I know this is going to come as a shock to you veteran mommas, but this parenting thing is H.A.R.D. It's not like I didn't know it would be hard. Of course I knew it was going to be hard. (
Don't get me wrong, I adore Madeline, and I'm sure my blog will soon return to showcasing adorable pictures. I'm over the moon to be a Momma, but at the same time, the early days of parenthood can also be quite disturbing. If I acted like I was blissfully sailing through all this, I would be lying. I think there's a misconception that new moms should feel positively giddy with happiness all the time, which is why when things like the baby blues strike, it makes those new mothers feel so guilty. So, here's what I've discovered so far.
1. The baby blues are real, yo.
Before having Maddie, I'd read about the baby blues. Every parenting book out there mentions them. But, for some reason, maybe because of what we'd been through with Ellis, I thought I would be immune. In my pregnancy glow, I just couldn't imagine being depressed after the birth of my beautiful, healthy daughter. As it turns out, I'm just as susceptible as everyone else.
The mood swings during pregnancy? Ha, those weren't mood swings. The baby blues? Now, that's a mood swing! I've had periods of uncontrollable crying for no reason...like at the grocery store. I've had times where I've had to hand the baby over to Eric and just go sob in the other room. I've had times times where I've just wanted to pull a bedspread over my head and stay there for a full 24 hours.
My life as I knew it is suddenly gone, and I don't think there's anything you can do to fully mentally prepare for that fact. That doesn't mean that I don't have a new-and-improved wonderful life ahead of me, but it's very disconcerting to not recognize yourself anymore. It takes time to wrap your mind around your new reality, and the hormones, body aches, and crying baby don't make it any easier.
As the weeks have gone on, the crying fits are much fewer and further in between, and I know I'm now on the other side of the baby blues. Thank goodness because all that crying was distracting me from my adorable, perfect little baby.
2. Breastfeeding sucks
Here's a dirty little secret for you: I HATE breastfeeding. Proponents of breastfeeding always talk about the amazing bonding experience you feel with your child, and how it's the most natural way to be a mother in the world. Well, I say bologna.
In the first few days, it was so stressful that I would burst into tears just thinking about feeding her. First, it was painful. Secondly, I was stressed about possibly starving my baby. We met with a lactation consultant while we were in the hospital, and while she was there, she sprinkled her happy, hippie fairy dust, and it all seemed so easy and natural. The thing is, the lactation consultant eventually had to leave, and I had to turn back into a pumpkin, Cinderella. Once I was on my own, it continued to hurt, and I couldn't quite get her in the right position.
Almost three weeks later, things are running much more smoothly. It doesn't hurt like it did, and baby girl is definitely not starving. (She's getting huge.) It DOES get easier every day. Still, I don't like it much. It doesn't make me feel bonded with my daughter. Holding her does, watching her smile does, letting her sleep on my chest does...but feeding her? Not so much. In fact, if anything, it makes me feel a bit resentful. I'm not just a human milk machine damn it! It also makes me feel trapped. (I'm not the whip-the-boob-out-in-public kind of gal despite my tendency to share too much information on the Internet.)
So why am I still doing it? The guilt obviously. While I don't like it, it's not like it's unbearable either. I know it's better for Madeline. (Another recall on formula the week we brought her home didn't help either.) Plus, I'm stubborn. I've come this far, I can't just give up now. Giving up would be a tremendous failure. Not acceptable for me at this point. This week we're going to start giving Maddie one bottle of expressed milk a day. By the time I go back to work, she's got to be fully on the bottle. That goal makes everything more bearable because I know I won't be trapped forever.
3. I didn't know what fear was till I became a mother
The responsibility of caring and providing for such a helpless little being is frightening as hell. What if she's not getting enough to eat? What if she gets sick? What if she doesn't sleep tonight? What if I can't get her to stop crying? Is she warm enough? Is she too warm? Is she still breathing? Is it okay that we can't get her to stay on her back? Am I holding her enough? Am I holding her too much? Where are we going to send her to school? How are we going to pay for college? What if the economy tanks forever and her only future is, "Do you want fries with that?" Where's the cat? What if I drop her? What if someone tries to steal her? What if I leave her in the elevator? What if daycare is bad for her? What if we get into a car accident? Is her eyesight okay? What's that bump on her lip? Are we changing her diaper often enough? Is she pooping enough? Is her poop the right color?
See what I mean? There's a lot of what-ifs! Sometimes I worry that I'll never be able to relax again. And, my guess is, that I probably won't. Sigh....deep breaths.
There it is; what I've learned about parenting so far. I hope this didn't come across as too whiny. I'm loving my little munchkin more and more every day. And, as I get into the swing of Momma-hood, I'm learning to swim instead of sink.