Let’s review how we got here. The events of the last seven months:
1) For some reason B and I thought we could handle a baby, no prob. We gave in to Biology and said, let’s do this thing.
2) Nine months of fatigue and weirdness and hormonal delusion for me. One weekend of mad crazy baby prep (involving moving heavy stuff and using nifty tools) for B. (Okay, to be fair, someone had to talk me down from all of my hormonal narrow ledges. B did an excellent job of that. Many times.)
3) Labor/ delivery, which for us, luckily luckily luckily, was almost equivalent to a long-distance athletic event. Except at the end we had a baby rather than a big stupid trophy that’s exciting for about a day and then you want to Goodwill it. Babies are different.
4) Baby Boot Camp: Two weeks of more hormonal delusion, humongous chunks of sleep deprivation, several dollops of bloody pain, all sorts of new baby human weirdness, sprinkled with diapers and receiving blankets and reheated frozen meals and breakfast at 3 AM or 1 PM and poop and feeding diaries, all with a stinky umbilical cord stump on top.
5) Next was BEING ALONE with a baby when B went back to work. This meant that I had to find ways to poop, eat, and keep myself bathed and clothed. This is when I a) built up my left biceps to elite status and b) started to really lose my mind. I had to start multi-tasking for real for the first time in my life. Remember Swiss cheese brain? So, multi-tasking also meant taking big leaps over those holes. Take a minute to remember your brain before the child. Wow.
6) I gave myself an imaginary trophy for leaving the house and driving alone with the baby. I went to meet other new members of “The Motherhood.”
7) I start spending time in “The Motherhood.” This means I actively seek out any and all groups, meetings, and activities for moms and people with babies so that I can escape the terror of being alone with a tiny human…
…and maybe learn how to get my nipples to heal and get the tiny human to stop screaming. Also, any time I am in a store or public place, I exchange knowing and sympathetic smiles with other women carting around new babies. I begin to understand the distance and tension between women and men, and women who have children and women who don’t. There’s a reason…hell, there are a million reasons for this. It made me really uncomfortable for a long time (funny, by that I mean 4 or 5 months). But then,
8) My nipples heal, S stops vomiting everything up once or twice a day, I start to get semi-regular sleep and showers. I can go on walks and meet people in public places on time and change diapers, nurse, and play with S while having something like a conversation. S starts to giggle and smile and hug my neck hard. I cry tears of real joy. But I realize that none of this is really ever going to get easier. It’s just going to change. I am different. My body, my brain, and especially my identity are different.
9) I resent my husband and friends and family for not helping enough, when really, they are doing everything they are able to do. This is when I realize two more things: 1) No one is going to be able to be in touch with my feelings or understand my emotional and spiritual needs if I don’t understand them first. Yes, people can listen and help, but it’s my job to care for myself. To be my own “mother.” 2) I need to pay attention and learn how to become the mother I want to be, and then effectively communicate my needs to others, rather than just react my way through the next 50 years.
So, I’m going to do some writing about this process. Actually, there are workshops for this sort of thing, but you have to be able to leave your child with someone else when they are awake and/ or hungry, which is still not in our skill set yet. Plus, I need to spend the $250 on gas to drive my sleep-hating baby around town with the windows down and her favorite song on repeat so that she will nap.