Monday, August 1, 2011

Having a baby is hard work ya'll

Fact: Sometimes I like to say the word ya'll. I think it's because I lived in Louisiana for a year, and they say ya'll in every sentence. I find myself compelled to use it from time to time (mostly in print) and then I'm embarrassed because they don't say ya'll over here in Southern California.

Moving on.

Can I tell you a secret? Even though I so desperately want to be pregnant again, I'm terrified of having another child. Don't get me wrong, I want this more than anything, but in the those few moments every month when there is a possibility I am actually pregnant, I usually wake up at 3am in a slight panic. I wonder how I'll handle it all again.

Lets rewind. When I was happily pregnant with Carter, friends and family would constantly tell me that my life was going to drastically change when I had a child. And I knew this. They also said it would be HARD. And I knew this. My brother was born when I was 12, and I baby sat him all of the time, changed diapers, fed him, clothed him and so on. I knew the baby basics, and I knew it was going to be hard. But I don't think you can comprehend HOW hard it is going to be, until you actually go through it.

I really was not prepared for how hard it ended up being.
Granted, taking care of a newborn isn't that difficult in small doses, but when you combine that with pure utter sleep-deprivation just walking to the bathroom is too difficult a task. My body went into shock.

After those first few sleepless nights, reality sunk in; I was never going to sleep again. I felt like I was going through Chinese water torture (where they drop a small drop of water on your forehead, in small doses it's totally manageable, but over and over and over again it is tortuous). That is what it felt like to never be allowed to get into that deep sleep your body is so yearning for. I'd doze off into happy dream land, and just as my body is finally feeling some rest, SCREAM, baby awake. I felt like I was a walking zombie. I couldn't see straight. My eyes burned all of the time, and I had a constant headache.

Right after Carter was born, I yearned to be pregnant again. I really did. I was jealous of all of my friends who were still pregnant, and I thought I was already ready for baby #2. Wrong. Fast forward to two weeks later, and I was SURE I was never going to have another child again because I couldn't handle doing this all over again. Even Andy said that we weren't doing this again for at least 5 years because that is how much sleep we would need to make-up for this. And then I was jealous of all my childless friends who got to sleep peacefully every night. I felt like a crazy person warning pregnant friends how hard it was going to be and annoying the crap out of them. But those same friends told me afterward that it was really, really hard for them, and they went on to warn their own pregnant friends too. Haha.

Was I a bad mom? No. I wouldn't have changed anything for the world. I love my son so much and he brings joy to my life on a daily basis. But man, oh man, is it hard. And it's OK to to admit that. It doesn't mean you're a failure. And any mom that says it's easy is a liar.

When I left the hospital the nurse made me sign my discharge paperwork which went over an acknowledgement that I would more than likely go through a period of the "baby blues" within two weeks of the birth. Okay, sure, I signed and left. I don't think they should call it the baby blues, rather, sleep deprivation blues. I was completely and utterly exhausted so I was unhappy. It only lasted a few weeks, but I definitely was not depressed. When you combine the massive amounts of hormones exiting your body with sleeplessness, you can't really prevent the unhappiness. It's a huge adjustment to go through. The life as you know is taken away in one big swoop. You no longer exist for any other reason but to take care of your child. This tiny fragile life was ours, and we were responsible for it. Andy and I would joke daily that we were participating in "operation keep baby alive."

Carter's 1st Thanksgiving at 8 weeks old.

It's still one of those things that I think everyone needs to learn for themselves. My annoying "it's going to be REALLY hard" advice has stopped. People hear it all the time. I found it obnoxious when I was pregnant and people would tell me "get ready, you'll never shower again!" I would respond, "don't babies sleep? I'll shower when he sleeps." Ha, I was wrong. My baby did sleep, but only when strategically placed in my arms in a certain position for only a short period of time.. And I learned I wasn't alone in feeling this way. I thought I'd watch a lot of TV on maternity leave, but I didn't end up watching TV for months, really.

I know when my other friends and family members have children - I'm going to stop trying to give any sort of advice and  instead I'm just going to show up, dinner in hand, and start doing their dishes and laundry. I think that is the best gift you can possibly give - that and taking the baby for a few hours to let the new mom nap. I salivated at the thought of a few uninterrupted hours of sleep during that time.

Right now, we're fine. Yes I'm chasing after an almost two year-old on most days, and trying to teach my son right from wrong, that rocks aren't food, to get his finger out of his nose, not to touch his poo while I'm changing him, not to hit complete strangers, cry in public, refuse to eat, not to draw on the walls, or on himself, not to poor juice on my computer, or the couch, or unroll the toliet paper, or throw things in the toilet, or destroy the house, run out into the street, oh and you know, the ABC's and valuable life lessons. I can handle all of that, you know why? Because I am sleeping at night. Yes, sleep is the magical factor in the equation that makes all the difference.

But I am so ready for the challenge again. It's okay to be secretly terrified of doing this all over again. It's okay to admit it's hard and that I'm scared. I would jump at the chance to do it all over again. I'm really ready for it, so Lord? You can stop waiting now! Okaypleasethanks.
If it wasn't so hard, it wouldn't be so rewarding. And it's possible the next one will actually sleep, right? Right? RIGHT?!


Anonymous said...

Heh. Gavin was the same way about sleep. He would only sleep under very specific conditions. I was OK with that - I realized that if I'd been in a nice, warm, cozy place, and then suddenly *here*, I'd want to snuggle a familiar person all the time too! :D

I'm so scared to do this a second time. Gavin is almost 9, he's so independent and my life has been my own for over 5 years now (when they turn 4, it's a huge turnaround - you "get your life back").

So I'm going through a huge tumult of want versus "no thanks" right now. *gulp*

Thanks for writing exactly what I was thinking, cuz.

Niki said...

Haha awwww this so cute!! I finally got the chance to read it and was literally laughing out loud! It is soooo true!!