When Micah was first born and brought home, I was overjoyed. Overjoyed and just about as overwhelmed as a person could be. I was exhausted, scared, and in over my head… but all anyone ever asked about what the overjoyed part.
“Is it everything you thought it would be?” Everything and more. Much more.
“Have you ever been happier?” No, I haven’t. I’ve also never been able to fall asleep standing up before.
“Is he just perfect?” Yes, yes he is. When he’s not screaming his head off, pooping through his diaper, spitting up all over me and refusing to eat…. Perfect.
I felt like because I’d waited so long, prayed for this child, longed for him, I wasn’t allowed to ever say, “This is really hard.”
That zipped-lippedness resulted in me, sitting on the nursery floor in the middle of the night, crying my eyes out all alone and feeling like just about the worst mommy in history.
I have always appreciated hearing moms really tell it like it is. There’s something very vulnerable and beautiful about the honesty of motherhood. So, in that spirit, here are a few of my confessions about what I’m experiencing in this new phase of life as a mommy to two.
1) My house is a mess, and I’m a mess right along with it. Asher was born at the beginning of December, right smack dab in the middle of the busiest season of life for us. Jay was extraordinarily busy, not only organizing a huge fundraising season, but also trying to keep up with all of the stuff that I normally take care of at the office and church. I was on bed rest as I struggled to heal from my c-section so I could do little more than take care of the baby and keep us all fed. We were lucky if we could keep the dishes done and our underwear clean! Several weeks of this, and we got ourselves in a hole that was difficult to get out of! Add to that the fact that we had 3 Christmas trees and various other holiday decorations to take down and put away, plus all the Christmess that comes with gifts and wrapping paper, packing and unpacking to visit family, and all that jazz, and this house is a mess! And though I care (probably way too much), I just don’t have the time or energy to do much about it. I’m lucky if I manage to leave the house with make-up on and no milk stains on my shirt.
I am slowly digging my way out (with help from my husband, who has been awesome through it all) but it is slow coming. I dream of a day when I will be able to clean my bathtub, not have the recycling overflowing, shave both legs on the same day. Ah, the little things. In the meantime, please don’t come visit me without some advanced notice. A lot of notice.
2) When it comes to the baby, I’m terrible at multi-tasking. I had little man at the office with me today for ten hours. I got roughly 45 minutes worth of work done. It takes me a week to do what I used to be able to do in a day. And obviously, I get very little done at home (see above). I’ve yet to figure out how to do the little things like shower and get ready for the day when I have this needy little creature demanding my attention. And I’ve seriously eaten the last 65 meals with one hand, while holding Asher with the other (usually as he nurses), and I’ve brushed an embarrassing amount of crumbs off my precious newborn’s head. My focus is most definitely monopolized, and thus… number 3
3) I feel guilty pretty much all the time. I simply can’t give what I’m used to giving. There’s only so much of me to go around right now. Micah, my sweet and crazy 8 year old, seems to know the exact right words to punch me in the gut. Now, I know enough to know that he manipulates the situation most the time in order to get his way, but it still leaves me feeling riddled with guilt that he can’t always be my center of attention. I also feel guilty that I’m not as available to people as I used to be. It’s like I’m strapped to a 9 pound ball and chain (albeit a cute little wiggly one).
And don’t think the cute, innocent baby can’t make you feel guilty too. If I feel like he’s had too long of a day at the office, or that my attention has been too split that day, or his diaper was too wet, or he had to just cry for a few minutes so that I could take a shower… guilt, guilt, guilt.
4) Leaving the house terrifies me. The first few weeks of Asher’s life, he and I were home alone most days. We got into a good routine. Sleeping, changing, nursing. We were good. Then, when he was just three weeks old, we decided to go to Kentucky for our family Christmas party. We weren’t ready. Not at all. We drove 600 miles, stayed two days, and turned around and came back. I was like Punxsutawney Phil on Groundhog’s Day. I came out, saw my shadow, and headed back in for six more weeks of winter. Even going to church or to the office for the first time caused me some pretty great anxiety. I wasn’t like this when Micah was a baby. I would pack him and go, no problem. Sometimes we’d head out to the mall just to stroll around (and so I could show him off!), but it’s been different for Asher. For one big reason.
5) Breastfeeding is hard. Since we’ve had Micah since birth, we’ve experienced most of the baby stuff already, with the exception of breastfeeding. This art, which I assumed would be the most natural thing ever, has not gone the way I anticipated. I thought I’d push out my beautiful baby, he’d be put on my chest, find his way to my breast, and we’d be beautifully connected and live happily ever after.
Yeah, so that’s not how it went. First of all, after an emergency c-section, and an over-crowded, understaffed hospital that was working through a snow storm, I didn’t even get to hold my sweet boy until he was almost two hours old. I spent the first day of his life very sick, and in fact, threw up five times during my first meeting with the lactation consultant – she was great about it and kept right on going like nothing happened. Due to our initial set-back, a weak suck, and latching issues, Asher lost about 13% of his birth weight in the first couple of days. After trying several things, the doc convinced us to start supplementing with formula when Ash was three weeks old, which has done nothing great for my milk supply and made Asher a little lazy and easily frustrated.
All this to say, it’s been hard, but we have kept going. I decide to give up about three times every day, but inevitably, there will be one magical moment that makes me want to keep going another day. I’m praying for about 4 ½ more months of daily magical moments.
6) Sometimes I feel really old. I was doing all this newborn stuff with Micah when I was 25/26. I’m nearly 35 now. And you know what? I’m tired! I feel that almost-decade every day. My back hurts. My feet hurt. And I need a nap!
7) And I kind of miss the normal me. My recovery from the C-section was hard. I had to be on bed rest and home health, and take it way easier than I wanted to. My energy level took a while to return, and may still not be all the way back… but that’s probably because I’m so old. And while I’ve always been a crybaby, my hormones are still a little wacky. And I’d really like to get rid of this post-partum hypertension.
As for the six inch vertical scar on my stomach? I’ll keep that. It reminds me of one of the best days of my life… though it’s ruined bikini season for me forever ;)
8) I miss being pregnant. Is that weird? I love that I finally have my sweet baby here, but in some ways, I miss having him all to myself. I miss feeling him kick and move inside me. And, I know it’s crazy, but I miss that big pregnant belly (better than the doughy mess I’ve been left with!). Dressing it and resting my hand on it… well, that’s the most fun I’ve ever had being fat!
I think this will be my one experience with pregnancy, and the fact that it’s already over makes me a little sad.
9) I miss my husband. Don’t get me wrong, Jay and I are a good team, and we love being parents, but we’d finally gotten to a stage with Micah where we could go on dates alone or watch a movie together while he’s off doing his own thing. Micah is pretty independent and self-sufficient so if Jay and I wanted to occasionally lounge in bed on a Saturday morning, we could do it. And now we are starting back at square one, falling in bed next to each other at night, totally exhausted and smelling like spit-up. I love being a mommy so much, but sometimes, I just want to be his girlfriend.
I will say though that there is little that is more attractive than my big guy playing legos with Micah or swaying back and forth trying to put Asher to sleep. If I have to be gross and tired, there’s no one I’d rather do it with.
10) I wish the time away. I find myself saying, “well, when is Asher is old enough to fill-in-the-blank, I’ll be able to fill-in-the-other-blank.” I am always looking for the next milestone, but just today, it hit me that Asher’s wrinkly newborn skin is filling out, and already, his cry is different. My newborn is a baby. So I’m trying to just stop, breathe, and enjoy the moment, because I’m learning, watching my 8 year old who, just yesterday, was my little baby boy, it all goes by too fast.
Ah, confession really is good for the soul.
And these guys are totally worth it all.