Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Long Days of New Mommydom

Recently, I have been starkly reminded of my last days of pregnancy and my first days of motherhood. Close to a year later and I still have not forgotten some of those more tortuously poignant moments as most people, including close friends and my mother, told me I would.

This is my open letter (of sorts) to new mamas who are understandably struggling with the entire process. 

Dear New Mommy,

Some of you will enjoy every moment of your new status as a mother, and I feel so happy for you. In fact, I'm a little jealous. This letter, isn't really to you.

This letter is to the new mommy who struggles in some way that she never dreamed she would, be it external or internal. Your struggle, while it is normal, is still difficult and frustrating, and yours to be recognized and dealt with-- no matter how large or small.

For the first months of my daughter's life, I struggled with both internal and external forces that made my life difficult. I made it through those moments just fine, but not without many days/nights of both my daughter and I crying while we were home together.

I struggled with: breastfeeding, with leaving my daughter with other people (even with letting other people hold her!), with not being able to be by myself anymore, with some nights of seemingly incessant crying (and she didn't have colic), with my relationship with my parents, with my marriage, with not working, with being my daughter's primary caretaker, with my husband not having to be at home all of/ most of the time, household finances, with health decisions for myself and my daughter... it wasn't pretty.

When my little girl was three months old I spent the night away from her for the first time. That just opened up a whole new can of worms. At the time, I thought the night had gone relatively well, only to find out a few weeks later it just reminded my husband that the baby was now "always there"-- meaning, it wasn't just us anymore (like it had been for five years of marriage and six years of dating). That's a fun little part of what he and I still work on as we attempt to figure out what a third little human means in our relationship with each other.

Now, I've been away from her a few times. Only once was without her dad, and I didn't like it much because I didn't feel like it was time well spent. (It was for a family member's bachelorette party with her friends, so it was a different brand of fun with a different brand of friends, and it was a great reminder that I need to remember to clarify my priorities to myself if I don't want to spend unnecessary time away from my baby.) 

Our My constant refrain for spending time away from the baby is "time management". I do my best not to feel guilty, and as it has gotten easier over time to spend a little more time away, I am realizing it makes me happier to be a mama when I get back. 

I am also prepping for my return to work in August. It's slightly nerve-wracking because I've never had to make three schedules (me, husband, child) work in concert with one another. I guess everybody loves a challenge.

The husband and I are in constant contact over how we can have the best-possible chance at surviving this kid-thing as happily and successfully as possible. We both have our less-than-stellar moments, but we know that the best way to give our kid the best-possible chance at happiness is to model happiness. So, it gives us less reasons to pick fights and be critical of each other. (Being that I am historically the one to pick a fight and be critical that has made at least one of our lives much easier.)

So, to all you new moms that might be hating life for the moment: after nearly a year of this bullshit I think I'm getting the hang of some of it. And, it's gotten a little better, but it's always going to be different than it was.

I wish you lots of uninterrupted sleep and happy babies.


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