This Must-Read Memoir Gets Being a New Mom So Incredibly Right

In Body Full of Stars, author Molly Caro May writes in exhausting detail (literally) about the early days of first-time motherhood.

Her brutally honest account is both deeply personal and comfortingly universal. She doesn’t shy away from the pain—emotional, physical, cultural, generational—of what she calls her “passage into motherhood.”

In the months following her daughter’s birth, she suffered from hypothyroidism, pelvic floor dysfunction, urinary incontinence (once while dressed up and dancing at a wedding) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder—all while living with her newborn, husband, dog and her parents in tight quarters. These stressors combined to create mood swings so severe, she feared losing her beloved new family, along with her sense of self.

But good news, first-time moms (and those who are about to be): Her best, clearest, most lyrical writing practically dances off the page when she’s describing her love for her daughter.

Here, the shocking, awesome, ridiculous, sublime moments every new mother faces, in this mother’s singular voice.  

On the moment you first see your baby…

“My daughter comes out pink with her fist at her head, raised like a warrior. She comes from between my legs, moves toward my chest, leans towards me, stares right at me, our first gaze, eye to eye. In that stare she says Hello and also Here we go. “Hey,” I say…I could drop and do one hundred pushups. I. Am. A. Star. I gaze down at my daughter…Her face, oh, her everything face.”

On being left alone with your newborn for the first time…

“It’s my first day solo with my four-week-old daughter. [May’s husband] Chris is going back to work…Goodbye, I’ll see you in eight hours…‘We’re okay, we’re okay here,’ I say to us and walk from bed to chair to dresser to kitchen and around again. In his absence, I become incapable of taking care of Eula, or myself. How will I eat? How will I shower…I try to bounce her and all hell breaks loose. Bru [the dog], now neglected, noses an empty water bowl I cannot bend down to fill, and as I bounce, pee soaks through my pad and through my unwashed yoga pants so that a puddle starts to form on the concrete floor and he, still thirsty, actually considers drinking that. And Eula still screams. One day this will be funny.”

On not knowing what sleep even IS anymore...

“At night we draw our wool curtains, turn on ocean sounds, and put Eula to sleep in her co-sleeper next to our bed...We are held hostage by this rhythm. If we click on a stove to cook, she wakes up. If my toes crack, she rouses… We exist in whispered dark from 8 o’clock onward…Sleep becomes a state of the past. [But] on the rare day, she [naps] for two hours, and despite my laments about no self-time, I spend those extra minutes sitting next to her, watching her sleep, willing her to wake up because I miss her.”  

On being awkward AF in your new moms' group…

“The next day we get together with women from our birth class…We nurse our babes on couches and share. I want to be honest. I’m not interested in pretend or saving face. Ha, ha, I laugh about my incontinence because that’s all I can do. No one else is peeing on herself. Are we all in a private vortex? I take Eula’s tiny pants off to change her diaper and say, aloud, ‘Let’s show off these thighs.’ What kind of mother says that? Sometimes I don’t know why what comes out of my mouth comes out of my mouth. I am always the strange one…My black-haired babe stares up at me. We are here together she tells me. You and me. Do not worry. I don’t know who thought it was a good idea to put me in charge here.”

On seeing your own mom with new eyes…

“I had no idea I had no idea about my mother.”

On unconditional love…

“This girl has exploded my heart open. Words are stupid about it. No words for it. And there is the minor detail that I haven’t slept since she was born.”

RELATED: 23 Things Only New Moms Understand

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