Given the blurriness of this time, there is little I can even remember that I learned so I will sum it up. 1. I’ve never been so tired. I have thought I was tired before. I wasn’t. I didn’t know what tired was. My husband agreed. I heard him telling friends – I’ve worked 72 hour shifts, but that was nothing. This is a new level of tired. Before the baby had come, I remember thinking that feeding the baby every 2-3 hours would be exhausting, but I’d sleep in the shifts in between. I figured I could still get 6 or 8 hours of sleep, it would just take 12 hours to achieve that. You know – feed her, change her, get her back to bed and then I’d sleep for an hour and a half or two hours while she slept and we’d do it again. Exhausting, but doable. Ha! If I managed to get 4 hours sleep in 24, it was a very good day. Getting anywhere close to that was only vaguely possible because of the enormous amounts of help that we had.
2. I’ve never cried so much over so many stupid things. It was out of control. There were things to cry about every day. I don’t know what they are. I’m not sure I knew what they were at the time. Some of them involved milk supply. Some of them involved laundry. Some of them involved cabin fever. Some of them involved being COMPLETELY and UTTERLY unsure of myself. Those were the biggest. I was not prepared. Because it is utterly impossible to be prepared. You can do everything possible to prepare yourself and you won’t be prepared. It’s unlike anything else. Those first two weeks I knew I wasn’t good enough at it. I knew I was screwing up. I questioned my sanity in choosing to have children – what was I thinking? What did I know? I wasn’t ready. We weren’t ready. I cried because I wasn’t sure I was fit to be a mother. Because I wasn’t sure I loved her in the “right” way. Why wasn’t I feeling this overwhelming sense of bliss at her existence? Why did she scare me? Why couldn’t I figure out what she needed and just automatically provide it? When everyone else arrived and said she was the most adorable baby ever, why did I notice that scrunched up bit on her nose and wonder if they were just saying that to me? Shouldn't I think she was the most adorable baby ever?!?! EVERY MOTHER thinks their baby is the most adorable thing ever to scream the face of the earth. What THE HELL was wrong with me? That was clearly a sign that I was beyond screwed up! I mean, she was captivating, but the truth was she didn’t look the way I expected her to. I thought she’d look like a miniature version of my husband – I thought she’d be blonde!
3. This one was hugely important – our Moms don’t remember a thing from our births. Really. It’s all locked away in this 30+ years ago cabinet of wonder where they look back and said – oh, you were so adorable and I just stared at you in wonder the first few weeks. Sure they were exhausting, but it was such a wonderful magical time. I remember talking to my Mom when I was pregnant about a friend of mine who complained about her kids ALL the time. I said to my Mom that I knew the first few weeks would be amazingly rough and just suck the life out of me (yes, I knew this and yet I did it anyway!), but once we got beyond the hump I hoped I wouldn’t complain all the time. My Mom pushed back on my description – no, no. Those weeks are very tiring, but they are wonderful and it’s all so amazing. Uh-huh… Even my Mom seemed surprised by how much the baby seemed to need me in the first few weeks. Now, she’s a newborn – of course she NEEDS. The distinction here was she needed ME all the time. Yup, we were formula babies. You could pass us off to whomever. But not my little one! Of course, at this point, I wasn’t at all sure that down the line she wouldn’t be a formula baby! Well, actually that very shortly she might be. Our Moms asked us about water bottles – shouldn’t you give the baby some water – maybe mixed with some honey? (Honey was, of course, the one food I KNEW I couldn’t give the baby as infants can’t digest it!)
We finally lucked out and talked to some friends who had recently been in our boat. It was actually the husband there who managed to boil it down on – our Moms don’t remember anything about this! As my husband explained the complete and utter lack of sleep and nursing all night, his friend said, you could be telling me our story. We went through the same thing – here’s what you need to know. The basic gist of ‘here’s what you need to know’ was – it takes a couple of weeks for your milk to fully come in and while you wait, the baby is trying to feed all the time because you’re not producing much. You have to struggle through those couple of weeks and then the milk comes in and it DOES get better. Now I know it turned out that we were lucky in how much better it got how quickly, but the hope he gave us was probably the biggest savior there. Happily, once she was getting more milk, it turned out that our munchkin was really a sleeper. She even slept for 6 HOURS in a row the night before her 2 week doctor’s appointment. Unfortunately, we got up every hour to check on her and didn’t get to appreciate that (and it didn’t happen again for a little while after – though the regular stretches were definitely getting longer all the time!).
In the end, we somehow all made it through. All three of us. Together. A family.