Here I am. 18 months into this journey of parenting and I have to say it has been as hard as it has been rewarding. I’ve felt anxiety, joy, loneliness, exhaustion and love all in the span of a day.
No one is ever really READY to become a parent. You just decide it’s time to jump off that high dive and hope everything turns out alright because you have no idea what you’re getting into. When we got married I didn’t even want children. Sweet Tristan was understanding of that and I said I was open to my mind changing about it. We agreed we wouldn’t talk about kids for the first 5 years of our marriage and he never once brought it up even though I knew he’d always wanted to be a dad. Long story short, I obviously changed my mind and here we are with our sweet and feisty and passionate Esmé Ramona.
There are some things that I’ve learned that no one told me would happen and at times I really wished someone had. So here they are, in no particular order.
1. Truth-telling here, it is not all happy and joyful. When you’re in the trenches of all nighters and colic, you feel guilty for thinking, “what have I done?” Of course you love your baby. It’s possible to love your baby and also not like motherhood. Does that make sense? I felt like I was crazy (probably just exhausted). I love her so much and I love being her mom but sometimes I feel like I am not cut out for this. This is normal. Just this week I was feeling all of this all over again as we are in the “shrieking” phase. I packed her up and headed to my sister’s house because I just didn’t want to be alone. After you hear that all day for a few days straight you start to think you’re going to lose it. We both definitely cried a lot and to top it off our neighbor came knocking to check and see if I realized that Esmé’s screaming was loud. What? Um, yes. I’m very aware…I haven’t worn my hearing aids for a few days because it’s so loud. Bye.
2. It can be lonely. You’re awake when no one else is. Some friends will drop off the radar. Friends that have kids already will be hard to make plans with because of scheduling…yours and theirs. I remember feeling disappointed because some friends just weren’t around anymore and others I thought would be able to kind of help me through the early stages were just unavailable. I’m not angry or upset with these people, it just is what it is. It’s no one’s fault but I definitely felt isolated and distant. Which leads me into the next thing.
3. Postpartum anxiety is a thing. I definitely had this and still do. My mind would get stuck in these thought patterns replaying routines over and over. “Ok, she ate so she’ll need to eat again in 2 hours. She just got changed so she should take a nap now. How many minutes did she nurse on each side? Which side did I end with so I know to start on the opposite side at the next feeding. She’s sleeping longer than 2 hours. Do I wake her up to eat or do I let her sleep and then pump because…OUCH.” This, all day and into the night while also having fear that I’m doing it ALL wrong. I know for me that I am anxious if I am super irritable…and I was sooo irritable. I would mostly keep it to myself but I would startle so easily and I was so on edge. When I finally went to my doctor they said, “Oh this is VERY common.” Ok, so if it is VERY common then why the h3ll don’t you tell women about this when they are still pregnant so they at least know they might feel this way? I would start to talk about it to people and almost always someone would say,”me too.” and I would think, “why would you not tell me?” I get it that having a baby is supposed to be a happy time but if this is such a frequently happening thing for moms we’ve got to talk about it. I have practiced deep breathing and prayer and yoga and I also take medicine…and all of that is good. I found myself feeling lonely and also cancelling plans. I have had a hard time. So when you ask me when I’m having another kid and my response is to change the subject or say I don’t know, it’s because I have no desire to do it all again. That is also OK.
4. It is so fun watching their personality form. I had no idea this would be so cool. From about 12 weeks Esmé was so engaging and outgoing we knew she was an extrovert right away. I would take her on walks to the grocery store and she would,”oh and ahhhh” at everything and everyone. I’d lay her on her play mat and she would chat to all the little things hanging above her. She also had and still has amazing eyebrow control, haha. So expressive from the get go. She even protests when Tristan and I hug or kiss. It’s hilarious. She is such a cuddler herself. If she is playing every few minutes she’ll come over to me and put her hand on me or say, “HUG.” and reach for me. Those are moments that I cherish. Now that she’s talking it’s even more fun because toddler voices are adorable and usually there is a lisp. She is learning so much and saying new words every day. Like, NO…and ah-buh-go (avocado)…and ah-yubb-you (I love you) unprompted.
I am a parent. I like it. I liked my life before I was a parent. I can’t imagine not having Esmé. She is a true gift and looks at the world in awe. She makes me slow down and appreciate things.
My motivation in sharing is for others to feel less alone…to know that there are others that share the same feelings. I know lots of people just bringing babies home or are still in the newborn stage. There is so much change just in the first year with hormones and sleep deprivation and growth and learning about your new human and also about yourself. It really is a rollercoaster. Be kind to yourself, mama’s…and dad’s too.