It’s 9:30pm, the kid is in bed (at least until 11pm, possibly until 2am), and I’m having a beer while I wait for my husband to return from a work trip. Did I go crazy while he was away? No, because my mom was here to help me out with Dubya. Holla! I managed to work out, get a new contact lens prescription, get my hair cut and highlights done, and do a Starbucks run solo. Again: holla!
And now I’m writing for the first time in forever. I realize I never posted a birth story, nor have I really detailed how things are going with the Big Dubya. Instead of doing a traditional post on those topics, though, some random thoughts about motherhood that dovetail into those stories:
- I never understood – and still don’t understand – the Mommy Wars. And being a C-section and formula feeding mom, I still don’t understand them, yet I fear them. So my C-section was medically necessary (breech baby plus low fluid meant GET BABY OUT NOW!), but I still find that there’s judgment about it because everyone assumes you scheduled it for your convenience. Sigh. No, I didn’t want to undergo major ab surgery just for my or my doc’s calendar, okay? As for formula feeding, you’d think I was intentionally poisoning the kid. But after my milk came in, I got severely sick, my supply dwindled to nothing, and Dubya was starving and dehydrated. Despite valiant attempts, even my lactation consultant gently told me it was better to formula feed since my child was losing weight. Yet I fear going to Itsy Bitsy Yoga because of the mom judgment there. It’s like, you know what? Is your kid happy, healthy, alive, well-loved? You’re doing it RIGHT.
- The newborn period is fucking hard. Full stop. Anyone who says it’s a wonderful time that you’ll always cherish either has an easy baby or is forgetting the nitty gritty of these first three months. It’s an obnoxious thing to say, but nothing prepares you fully for what happens when you introduce a newborn into your life. Everything gets shot to hell and you’re bowled over by it. I accept it, but that doesn’t mean I love it all. Now that she’s starting to be more interactive (cooing, giving smiles, hints of giggles), you start to realize: yes, yes this will be good. But at first? Get ready to ask yourself why, why, WHY you did this. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
- Your marriage will take a hit. I consider my marriage to be a strong, healthy one, but even we’ve bowed under the weight of introducing a new person to our family. We’ve fought about her crying, her feeding (when I worried about breastfeeding), how our routine has been affected (quiet dinnertimes are out the window for now, which was something my husband took hard), who’s getting less sleep, sex, etc. We’ve agreed to communicate better – what we need, what we want to give to the other person, instead of seething with resentment. I feel like a shitty wife these days, but we’re both trying very hard. Things are much better now that we’re almost out of the fourth trimester, but take note: you will fight. It won’t be pretty. Talk it out and listen to each other.
It sounds like I’m complaining, doesn’t it? But in reality, we love Dubya like whoa. She is an absolutely perfect and wanted addition to our family – acknowledging that her intro into our family was rough is just being honest. As we venture out with her more, as she charms us with her smiles and gurgles, we understand, once again, why we chose to do this. I want nothing more than to be present for her as she becomes a fully realized, hopefully happy person. I want Dubya to have a wonderful life – sleepless nights, struggles to understand the new you, and giving the finger to those who judge will be worth it to see her do what she wants to do.
But we’re also taking care of ourselves in order to take care of Dubya well. I think that means acknowledging when it’s hard or when we feel judged, giving ourselves opportunities to recharge, and trying to understand each other as we become parents in addition to being husband and wife.
In the end, becoming a parent has been everything I expected, and plenty more I didn’t expect. It’s a day-by-day thing, one which will require more balance, more recalibration, more negotiation, more change.
But I’m grateful to be here because she truly is the newest light of my life.