Am I allowed to say I don’t miss the first couple months of being a new mom?
When I look back at the earliest pictures from the days we had just brought Gia home, I have a mixture of emotions. I feel nostalgic – I look at how tiny and sweet she was and I am painfully reminded how quickly time passes. I feel like I can hardly remember the first months of her life – I guess sleep deprivation will do that to you. I do remember the sheer exhaustion and fear and overwhelming nature of being a first time mom. Being scared of absolutely everything: is she sleeping too much? Not sleeping enough? Getting enough to eat? Is she going to randomly stop breathing? What if she starts crying? Each toy/piece of equipment is a potential death trap. Each visit to a mother’s internet forum informs you that you are invariably doing something that will scar your child for life.
People tell you your life will change forever as soon as you become a parent, and I would think to myself, well, duh. But there is no possible way to comprehend, to wrap your mind around the magnitude of change that is about to happen, until it happens to you. I don’t do well with change. Those first few months (and lets be honest, every day after that too) were an incredible exercise in unpredictability, change, and your life being turned completely upside down.
I can’t honestly say I look back on those first couple months and miss them. They were hard and scary and at the time, quite unrewarding.
I remember learning about “baby blues” and post-partum depression. I remember reading some statistic suggesting you more likely than not will experience some form of baby blues after delivery. I remember asking my husband if he thought I would get the baby blues and he said no. I said I didn’t think I would either. Fast forward to several days after delivery: I was sitting on the couch, holding Gia and watching The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, when tears started streaming down my face. I looked at the women on the show, all of whom had children, who were living their lives just as I had months earlier (well, minus the extravagant wealth and fame, but you know what I mean, with freedom) and wondered to myself if my life would ever be like that again.
A woman I know had a talk with her doctor after a tough post-partum period, and discussed the possibility of anti-depressants should she have another baby. Her doctor asked her, “do you think it was post-partum depression, or do you think it was adjusting to all the changes in your life?” I don’t know the answer for her, but I know for me, the mourning of losing the life I once knew and being thrown into a brand new, scary life far outweighed my hormones.
Maybe you are one of the women who sailed through her post-partum period with ease and joy and grace. Maybe you read my reaction and are horrified I am using the word “mourning” in talking about my life post-baby. I was not one of those women. I may have seemed like it on the outside, because what is the socially acceptable response to “Oh my God, how much do you LOVE being a mom?? Isn’t it the best thing that has ever happened to you??” besides for “Yes, I love it, it is amazing!” I told a few acquaintances that yes, it was wonderful, but also really hard and overwhelming. They looked at me uncomfortably, like I had just violated some secret “Mom Code” that we should all be nothing but thrilled with everything that comes with the post-partum period.
To the moms out there who felt like I did, I have a message for you: You are not alone, you are not crazy, or a bad mom, and it gets better. So much better. Every day that passes, I begin to feel more like myself. I have fallen madly in love with my baby girl. There are rewards now – like the sweet sweet sounds of baby giggles and when your sweet pea can actually hug and kiss you and say “mama”.
My life is not the same. I recognize for this period of my life, I have said a reluctant “see you in 18 years” to TRUE freedom, spontaneity, alone time. Because really, those things are gone now.
These things have been replaced with a much less selfish Ashley, an acceptance that a lot about being a mom is out of my control, a new incredible appreciation for my husband, and an intense, primal love for my little girl.
Am I allowed to quote C.S. Lewis by saying “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind”?