The Mama Letters: Vulnerable

Vulnerable. Around the third day we were in the hospital after Will was born, this was the word that came to me. Vulnerable.

I felt so bloody vulnerable. So needy. So dependent. And I hated it.

Emotionally, the waterworks had opened up. I was crying at everything. Half of my tears were happy tears, but I felt broken open, defenseless, raw - everything I felt there for the world to see.

Physically, I was exhausted, weak, and finding it hard to get in and out of bed.

And we had been having trouble getting baby to sleep at night. He was cluster-feeding, unsatisfied by the leisurely colostrum I was producing.. And whereas once he had been content at my breast, now he was fussy. In agony I remember crying because I couldn't even give him that. I wanted so much to be a good mom, to meet his needs, and I felt I couldn't. It seared my heart.

He was losing too much weight (not an uncommon occurrence for newborns), but they pressured us to supplement his feedings with a mix of my own milk and formula. We started a regimen of feeding, then pumping every 3 hours around the clock that left little time to sleep.

I needed my husband so very badly. Not just physically, but emotionally. I needed the help of nurses, of my mother. I hated it - having to ask for this help, having a hard time getting in and out of bed, needing things handed to me, needing people to bring me food, needing help with the baby, needing shoulders to cry on.  What I wanted was to be the one giving, the one handling things, the one who had it all together. After all, there was now this little baby who needed me 24-7.

This was when the word vulnerable came to me. The opposite of being self-sufficient, in control. I was broken, and I needed to be, to start to let it be okay to not be large and in charge, to not know it all, to not do it all. The birth was only the beginning of feeling out of control and needy as I embark on raising a child.

Even now, a month later, one of my biggest challenges remains accepting, and being at peace with my own vulnerability and neediness.

God, help me learn how to be vulnerable...  Oh wait... I guess you already are...


  1. Before having children, we imagine all the things we're going to teach our kids, but really we're the ones who end up learning so much from them.

    Thanks for sharing. Thinking about you daily.

    Amy B.

  2. I LOVE YOU!!! This post is wonderful V!

    Your vulnerability is just as beautiful as your strength thank you for being courageous enough to share it. It's what makes us all human whether we admit it or not. There are some days when we all feel like powerful tiger mammas, large and in charge - and some days we feel like babies who just can't get the right milk or be soothed.

    It does suck to be needy, and I know that feel even more vulnerable when I do reach out and don't get exactly what I so desperately need at that exact moment. Then baby gets fussy and think I'm never going to eat again... which reinforces that needy is bad... but it's not.

    I'm learning that being needy lets those who love us do and give of themselves, which they so desperately need and want because they love YOU. Just as much as we love to be the ones giving, those who love us also need to be needed.

    Those who are most able to give us what we really need are the ones who have gone through it themselves.. everyone else is just trying their best, but don't know "how to do it right." Be patient with yourself, be needy and receive hungrily from those who feed you best. Protect yourself when you need to. Be patient with those who are trying but don't yet know how to give to you properly - you can teach them when you're rested and hope they learn :) Stagger your horses so everyone gets a chance to love you through this process while you love Will through the rest of his life we want to be there by your side for it all!

    There's a lot of love and grace and humanity wrapped up in the cycles of life - and it's the exchange that makes the ride worthwhile.

    From one vulnerable, worn-out sister to another -

  3. It's so hard to feel helpless and vulnerable! If you're anything like me, you love your freedom & independence and all of a sudden it's stripped away. As hard as it is, it's so important to let others help you in this time. We can't do it all and that's okay.

  4. you are so right.
    and i love that zooey quote. where did you find it?