Motherhood: The first three months (A long-lost post!)
Before you read this, I need to set it up for you. I started writing this particular blog post almost a whole year ago! I never finished it and therefore never posted it to the blog. Last night, however, I was perusing my archives and realized I had not one but about a half-dozen, half-written blog posts from my early days of motherhood. I had it in mind to regularly update readers about my encounters as a new mom but somewhere along the way, I lost interest in the idea and abruptly stopped. After uncovering these long-lost posts, however, I was surprised at how relevant and interesting I still found the topics. And it was nice to go back in time and hear the me of a year ago talk about new motherhood. I know I turned to mom blogs and the internet in general for answers and guidance when I was first starting out as a mama, so if these posts help even just one of you, I think they’re worth sharing…even if they’re a year old! So, without further ado, here’s my take on the first three moths of motherhood:
(originally written July 29, 2014)
Lately, I feel like all I do is apologize on this blog for my continuous absence. It’s weird. It’s presumptuous. I think you’re out there. I hope you’re out there. I hope you’re wanting me to keep this blog going. I want me to keep this blog going. This mom thing has me whipped. I have no idea how all those fancy mom bloggers do it. I hardly have time to stop for a bathroom break and eat lunch, let alone come up with new ways to turn sprinkle donuts into party favors.
We’ve all heard it (because its true), but babies are a full-time job…and beyond. Now that Cielo is four months old and a little more “mature”, I’m feeling a bit like a butterfly emerging from her cocoon. Life is a little easier and I’m starting to gain my bearings as a mom– spreading my wings, so to speak.
I’m realizing that I can do this. NO. I am doing this.
The First Month
As a first-time parent, there is no book, no video, no class, no words of advice that can fully prepare you for what to expect. It is a full-on war zone. This baby has you captive and she will torture you until your breaking point. Sleep? gone. Food? Only what you can grab with one hand and shove in your mouth asap. Showers? Nope. Me time? Laughable. Sex? Never say that word again.
The sleep deprivation was unimaginable. Breastfeeding was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Like, EVER!…and I gave birth to a baby! Sure she was beyond adorable, and she smelled amazing, and made the sweetest little newborn grunts, and never in my life have I known the rush of love that would fill my entire being until meeting her. But, in that first month, I found motherhood so difficult that I wasn’t sure I was cut out for it. I can’t tell you how many times the words, “what have we done?”crossed my mind. I loved my baby. There’s no doubt about it. But I was filled with so much anxiety…and at times, regret. And yes, I hate myself now for even thinking that but at the time, that was my truth. I wasn’t (I’m not) a graceful mother. I didn’t take naturally to the role. I was miserable at times. After two weeks, Evan went back to work…and I resented him for it. Why did he get to live his “normal” life? Why did he get to continue on with his career? Why was I the one playing Suzy Homemaker? I had a career too. I also wanted to live my normal life. Adorable as she was, Cielo was a “hold me” baby. The second you put her down, she’d cry. And not just any ol’ baby cry, like a bloody murder cry! So I held her. And held her…and held her. For the first month she literally lived on my person. I wore her everywhere (including the bathroom!). To her credit, she slept a lot during these days and we were able to eat out and grab the occasional drink at the bar which helped me feel a little balanced. The first month was
definitely a learning curve– the highs are high and the lows are low, but once you achieve that first month, you start to realize that you’re all going to be okay.
The Second Month
Month two, while still pretty difficult, got significantly easier. We started a routine with our days and nights (mostly for me, although I have to assume that Cielo got something out of knowing what may be coming next as well). I went back to working out regularly and joined Stroller Strides, a boot camp for moms and babies. It was exactly what I needed to ease my way back into exercising. It also gave me the opportunity to meet other new moms (some of which I’ve remained friends with to this day). Breastfeeding still had its challenges but Cielo and I got good enough that we were able to stop supplementing and I started breastfeeding exclusively. An achievement that I will always be proud of. Her sleep patterns continued to be short-lived and sporadic but I caught on quick to the need to sleep while baby slept. Interrupted sleep is sleep nonetheless. And every little bit helped. Cielo began “giving back”. She’d smile from ear to ear when she’d see me first thing in the morning, which made my heart explode each and every time. She began cooing and making more deliberate sounding noises. She’d make eye contact with me when I spoke to her. These little gestures helped me feel so much more connected with her. She was still a blob more or less, but I could tell that she liked me which made me feel like I was doing something right. And in those early days, all you really want is some reassurance that you’re doing the right thing, that your baby is happy and that you’re not a big failure!
The Third Month
As we approached that 12 week mark, we found ourselves making some bold moves! We took 3-month-old Cielo to Hawaii and LA to meet family and friends for the first time. The best parenting advice we ever took was to travel in the first 6 months of Cielo’s life. Babies at this age tend to sleep a ton and are happiest being cuddled in the arms of mom or dad anyway, so why not do it at 34,000 feet?! Our first flight was a whopping 17 hours (with 2 layovers!) and little Cielo slept for all but maybe three of them. Granted, I nursed her practically the entire time, but it was all worth it. We were even congratulated at the end of, not one but two, of our flights for having the best behaved baby on the plane. A story I will undoubtedly tell Cielo ad nauseam. At three months, Cielo’s personality was definitely showing through. We felt like we finally knew her as a person (if that makes any sense) and we liked her. We really, really liked her. She wasn’t just cute and sweet and all of those obvious baby things– she was funny and so aware, and she seemed so wise. Cielo was also very physically adept. She rolled around in every direction and held her head up with ease. We even put her in a swing at about 13 weeks and she instantly held on to the chain and swung like a pro! I was (and still am) constantly blown away by her development. If there is any part of motherhood/parenthood that never seizes to amaze me, it’s the gift of watching life develop before your eyes. I almost can’t put it into words. It is truly amazing to see (and feel) a human grow.