I've been meaning to write something like this for a while, but have been struggling to put my thoughts together. And struggling with if I even wanted to share. And then once I think about sharing, the sheer amount of stuff I want to talk about comes pouring out.
Being a parent is hard. And I struggle a lot with if I'm editing too much to make it look all sunshine and rainbows, and leaving out some of the harder parts. Because the last thing I want to do is make someone else feel bad because they think that I have it all together when in reality I don't.
Especially in the early weeks. I feel like we shared a lot of cute pictures, and left out a lot of the real feelings. So here it goes.
Taking care of a baby is boring. And draining. And exhausting. Maternity leave is a blur to me. What even happened? I think I sat on the couch for four months wishing I could go to the bathroom. It went by painfully slow. It went by in a blink of an eye. I never want to go back to that phase of life. I miss it so much.
My life became nothing more than an obsession with a clock. How many hours since he ate last? When did he wake up? When's the last time I changed his diaper? Constantly keeping track of those 3 separate but parallel timelines. A bottle every 2.5 - 3 hours. A nap 2 hours after the last time he woke up. Change his diaper every 2-3 hours, but not while he's sleeping or within 30 minutes of eating, otherwise he'll spit up.
The best part of the day was when he'd take a nap on me. There was no clock when he was sleeping, and no crying either. I could get all the snuggles I wanted, and suddenly everything was worth it. But that's also the only time I'm able to get anything done. Such pressure to do SOMETHING. Pressure to put the baby down. But I don't want to.
I just want to stare at him all day. OMG have I really done nothing but stare at him all day?
I loved him from the beginning, and felt a sense of wonder and amazement that he was here, but he was such a stranger to me. I knew nothing about him, and had a hard time feeling really bonded to him. It was more a wave of protectiveness and need to take care of him because he was so young and helpless. But after carrying him around for 9 months, I felt disappointed that I didn't feel more connected to him.
It was more, I was in awe of him. I recently found a note I'd written in my phone from when he was only a week old: “Your eyes are the deepest, most beautiful things ever. You have perfect skin, which you spit up on all the time. You need a bath. I miss you when I’m looking right at you. Time is already going too fast and I don’t want you to ever get any bigger.” I remember this strong desire for him to wake up so I could see his eyes. I just wanted to stare into his eyes all the time. But looking back, the need I have to be close to him wasn’t as strong as it is now.
It wasn't until he was two months old that I started feeling that connection, that need. And then when he was 3 months old I became obsessed with him more and more each day. I definitely am more attached to him today than I was even two weeks ago. And I'm sure that will only grow exponentially, but it can be disappointing in the beginning.
It was never the guilt that got to me. Because I don't feel guilty for my choices - I know I'm doing the best thing for me and my family. It's the anger over the comments I'd get.
And again, I feel like I should be whispering this.. **We chose to formula feed our baby** because we've been so trained to feel guilty about a decision like that. But screw that. I'm proud of it. I love our decision. I feel no guilt. I feel anger at the people who want me to feel guilty about it. People I didn't even expect. The ones I was ready to defend myself against...said nothing?
I still feel like there are some people who think that deep down, had I tried breastfeeding I would have LOVED it. But no. I wouldn't. It's truly not for everyone. And that's okay. I love that other people love it, but I love my formula more.
I love my sleep. I love our equal parenting. I love that Tom's bond with the baby is at least as strong as mine. I love that I feel like me and my body is my body. And our baby is super happy. So no, it wasn't because I couldn't. I didn't have a bad experience with it. I'm not feeling regret over our decision. We chose this, and we LOVE our decision.
I've always been a very level headed and calm person. Sometimes to the amazement of others. And yet... in the past few months I have very much not been that person. Not always, but occasionally I've been dealing with some major postpartum anxiety. It drives me nuts because it's not something I can logic away, which is how I deal with most things in life. I'll know my reaction is over the top, I'll know there's nothing to worry about, and I'll know if the worst case scenario happens, that I can handle it. But that's not enough to make the anxiety go away. And that's part of why being a new mom is so hard. Because in addition to learning how to keep a tiny human alive, your hormones are doing all kinds of crazy things that make everything harder.
And what I'm going through isn't even that bad - it's not disruptive enough to require intervention, and I'm not dealing with depression on top of it like some moms do, but it's still enough to make life just a little bit harder.
And then there's the silly things. Things that don't really matter because they're so trivial compared to everything else that has changed in my life, but they've still changed, and they're still obnoxious. My hair, for one. I swear I've shed a mid-sized sheep dog of hair around this house. Annoying and gross, but also the texture of my hair has changed. It's wavier/curlier than it was before. I have no idea what to do with it, and it always just looks and feels a bit different than what I'm used to. Just another reminder that things aren't quite the same as they were. My clothes don't fit the same, or at all. Same with my shoes. My sleep is completely different.
My wrists hurt so much in those first weeks. They'd throb with pain, and my fingers went completely numb. Every time I'd hold the baby, my arm and wrist would contort in crazy angles, but that seemed to be the only way to hold onto him. And then I'd feel like I couldn't, or shouldn't hold the baby, and that would make things worse.
I still have a hard time believing that this is life now - it seems so weird and just...where did this baby come from?! It's almost like I don't remember being pregnant and that it was just a fuzzy dream, but somehow here he is?
Sometimes after he goes to bed and we're crashing on the couch for a few minutes I forget he's here. A glimpse of a former life that feels so familiar, and yet we're so not there any more. I don't feel like a parent, just like I don't feel like an adult, but then I look in the mirror and whoops there it is.
I feel so lucky to get to see him grow and learn every day, and while he still doesn't remind me at all of myself, he feels like he belongs with us. I still can't comprehend how he's changed our life going forward, but I know it's better because of him.