I'm going to be really honest in this post, and try to avoid sarcasm. Cute baby pictures will be included as per usual.
For the first six weeks of Dalton's life, I was riding on a wave of euphoria.
I was so happy that nearly 2 years after we decided we were going to try to become parents, I was holding my baby in my arms. I honestly really didn't see what all the fuss was about regarding that horrible, terrible newborn period. I'd began parenthood on nearly 48 hours of no sleep, and then only slept for 90 minutes at a time at the absolute maximum for his first week of life. And I don't even remember feeling that tired! I'm pretty sure I'm more tired now. The “baby blues” were a mystery to me.
|He looks like a different baby now! So much bigger!|
Nothing really changed at six weeks, babywise, although my husband did go back to work. Dalton is still the cutest most loveable child on earth, and he is behaving exactly as he should. The difference was that I lost my ability to cope. It's not like it had been easy before - like any baby, he was thrust from a nice, cozy, warm home out into the cold, bright, scary world and wasn't always happy with that transition. There were sleepless nights and 2am crying for seemingly no reason. There was all the confusion that one would expect when a tiny person whose only communication option is crying enters your family. But the stress seemed manageable and the joy and love was overpowering.
|Someday I will frame his newborn pictures.|
At around 6 weeks I felt like the rug got yanked out from under me. First, I was so upset about going back to work and leaving him that I found myself sobbing several times a day. Daily exercise seemed to help with that, and so did a long phone conversation with our daycare provider. Still, I was struggling with crying bouts and despair.
I suddenly felt crushed with the weight of responsibility. Maybe before we were in survival mode, just taking it one diaper at a time, and unable to focus on the big picture . This beautiful, teeny tiny little boy that I love more than anything in this world is 100% dependent on me. He needs me for literally everything, down to making sure his airway is clear to breathe, to food, to even hydration. (Not to minimize what a wonderful father and husband Eric is, but he just can't breastfeed.) The enormity of that really hit me out of nowhere. It’s terrifying. And it’s for life. Sure, you can say it’s for 18 years, but we all know the motherhood switch doesn’t turn off, ever. I’d previously been able to use the “take it one day at a time” approach successfully. But now I started wondering “What if he never stops crying? What if I never sleep again? What if he will never sleep anywhere but on me?”
|Who me? Crying?|
I hadn’t missed our old lifestyle at all. We were married for six years before Dalton was born. We’d had plenty of date nights, plenty of time spent at bars with friends, plenty of weekend trips just the two of us. I know it’s still possible to do these things, but we don’t have any family in this state to babysit, and we will already be paying a lot of money for childcare while we’re at work. We both knew having a baby meant those times were essentially done, or at least changed for us. We
were excited to begin a new chapter.
|Our last photo as a family of two. So beautiful.|
I wasn’t pining away for a date night. However, it did strike me around this time that more than just that aspect of my life was forever changed. Sure, I was fine saying goodbye to our favorite bars, but maybe I wasn’t as prepared as I thought I was to give up doing everything on my terms. Like eating. Using the bathroom. Making a phone call.
Of course, with that frustration and fear comes the mom guilt. Why should I be upset? I wanted this baby in my life so badly that I once secretly cried at work after yet another negative pregnancy test while watching a mother kiss her daughter goodbye. I should only ever experience feeling joy, happiness, and love no matter what happens. I still do experience those emotions, all the time, at a greater intensity than I ever could imagine. It’s just that their redheaded stepchild counterparts have now snuck in.
|He tried to fight them off for me.|
I was also feeling more and more like a parenting failure. The whole time I was pregnant, I constantly heard about how that “skin to skin time” after birth is absolutely crucial. And I truly didn’t feel worried because I had missed out onthat. But just a few short weeks later, all the sudden I was inundated with “drowsy but awake”. I had never even heard of this, although granted I didn’t research infant sleep much, because I held out hope that I’d have one of those magic perfect sleepers. That didn’t pan out, so I had become the stereotypical mom frantically reading baby sleep books and asking everybody and willing to buy anything that would make my baby sleep.
Well, apparently you are supposed to be putting them down to sleep the second they start to look sleepy. Now everyone from the book authors to the pediatrician was angrily pointing their fingers at me demanding to know why I would cuddle with my baby until he slept, and then sometimes even nap on me, or at least that’s how it felt. First it was essential to hold your baby, now it was “what kind of mother are you, holding your baby all the time?”
|I just love seeing this squishy face on my chest so much.|
On top of all this, or maybe what was causing all this, hormones were bitch slapping me left and right. First I was crying because he wouldn’t sleep anywhere but on us and I couldn’t sleep. Then I was crying because he wouldn’t sleep anywhere but on us and it was all my fault and I had ruined him for life and he would never be able to sleep or be successful in any way. Then I was crying because he wouldn’t let me put him down to sleep. Then I was crying because he would let me put him down to sleep and I missed him and soon he would be crawling, walking, driving, and never want to cuddle with mom again and this was my ONE CHANCE. And now I’m crying just remembering all that crying.
I have a ton of support. I can’t even remember everyone who has reached out to me, listened to me, and told me it gets easier. And logically I know it must. I’ve been teaching elementary school for ten years, so probably 300-400 students, and not one of them has reported sleeping on their parents, or cried for no reason all day, or been unable to function unless someone is holding them in their arms. But, deep down, I don’t really believe any of these people who say it supposedly gets easier.
I don’t really have a point for sharing this, other than to remember my feelings at this point in my life. I thought I was in the clear since I felt fine when we brought him home from the hospital, but hormones are tricky bastards. I think they were just laying low to build their strength and launch their attack when they were at their most powerful.