It’s Not All Beer and Skittles

People won’t tell you this. New moms are too sleep-deprived and guilt-ridden to do it. And if someone hasn’t had a baby recently, they’ve forgotten. Having a baby means giving up lots and lots of really good stuff. Everyone always goes on and on about how amazing their lives are now that they have kids. Empty nesters and ticking biological clocks coo and talk baby talk at your infant. They want to hold and show off their baby jedi mind whispering tricks. Don’t get me wrong; I completely understand the enthusiasm. Babies are adorable. And fun.

But let me tell you that when you are a new mom you just might, maybe will, possibly let a tiny thought or two creep into your sleep-deprived swiss-cheese mind about how life would be without a baby. AND YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Here are a few of the things I miss now that I have a baby:

1) Conversation. My husband and I used to spend hours (HOURS!) in the kitchen or on the couch talking about life. I don’t even remember what we talked about, but it was fun to talk. F-U-N. But that was like the holy Grail of conversation. I also miss having a conversation with, like, anyone. I used to be able to listen and ask questions. I used to have room in my mind to think about you and your problems when you were in my presence, not just the drooling, pooping, jumping squirmer in my arms. Now, even if my child is sleeping while I am with a friend, I am twiddling my brain, scared that she is going to wake up, and for that I must have a plan. Will she be happy? Will she need to eat? Will she scream her head off and need to go pull some flowers off of the plants outside?

2) Going to the bathroom like a regular person. I remember when I used to be able to pee or poo whenever necessary. Now, at home, most of the time I can put S down and take a quick pee without her sticking out her cute little lip and pout-scream crying. If I don’t take care of my ‘other business’ while she’s asleep, I have a baby rocker chair (that she hates) that I put her in. Nevermind that it has vibrations and swingy toys for her, she will arch and grunt her way out of it, and I still have to multitask a number two sometimes. And then there’s the road trip. When we need to go somewhere (like Massachusetts) I stop all consumption of liquids and hold it until peeing into a Gatorade bottle starts sounding like a appropriate action to take. There’s also the car seat hater issue. Sometimes S is a rock star in the car seat and handles it like a cool baby. Sometimes she wants to punch it in the face. Once, we had to pull over into an apartment complex on the way home from grocery shopping because she hated life so much she started choke crying 30 seconds from Meijer. It’s not just terrible crying. She STOPS BREATHING. So, I don’t drive through it. On this particular occasion, I pull into this city apartment complex and jump jump jump the baby on my lap in the car for awhile. It’s HOT out. We sit there while she’s happy for a good 30 minutes, which is about as long as I ever want to wait between pees. I have to pee. There’s a car insurance place to my left, the apartments are in front of me, and a fenced in area where the recyclables and garbage go. Perfect! That’s where I nonchalantly squat, pull my skort over to the side, while holding my 18 pound baby, and pee. Right behind the PET #1 and #2 plastic bottle bin. Then I put her in her car seat and swung her between my legs for 10 minutes so she’d relax enough to ride home. Pretty sure no one noticed us.

3) Chewing. Ever since I gave birth it seems that someone has hit the accelerator on my life. I go pee fast. I fold the laundry fast. I read instruction manuals fast. I eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in a little over one minute. When you are a new nursing mother it is a fact of life that you won’t notice that you are starving(!) until just seconds before you pass out. But what really gets me is when I am putting together some kind of lunch in the kitchen and S starts to whine like she’s a little teapot about to blow and I’ve got to get as many calories in as I can before my hands are full for another hour and forty-five minutes. I have almost choked more times than I can count in the last 6 months.

4) Words. I love words. I used to use more of them. At the appropriate time. I think I said something to my husband about how we ‘pretendered’ today. (My brain showed up to the conversation with “pretended” in its left hand and “remembered” in its right and a really confused look on its face. I couldn’t stop it from coming out of my mouth. I should be happy. Most of the time there isn’t even a dumb fake word available to me.

6) Reading. Someday I would love to read a book again.  It took me three weeks to listen to Tina Fey’s audio version of Bossypants. (Okay, I confess, I haven’t heard the last CD yet.) I’ve been reading The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver for at least three months. I’m on page 73. I get the Christian Science Monitor every week, and when I get to read an article (or paragraph) I feel as if I’ve been sitting on my brain wrong and it’s fallen asleep, but then I move and the blood is starting tingle its way back in.

7) Doing stuff. I really miss being able to do something when I realize it needs to be done, like call the insurance company, put more rolls of toilet paper in the bathroom, or pluck the lone ranger hair that grows out of my chin every three months. But I also miss expressing my urge to create in any of the ways I used to: knitting, letter writing, drawing, playing guitar, gardening, or baking. I know it won’t be like this forever, but I feel creatively constipated always having to let my ideas and intentions get blown away by Hurricane Boo boo.

You thought I was going to say that I miss drinking wine ’till I’m dizzy, going out to dinner, and sex. Okay, I kind of miss going out to dinner. These are really just tiny details. The child changes your life and marriage and role in this world so drastically you can’t really understand it until you’re there. When I was pregnant, I was worried about getting to run several times a week and getting eight hours of sleep; not *chewing*. New motherhood is crazy.

I watched a couple holding hands walking down the sidewalk yesterday. The woman was obviously pregnant. I imagined a reality tv show soundtrack and the voice-over interviewees describing their hopes and dreams for parenthood…and then a tiny atom bomb and mushroom cloud replaced the serene couple there on the sidewalk.

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2 thoughts on “It’s Not All Beer and Skittles

  1. This is true. All of it. Especially #3. I remember during the foggy months of early mommyhood standing at the refrigerator at 3am after a two hour nursing session shoveling slices of turkey and cheese into my mouth and drinking Juicy Juice straight from the jug. I was starving but exhausted and just wanted some flippin’ protein in my belly!

    • Been there! Some days I still eat spoonfuls of peanut butter and some handfuls of chocolate chips for “lunch.” But those early days when you got stuck for HOURS nursing and were afraid to move the baby because she might wake up or not latch properly again for 12 hours were tough!

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