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All moms know the complete and total joy, heartache, exhaustion and emotional mess that are the days right after giving birth. After waiting for a baby for nine long months, the babe arrives only for you to find out that you have no idea what you're doing, that breastfeeding sucks and that no amount of napping beforehand can prepare you for the hell that is newborn sleep deprivation. Combine that with fluctuating hormones and a body that is still physically recovering from giving birth and it's no surprise that new moms are—quite literally—a hot mess.
That's why when first-time mom Danielle Haines posted a photo on Facebook of herself just three days postpartum, it struck such a deep chord with the mom community. She's pictured topless and holding her baby against her chest while tears well up in her exhausted eyes. The striking image perfectly sums up new motherhood, a journey all moms understand.
Haines writes, "This is a picture of me 3 days postpartum. I was so raw and so open, I was a f***ing mess. I loved my baby, I missed his daddy (he went back to work that day), I was mad at my mom, my heart hurt for my brother because my mom left us and now I had a little boy that looked like him, my nipples were cracked and bleeding, my milk was almost in, my baby was getting really hungry, I was feeling sad that people kill babies, like on purpose, I had not slept since I went into labor, I didn't know how to put my boobs away, my vagina was sore from sitting on it while nursing constantly, I was kinda [losing] my mind."
She goes on to share that when she told one of her sisters that she was "a mess," her sister—already a mom—told her she'd been there too. And the knowledge of knowing that she wasn't alone with these feelings was powerful. As Haines puts it, "It helped to know she went crazy once too!!!"
Her sister insisted on taking a picture of her looking "so raw and beautiful" which resulted in the image you see above. And Haines is grateful she did. She soon realized she could get through these dark days with the support of friends and family. "I needed her. I needed her to nurse my baby, I needed more help with his latch ... I needed her to tell me my baby was OK. This is real [postpartum] mamas." She then invites other mamas to share their postpartum stories.
The photo has since been shared over 20,000 times and has inspired a slew of supportive comments from other been there, done that moms.
One thing that we often forget in this age of mommy wars is that there are few things more powerful than a community of moms lifting each other up and telling each other, "Yes, I've been there too, and you'll be OK."
Because, at the end of the day, we've all been there.