I know I’ve only been a mom for two months, but in many ways, it feels like a lifetime.
I never really understood what people meant when they said “I can’t imagine life without the baby.” Like, you spent X amount of years without him or her – how do you not remember what that was like? So while I do have moments of longing for our pre-baby life, and the freedom to do what we want when we want, I think for the most part I understand that now. It’s amazing how fast your life can change, and how capable you actually are to change with it. You adapt, because you have to.
I am by no means a baby expert, but after two months – and settling in to this new life, this new reality – and a rocky beginning that had me wondering if I’d ever get used to it, much less enjoy it, I have a few thoughts for that early-March version of me:
Your postpartum depression/anxiety will get better. Thanks to your support system and the world’s most wonderful OBGYN, you will manage your symptoms quickly, and you will begin to enjoy being a mom. You’ll slowly gain confidence in yourself and understand that you can do this. You’ll find a rhythm. You will never stop worrying about that tiny person, but the worrying will become more manageable and less consuming. The fog will lift. This new life will seem less and less scary each day, and actually become pretty great.
You won’t be trapped in the house forever. Although it wasn’t long ago that the thought of dressing yourself and a baby and getting out of the house with him and his many necessities seemed impossible, it will happen, sooner than you think. In just a couple weeks, packing everything up and heading out with the stroller and diaper bag to run errands or take a walk will seem second nature. And it will keep you sane.
He will stop screaming constantly. It will take a few tries and lots of banging your heads against the wall, but you’ll find a formula that works for his sensitive stomach, and everything will fall into place from there. He’ll stop crying for what feels like no reason, sleep better, and poop as often as they tell you he should. And not only will he gain weight, he’ll catapult into the 90th percentile by his two-month checkup.
Breastfeeding wasn’t in the cards for you, and that’s okay. You tried to breastfeed, but it didn’t work out. Honestly, it was brave to make the decision to stop, because it was the best thing you could do for both yourself and for Clayton at the time. The two of you had the odds stacked against you from the beginning, with his protein and soy sensitivities, his jaundice and weight loss, his tongue tie, and your PPD, all of that coming after the labor and delivery from hell. Breastfeeding wasn’t giving him what he needed, and formula has done that. It has also allowed Kevin and other family members the chance to be involved in his feedings. So even though you still appreciate the many benefits of breastfeeding, and respect the hell out of the moms who stick with it through those long, hard nights, feeding your baby formula doesn’t make you a bad mom. And hey, you can always try again next time. If you decide you want to.
You’ll sleep again. Soon. The baby that screamed all night, every night, and regularly brought you to tears will start to sleep. Promise! By five weeks he’ll be sleeping 5 and 6 hour stretches, and as you write this, he’s coming off a 10-hour night and is currently napping like a champ in his crib! You and Kevin will find a sleeping arrangement that works great for everyone and allows you to split the responsibilities evenly, even if it means sleeping in separate beds for now.
Talking to other people in your situation is invaluable. It’s true, the idea of attending a support group made you want to vomit at first. Sharing feelings in a blog is one thing, but sharing them with strangers in person is another, and it is definitely not easy for you. But once you go, you’ll love it, and you’ll make mom friends who are going through the same things you are. You’ll even hang out with them outside of group. You should be proud of yourself for going, and sticking with it.
Maternity leave will fly by. You still have 4 weeks left, but it’s flying. It seems like once you find your rhythm with something, there’s a change, and that will be the case with this as well. But you’ll figure it out, and it will be nice to get back to a routine and have adult conversations! Appreciate the time at home, because it doesn’t last forever!
Your life is forever changed, but it’s great. It’ll seem like it happened overnight, but you’ll go from mourning your old life to appreciating and even loving your new one. You don’t have to give up everything you used to do and everything you used to be – there will be plenty of time for date nights, working out, TV shows, and even that glass of wine. It’s just a matter of finding out who this new version of you is, and what life looks like now, but you’ll figure it out sooner than you think. And trust me, you’re going to love it.