Friday, March 21, 2014

Happy BabyMama

We passed the 12 week mark a couple weeks back.  The fog is starting to lift.  I am able to think clearly again, even about things other than the baby.  My body has adjusted to the sleep deprivation such that waking up 2-3x/night feels totally normal (and, sadly, like an improvement).  I don't even remember what sleeping all night long feels like (actually, I do, and it was awesome, but I'll pretend).  Life is much busier, I have a to-do list I can't start and sometimes I want to have adult beverages during the daytime, but, this time around, I have to say that I actually feel....happy.

If I sound surprised by that, it might be because I am.  With my first son, 12 weeks hardly felt like a milestone.  The day passed and I was still a sleep-deprived, perhaps somewhat depressed, definitely somewhat overwhelmed first-time mom.  He cried.  A lot.  He hardly slept.  He nursed constantly.  I felt mentally and physically kaput.  And I was pissed that the books promised that everything would get easier after we passed the magical 12 week mark.  My baby didn't miraculously stop being colicky, he didn't suddenly seem adjusted to post-womb life, and I didn't feel much better.  I wondered if I was supposed to be enjoying it more.  I wondered if I was strong enough to be a mom.  It felt like a neverending cycle, a spinning wheel I couldn't get off, and sometimes I wanted to.  But then I felt greatly disappointed in myself and guilty for having such thoughts, so I didn't say much about it (aside from passive-aggressively taking it out on myself, my husband, my family - oops).  It did pass eventually, probably around month 5, but I still wondered what it was....was it the fussy baby (or was he normal?  how are you supposed to know what normal is with your first?)...was it hormones, was it sleep deprivation, was it simply the life adjustment (or shall we say, upheaval) that comes with having a kid?  I couldn't pin it down.  But now, after having another experience to compare it to, I'm convinced.

It was (mostly) the baby's fault.

Ok, ok, yes not sleeping while your hormones are tanking and while you are trying to figure out how to be a mom all take a toll on your mood.  But dealing with all of that while also taking care of a colicky newborn takes your emotional well-being to a different place.  I remember reading that the "unlucky" parents of colicky children often experience depression, marital difficulties, etc - what??  A crying baby can ruin your entire goddamn life?  How could that be?  But if you get one, especially if you don't know you have one because you're a first-time parent who has been told she should "enjoy every moment", you start to lose your mind. 

Now with my second son, I'm having a completely different experience.  This sweet little creature has given me an overwhelming feeling happiness from the day he was born.  And it hasn't wavered, not when I have been up all night, not when both of the kids (and I) got sick, not when I was pumping and dumping in the middle of a wedding while my husband hand-fed me pizza (true story).  He cries, of course,  but not for long periods.  He is consolable and happy.  And, therefore, so am I.  People are quick to point out that I'm probably also a lot less stressed this time, and of course that is true.  But I am even more sleep deprived than the first time, a lot more busy taking care of 2 on my own the last few months, and have half the maternity leave, and yet I feel a sense of peace that I did not feel the first time at this same point...I think so much of it is due to the endless smiles of my Nevin and the constant hilarity of my Noah (that colicky little first-born turned out to be the funniest, smartest and sweetest toddler).  Your children - for better or for worse - can so poignantly affect your emotions in a way no one else can.    

So if you think you have a fussy or colicky baby, you probably do.  Go easy on yourself, and know that it will pass.  Don't feel guilty when you feel low.  Vent to a friend who has gone through it when it gets really bad (thanks AK!), because others won't get it.  When others comment on their "easy babies", just keep in mind that your baby may become a perfect toddler (which, btw, is better!) and your next kid will feel like a breeze.  You are not "unlucky" (ahem, Mr. Weisbluth)....every baby is a blessing.  And no matter what your baby is like, it is impossible to "enjoy every moment" as a parent....the true goal is to feel joy through it all.