In fact that may be an understatement, it was more than rough. It was exhausting, overwhelming, challenging... the list could go on and on. And at my worst I found myself sobbing on the phone with my mother pouring out my stress and tears. And then I realized she was laughing at me. When I asked in shock "Why are you laughing?" she said "You just told me while crying, that you are so happy!" It was my turning point. There I was, tired to the bone and facing and uber busy weekend packed with plans and work. I didn't know how I was going to get through it all, and felt I was failing as a Mom. I didn't get enough time with Reagan, I wasn't pumping enough milk, I was frazzled and annoyed with my husband and it was all coming crashing down on me. I had just canceled on a Christmas party that I really wanted to attend because the thought alone of trying to get through a couple more hours was bringing tears to my eyes, in fact I did cry when I called my friend to explain my last minute cancellation! It wasn't that I didn't want to go, I had been looking forward to it. But I. Could. Not. Do. It. But describing all that was going wrong, how horrible my day had been, how impossible it was for me to do one more thing that day.... I was still so happy. So very, very tired, but still happy.
|What I thought Motherhood would be...|
When friends and family had told me about motherhood and all the changes that happen to your life, body and definition of normal I believed them. I knew what they were saying was true and accurate but a little part me still thought "Well, that is true for them. But it will be different for me". I was sure it wouldn't be as hard or overwhelming for me, I totally have it together so my experience as a new mommy was going to be wonderful and though I expected challenges and hard times I wasn't really listening to what they were saying. I was going to do better than them, do more than them, I was going to do it all and then some.
I WAS WRONG.
One of the hardest things for me is parenting alone alot of the time. When you are married to a police officer who works the evening shift (2pm-11pm thurs-mon) you do a lot of the work alone. This is a daunting task: bottles, laundry, cooking, cleaning, and of course spending time actually with the baby AFTER you have worked a full day is nothing short of impossible. Not to mention I am also nursing which requires at least one feeding during the night. So I am trying to do it all on broken sleep. Every day. Chet is doing a good job with Reagan and he helps when he can, he is just not doing it nearly as much as I am. Even on the two afternoons a week he has her, the bottles are already waiting for him and he still gets to sleep in, shower and then mosey his way to the sitter's house. Not to be a man-hater but the experience as a new Mom is something the Dad's won't really ever understand. I set a new record for myself last week, I went 3 days without a shower because the energy to wash, dry and straighten my hair was just not there. I slept in my clothes the other night too, it had been a long day!
|But sometimes its more like this.|
Let me share an example. On Friday night after my breakdown, Reagan went to bed early and I thought "thank goodness" and called it a night at 9 pm. She woke up 4 times before 6am that night and I was up with her every time to nurse or get her back to sleep. On Saturday night, after a 30 minute scream session (we think she has begun teething) she finally went down and slept for 8 glorious hours! The next morning my husband asked why I was so tired because I got to sleep till 8:45 am.. HAHA, silly man. What house does he live in? He really has no idea what goes on during the night when he is snoring away, never to be disturbed. Though Reagan did sleep through the night that night my body is so used to nursing that I had to get up and pump at 3:45 am because I was so uncomfortable, and then I feed her when she woke at 5:45 am, got her back to sleep for a couple more hours before finally waking with her again at 8:45 am. Over all not, a bad night but I was still up several times. Not to mention the insane snoring coming from his side of the bed also woke me at least once that night before I put in an ear plug and turned up the baby monitor. Sorry guys, but sometimes you live in la la land. I can't really blame him, he is either working or sleeping when I am doing most of the parenting. So of course he thinks this is easy, and he can't seem to grasp why I am so tired. He gets 8 or more hours of uninterrupted sleep each night, and even when Reagan has great nights I still wake up!
There are other fundamental differences here as well. Even if I could take an opportunity to "take the day/night off" I wouldn't want to! I love being with her and even if my evening is a bit of a whirlwind trying to do it all with her I wouldn't want it any other way. I miss her deeply while I work so I treasure that time with her on the weekends and during the evenings. It is hard to get everything done (or at least try to get everything done) but I don't want to give up one more second of my time with her. I can't even bear to send her to the nursery during Church because I don't want to be away from her. I spend much more time with Reagan than Chet does but he still chooses to sleep in rather go pick her up. It doesn't bother him to be away from her most of the week and I hate it. He doesn't worry, and I worry for us both. He simply accepts that this is the way it goes and I cry dropping her off at the sitter just thinking about starting another work week without her. It's a fundamental difference between the connection a mother has with her child and the role of the father. I don't feel he loves her any less but he definitely doesn't face the demands of being a mother and it feels different to him. Breast feeding alone is hard, and it takes a lot out of you. I pump at work 4x a day, which also means I lug my pump and supplies with me each day and clean them each night, organize the frozen bags and prepare bottles for the next day.
|But mostly its like this.|
I could go on and on about the stuff that just plain wears you out. But I don't need to, most of you know exactly what I am talking about. On Saturday Reagan was having an extra bad spit up day (yea, I know I need to give up all the milk products but that includes ice cream and I JUST bought my favorite kind....) She had worn her cute Christmas dress for approximately 4 seconds before spitting up all over it and when I couldn't take the sour milk smell anymore I finally gave it and changed her. Just as I got her into another fresh out fit and sat her in her Aunt's lap she proceeded to throw up all over them both. I just sigh. It's just another change of clothes, just another load of laundry, just another average day.
But despite days that make you wonder how you are going to get through the next 24 hours only to repeat the pattern, this truly is the happiest days of my life. I wasn't lying to my mom, despite the tears that suggested otherwise, my daughter has enriched my life in ways only a parent understands because there are no words to describe the joy she brings me. Even when I am making my third trip to the nursery during the night and I want to be annoyed with her, that sweet smiling face that greets me erases anything but I the love I feel for her. Even when she leaks out of yet another diaper in a shade of lime green that I didn't know poop could come in, I have to laugh. I am the first person to admit my temperament takes a real nose dive on little sleep and I am no fun to be around when I am grumpy. Those that know me best will testify, that when I am tired it really effects me. So some days are super hard on me. I am learning that I do have some pretty amazing friends here to help me and at least say "Been there, don't worry it gets better". Even though I bailed on my friend at the last minute, she was so gracious and completely understood! The reality is I have an awesome baby sitter that I trust and I know Reagan is in good hands when she is there. I have a Mama who talks it through with me when I need to vent and then calls to make sure the next day is better. I have a husband who works hard to support his family, and even though he isn't home a lot he loves me. Even on my hardest days, I am living the good life. I have people who are willing to help or listen or just love me!
And God hasn't left me either. Like I mentioned, Friday was a hard day. But my two greatest worries have been pumping enough milk and trying to get enough sleep. Saturday and Sunday Reagan slept through the night and I was able to pump two extra bottles. The Lord knew I was struggling, and even when things were hard he helped me, showed me who was there to support me, and he was there while I struggled. It did get better. Do I still have bags under my eyes, yep. But Christmas vacation is just around the corner and I am headed home! Even the police officer gets to come too! My bad day passed, and that light at the end of the tunnel is a string of Christmas lights.