My sweet baby girl is now 6 months old. It’s taken me this long to find a moment to sit down and get back to writing.
For those of you who follow but aren’t on FB or personal friends, my baby girl was born on April 10th, but had some serious complications. She ended up in the NICU for 10 days because she was deprived of oxygen at birth.
That story is for another day.
Today, however, I can say that there’s no sign of the extremely traumatic birth she had. She is hitting every milestone, laughing at us, grabbing at the dogs, jumping away in her jumperoo, and crapping her pants, just like every other baby her age. Life seems fairly easy for her, besides teething and learning.
How has it been for me, you ask?
HARD. Really hard.
Not like labor. Labor is hard in the “OHMYGODMYVAGINAISGOINGTOFALLOFF” kind of way. And yes, I studied the Bradley Method, did breathing exercises, and did prenatal yoga even in the first stages of labor. When the baby’s shoulder gets stuck on your pelvic bone for 8 hours, there is nothing in this world to describe the agony.
But motherhood itself is more of the long-haul agony. Yes, I called it agony. The kind where you realized it’s been six days since you’ve taken a shower, you’re not sure the last time you’ve eaten in the last 12 hours, your baby refuses to sleep when she’s exhausted, and she’s acting like she is trying her damndest to rip that nip right off of your boob.
Cruel and unusual punishment is what it should be called.
Oh, and you look and feel like garbage. It may be a vain agony, but it is agonizing to avoid the mirror just so you don’t have to hate yourself even more than normal that day.
Seriously. That’s me, with a mere year difference. Add the puff from lack of nutrients or sleep, the baggy under-eyes, and the obviously cynical and frustrated haze over my right side on the “new” me picture, you understand why motherhood hasn’t done me any favors in the looks department.
Lest you fear for the welfare of my child, rest assured: I love her with every inch of my being. She is everything. I give her every single last bit of myself, and frequently pull from reserves I didn’t even know I had, and I’ll never stop doing so. She is perfection, and every dream made complete.
I just don’t think I realized the extent to which I’d have no life after she was born.
This is of my own making, I believe. I could go out and do much more. I could just put her in a wrap and go about whatever business I would’ve been doing had she not been around. In fact, I see moms doing this very thing, making motherhood look effortless. Making it seem as though they never had a sleepless night, never went without food or a shower, and certainly never missed their Pilates class.
(Any guesses how long that “only-gained-seven-pounds” thing lasted? And how much I’ve gained since she was born? Please don’t be honest.)
But every day, I think I’m making strides to figure shit out. It’s really hard not to want to OVER protect my kid after seeing her hooked up to every frickin’ wire/plug known to man, hearing monitors freak out every time I touched her tiny body, and watching her body seize. Not many parents are told within the first fifteen minutes of their child being born by their doctor that the outcome of her survival was unsure, and that they’d have to watch day by day. I’m astounded by her growth, but couldn’t live with myself if something I did or didn’t do contributed to her being hurt or worse.
Cloth vs disposable. Breast vs formula. Cry-It-Out versus co-sleeping. CDC vs Dr. Sears. Purees vs baby-led weaning. There are so many decisions that the “experts” tell you will make or break your child. I knew before she was born that I would have a preference, but I never knew that those things would affect me SO deeply!
Ladies, do ‘ya hear what I’m sayin’? I know there are the glamorous types who have babies that just “naturally” sleep through the night from the day they’re born, who take three three-hour naps a day, and who can be put down in their crib and just fall asleep without any assistance. That is simply NOT my kid. My kid would flip her shizzle if I left her in her crib alone. My kid sleeps for 30 minutes every 2 hours, and must nurse in order to fall asleep. My kid cries for seemingly no reason, and there is rarely rhyme or reason to how she’s comforted.
But frankly, she put the work in for the first ten days of her life. She fought with every cell in her body, working with our fantastic doctors, to show the world the fighter she is. She was deprived of her first snuggles, nursing, and bonding, and her doctors watched in shock and awe at her recovery.
She wasn’t supposed to recover like this. But she did. And now, I feel like I owe her everything I have, because simply, she gave me the same, and lived.
I don’t even know that there’s a proper summation to this particular blog post, given that I’m feeling extra “fancy” today because I actually got to bathe, I had a thrice-interrupted six hours of sleep last night, and I’m currently drinking actual water and eating tuna and crackers instead of the usual liquid variety that my dinner has taken on of late. (Sam Adams’ Oktoberfest did it for me last night… And some form of seasonal ale has done it for me for the last week or so.) But what I can say is that I love my kid, whether she decides to wake me up every forty-five minutes tonight or not. Stinker.