her know she’s NORMAL and everything is a stage!
BE REAL….Invite her into your home, but don't try to make it look perfect. Wear the yoga pants and the messy bun without makeup.
CHECK IN….Even when I couldn’t answer right away, just knowing I could count on a text a day from a friend was such a comfort.
So mamas, I encourage you to be this friend to others, whether you just met or have known them for years. We’re in this together. And to the new moms out there, welcome to the club. It’s full of crazy but SO full of love and every bit worth it. You’ve got this and we’ve got you.