I love my kid and I'm beside myself that she's finally here. Being a mom is the most important gig of my life. This isn't a hard sell, even though I know it sounds somewhat like a disclaimer before I go into the horrors of postpartum life. Hell, maybe it is a disclaimer. But either way, up front, you must know I'm amped to have this little nugget to hug and hold and feed and marvel at. It's worth all of the bullshit that pregnancy holds--from the cankles to the constipation--and beyond. When they set that slippery little being on your chest, it's game over. Instant mom. And, in my case, instant sucker. She can have whatever she wants. I am putty. I am her puppet. Fin.
So, let's cut to the chase about this whole postpartum thing. There are some rough moments. I've decided to be fully transparent with 10 of mine below.
1) While I was pregnant, I had this feeling like the world was happening, but I was not a part of it in any real way. I was on the outside looking in. I didn't belong to anything. I was on my own island. Post-baby, this feeling has heightened. I barely know what day it is half the time. I do my best to stay involved in the conversations of the world around me, but there are moments where I feel truly alone, even with arguably the best partner I could ask for. There are simply facets of pregnancy and postpartum that are just yours to soldier through mentally. On your own. And it can be tough.
2) The gravity of knowing that I am responsible for another human being forever is just. Woah. I really don't want to fuck this up. I can't express how relieved I am to have waited until my late thirties to have my first child. I'm so much less dumb than I was 10 years ago. But still. I hope the good Lord puts a fence between any of my neurosis and my child's well-being, so I don't mess her up with any of my own baggage.
3) There is a part of me that, even though I consciously chose to become a parent, is resentful of what I'll be giving up as far as my freedom is concerned. I am a person who has relished a life of flexibility. Being able to quit jobs. Pick up and move. Hop from city to city to follow my dreams. Get up and go at the drop of a hat. I'm not saying those days are over, but. They probably are, for the most part. I can't just "do me". Everything now is an "us". My love for my new family, however, trumps the possibility of that resentment sticking around for too long. It's more of a fleeting thought when everyone is Snapping the Yeezy fashion show and I'm at home pumping my boobs so I can sleep an extra two hours that day.
4) Being fiercely independent and emotionally void is not an option anymore. I need help. I came to terms with this while pregnant. A Type A woman who cannot physically tie her own fucking shoes--what a nightmare. And now, I'm constantly seeking help for all things newborn. Asking for advice. Googling. Texting friends with babies (these ladies are saving my sanity daily) . Calling my midwives. Emailing my doula. Allowing people to do my dishes. Accepting gifts. It's a new world and It's hard, because something inside of me was always so determined to do it all myself. I didn't want to show vulnerability. I was Superwoman. The time has come where I cannot uphold this farce, and it's humbling, to say the least.
5) My body is not what it was prior. I gained 62 pounds and have lost 30. I'm okay with how I look and feel--after all, anything is better than a human head on your bladder for months on end--but I think I'm mostly filing my body-image anxiety away because I know that now is not the time. Eventually, after more weeks pass and I still don't fit into my pre-prego jeans, I can't promise I'm not going to melt down. Also, I had a natural childbirth, so my nether-regions are not at all how I left them. At three weeks and a couple of days postpartum, things down there are looking up, luckily. But no one talks about the pain or what a woman's vag looks, feels and smells like (yup, I went there) after an entire human comes out of it. At least not publicly. It's all a part of what we have to keep private and figure out ourselves so no one feels uncomfortable about reality. After all, there are many folks who would love to pretend like women's bodies snapback immediately and our vaginas aren't gaping, bloody holes for weeks after giving birth. Cool story bro. I sure do love fiction.
6) I got away with minimal sleep for the first couple of weeks. I was off those hormones and pure adrenaline. By week three, I started getting weird. I'm convinced it was mainly due to sleep deprivation finally catching up to me. I was over-emotional and felt depressed for the first time since giving birth. It was kind of scary, honestly. I snapped out of it quickly, but for about 12 hours, I felt myself sinking into mental quicksand and wondering (to my horror) if that feeling would become my new normal. I truly hope I can keep this vortex of desperation at bay.
7) I don't do as well emotionally when my partner isn't around. Not only does he help me greatly with the baby, I also am not able to go into those zones of my psyche that conjure up fear when he's present. He has a calming energy and always puts me at ease. I do love spending precious moments with my baby alone, but I like it more when he's in the next room versus when he's not home. This is something I will have to get over, but I'm not there yet. I need him. His help. His support. And whenever he can, he delivers. We have our moments like any couple does, but overall I am so grateful to have him has my partner. He's the only person I have ever considered having children with and it's for the reasons I just listed and many more.
8) Tons of anxiety around leaving the house with the baby. Whether on foot in a carrier, in the stroller or in a car seat, I'm always stressed out. Mainly, I just hate when she cries. Some of the cries I can deal with, but there's those couple of cries that hit these pitches that send me into a frenzy. It's biological. As her mom, I am wired to feel uncomfortable when she's that upset. But it's simply the worst feeling ever to have your kid screaming. Particularly while strapped into a car seat or somewhere in public where someone always has an opinion on what your baby must need.
9) I'm going on four weeks of maternity leave, which have just flown right on by. Eventually, I'll be back at work. I know I'll be ready to return to that world by then, but the stress I feel about leaving my child is ever-present. I'm not so concerned with who I'll be leaving her with, as it will likely be either dad or someone we've chosen that we trust. It's just that, well, I'm her mom. I want her with me. I don't want her to forget I'm her mom. Maybe that's ego talking, but parts of me don't want to share her with anyone for so many hours a day. What can I say. I'm a possessive Cancer of the zodiac.
10) I'm breastfeeding exclusively and my goal is to do so for at least six months, but ideally, for an entire year. Wrapping my head around how to do this logistically will be an interesting adventure that will require me lugging a pump around in my bag everywhere in the five boroughs and whipping out my machine wherever I can find an outlet. Part of me looks forward to this. Making others uncomfortable with reality is my new fave hobby.
So, there it is. The official top 10. My baby screamed through most of this, as I held her in one arm and typed with the free hand. Now that I'm done, she's peacefully sleeping of course. Maybe I'll try to sneak in a quick bath.