So this post is kind of an addendum to my ‘Milk and Cookies’ post, which was about my struggles with breast-feeding. While I’ve found ways to improve the nursing process, I feel like that has only been the tip of the chaos iceberg as of late. We’re still plugging away, and Mark is still exclusively breast-fed, but it dawned on me that there are times when I just HATE nursing. I felt crappy even admitting that, because I was simulaneously reading another woman’s blog about how sad she was to wean her son, and how hard it was to close that chapter.
Oops. I’m not that mom.
I’m thankful that I’ve had the success I’ve had, don’t get me wrong. I’m thankful we’re still at it, struggles and all. I know that there are women out there who would do anything to be able to nurse their babies. I know I’ve been fortunate it a lot of ways…
…but these past few weeks have been draining.
Mark is going through a tough phase right now. He’s fussy, clingy and needy. I love the little goober more than life itself, but THIS. IS. HARD. He just wants to be held, bless his friggin’ soul. He isn’t happy in his swing, seat, jolly jumper, exersaucer, bumbo, etc. for more than a couple minutes at a time. Baby-wearing is hard on me because my back is that of a 90-year-old. So. Dude needs cuddles, and lots of them. He also has me madly consulting Dr. Google against even MY better judgement. Sometimes I worry that his crankiness is more than crankiness. Sometimes I worry that something is wrong. However, cuddles seem to do the trick…eventually…most of the time.
Tonight was particularly hard because both of the little people fought bedtime with everything they had. I sat in the dark, wine in hand, on the bedroom floor of a very angry two-year-old. Through her tears, she listed all the infractions I was committing by asking her to get some decent rest. It got me thinking about the things that people don’t say. The things we experience in very ordinary life, but never talk about. The things that leave us questioning ourselves and wondering if we’re alone in our (sometimes scary) heads.
I feel like a terrible mom sometimes. I appreciate the people who reassure me that I’m not, but I still feel it. I’m starting to realize that most of us feel it, despite the sunny, happy, cute baby pictures we over-post on facebook.
I could probably write a novel on “the things that no one warns you about” but I’ll just focus on one that has stood out to me in past five months: the mother flippin’ post postpartum experience.
When you tell the world you’re pregnant, everyone will tell you that you wont sleep. Everyone will tell you that you’ll deal with gross bodily fluids. Everyone will tell you that your coffee will get cold, and that you’ll have to put yourself second. (Sometimes, though, I give Annika the grosser half of the banana or the smaller cookie and I put myself first.)
So I’ll tell you about some less-discussed elements of parenthood. Firstly, expect to feel ALL the emotions. ALL of them. And at 1000%. The hormone crash after birth was what surprised me the most. I cried because I felt like I had failed my guinea pigs by going to hospital to birth a baby. I bawled because I really liked my doctor and wanted to be her BFF, but she had left. I sobbed because I saw a restaurant where I ate while pregnant…there was no reason beyond that. I wept because I felt like I didn’t appreciate my kiddos while they were in my womb. Now they were out, and I couldn’t put them back in. The emotions were intense and I was scared they wouldn’t simmer.
My advice to new mommas would be this: expect and allow yourself to have ALL the feelings…and then sometimes no feelings…and then sometimes absolutely insane feelings. You’ve grown a human, and you’ve endured nine months of changes emotionally, physically and hormonally. Those first two weeks of crashing hormones were the most insane weeks, and I had literally zero people tell me this. So here I am. I’m telling you that YOU. WILL. FEEL. CRAZY.
Also? Give yourself time to get acclimatized to motherhood. When I was first pregnant, I thought I would feel like I “knew” that baby with my heart and soul while she was in the womb. I felt like I would have a sense of who she was. But I didn’t. Seeing the ultrasound screen left me with shock and wonderment because it felt like something outside of myself. I could hardly believe that the images before my eyes were taking place within me. It seemed almost alien. It was too surreal…too much to wrap my head around.
Then I had my daughter and they placed her in my arms. I remember she was slimy, wriggly and warm, but my first thought was “crap, don’t drop her! This baby is slippery!” I beat myself up for not focusing on the love and affection. Those first few days were clouded with crashing hormones and this almost inability to believe it was my new normal. The love grew and strengthened, but the bond was something that happened over time and continues to increase to this day. There were moments, though, when I didn’t understand my connection with her. Everything else going on in my head was too much. My mind was whirling.
A couple months after Annika’s first birthday, we learned I was pregnant with Mark. In some ways it was much the same. The fact that a person lived inside me didn’t feel completely real, despite the kicks and my massive (seriously MASSIVE) belly. It seemed silly and ridiculous, though it’s one of the most natural things in life. The difference occured when I had him. I felt more at ease…more confidant. Because of that, our bond arrived faster. HOWEVER! The insane hormone crash still happened and I had many-a-night of crazy “for no reason” tears. I had utter break downs that I could BARELY explain to Andrew.
I guess my POINT in all of this is that you should allow yourself some grace and some forgiveness. I’m speaking about my post partum experience, but honesty? Do this in life in general, too. It’s one thing to strive to do better and to be better, but forgiving youself is equally as important. And remember that even within ourselves, sometimes thing are out of our control.
For every phrase that people will regurgitate ad nauseam, there are just as many things people wont tell you…when it comes to pregnancy, kids, and…well…every major change in life. I’ve noticed that when I start talking…I start to realize that I’m not as crazy as I thought. Or even if I am…at least we’re in this shit together…
Happy Friday, Friends. Cheers!