Monday, January 30, 2012

Michael and I were talking this past weekend (with me in the room, that’s normal, especially when I’ve had a redbull) about the first few months of parenthood. And I realized I had this black void of a memory, from July to late October. It was as if my subconscious destroyed those memories and I’m running on pleasant thoughts about how absolutely wonderful my baby is. Michael remembers things differently… because he can actually recount what it was like.
When I sit here and try to recall what it was like as new parents, the memories do start to come back. Blurry, at first, with big pieces missing. But shocking, nonetheless.

First of all, the lack of a memory stems from the fact that I was getting LITTLE to NO sleep. Brianna hasn’t always been a champion sleeper – for the first month and a half she would only sleep on me, which meant mama got absolutely no sleep for fear of dropping her (which I did. I’m a bad mom). Also, the first few days back from the hospital were a nightmare. We were looking at moving, in the dead of Memphis summer, with crazy hot temperatures, and a newborn. I was getting no sleep, we had deadlines, and everything was scaring me. It was bad. I was freaking out in my head. And I didn’t want to tell anyone. Michael found me crying a few times; whether it due to exhaustion or possible postpartum depression, I don’t know. The internet told me she should like her bath; B cried during the ENTIRE process, every single time! The internet also told me that a little bit of spit up was normal; I didn’t realize I would  be SOAKED in her spit up after every meal (which was every 2 hours)… so I lived in Michael’s shirts (or naked) most of the time. Why get dressed when your clothes were gonna be soaked in a matter of hours anyway? We didn’t have a rocking chair, or ANY chair, that I could sit in with her during that first month. Seriously. We didn’t have anything. So while I held her 24/7 I cried because my back hurt, my arms hurt, my head hurt, my body was soaked and cold, and she would not stop crying. I tried putting her down in her bassinette, but she would not have it. I bought a Rock N Play and she would stay there for short periods of time,  but never long enough for me to brush my teeth, let alone take a shower. She had projectile poop (and I was changing her diapers on a work out bench because, again, during that first month we had to move twice – everything was everywhere except where I needed it). She had projectile vomit. I dropped her (did I mention I was a bad mom?) and sobbed like a baby while we took her to the ER (she was fine, and still is, but I’m still a bad mom). I wasn’t the milk-producing factory like I had hoped to be (until I started eating oatmeal and drinking beer, but that wasn’t until the 2nd month or so), or if I was having a good day only it was because one of my Ladies decided to cooperate, and not the other. I had no patience, my husband had no patience, and we fought. We fought because we were both exhausted and a newborn baby is never easy. Those first six weeks were the most difficult period of parenthood to date.
So basically, it’s self-preservation that I am going through. Childbirth was nothing in comparison to parenthood, especially when those LONG days and LONG nights seem to never end. When I was in the thick of it all I felt like this entire thing was out of my grasp. Sure, I LOVE her and did from the moment she was conceived. But I would be lying if I told you that I didn’t cry, and have doubts, and hate myself, and it may be very possible that I did have a mild form of postpartum depression. I can see how women can slip into that; with the lack of sleep and enormous pressure of being a mom, sometimes it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
If I were to see my New-Mom self I would be sure to tell her the following:
Look me in the eye. Listen to what I’m saying.
This is hard. You’re a mess. You want to sleep. You want to take a shower. You want her to stop crying for two hours (two out of 24 isn’t that big of a request). I know but its not going to happen that way. This time is going to be hard but its going to be worth it. Keep looking for the answers, and keep trying new things. You’ll get the hang of this eventually (I promise). You’re not a bad person for asking questions or for being clueless. You’re a GOOD MOM. YOU HEAR ME?! I said YOU’RE A GOOD MOM! That little girl needs your achy arms around her 24/7 because that is all she knows. That beautiful little girl will one day look at you and smile, laugh, and hold out her arms because being with you is one of her favorite places to be! You’re the most integral part of this little one’s life. You’re more than just a “vending machine” and you’re more than just a “bed”. You will sleep again, you will shower again, you will brush your teeth again but these moments with your crying/sleeping/puking/pooping/bathing baby are moments you will never have again. Pretty soon she won’t fit into those newborn diapers, or that 0-3 month dress. Pretty soon you will forget all of this, so sit there, in that back-breaking position, with your arms stuck cradling her, and watch her, damnit. Watch her and don’t forget. She is so so SO SO SO worth it.

"Just keep moving forward". That is the key.
So to all other new moms, or moms-to-be (and for dads-to-be, too)… hang in there. EVERYTHING will be stressed. Your nerves will  be on end. Your body will be different. Men: your wife will cry and will get angry and you guys will fight. You will be pushed to the very limit. But hang in there. One of these days your little one will be six months old and she will be laughing and rolling and teething and melting your heart.
Hang in there.
Would only sleep on me. Notice M's button down shirt.

Look at our faces. Those looks say it all.
Notice: I had no time to look cute, even for a picture.

Poor thing.
She didn't wanna be down there, getting her picture taken.
Look at her now. LOVE.

That smile is worth it.
I wish I could have seen this picture when she was a month old.

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