Oh my friends, keeping up with this has already proved challenging. I’ve been working on a few posts, but for now, I’ll post this one, which I wrote a little over a month ago. I wish it was more specific, but apparently at the time, everything was running together as well. The first month of motherhood was amazing, full of wonder, etc….but it was also really fucking hard. People would see him sleeping in the sling and ask: How old? I would say a month, and they would say, oh that time is all a blur and I would think ‘how could anyone forget this?’ But you want to know what? Here we are at nine weeks and I can’t completely remember the first month. I mean, I do- but like they said: It’s a blur. The doubts, the fears, the intensity, the exhaustion…the realization that as Bill Murray said in Lost in Translation: “Your life as you know it, is gone.”
I have a nearly one-month old son who is now asleep in a sling resting against my chest.
This past month has been so strange and wonderful and bewildering. I want to say all the things that have already been said before. Of course it is one thing to hear about the exhaustion and another thing to lift your baby out of their swaddle in a dark lonely sleep stupor and bring them to your breast…hoping against all hope that your arms won’t collapse on you.
You think about the things you thought you knew. Your expectations. The way things would be.
I knew something would happen to me when I looked at his face, something I wouldn’t be able to understand until I saw it. Every day it happens to me again and again. I look at his little face, his bright eyes, his wide but tiny nose, his faint brows and I fall into oblivion. I tell him I love him over and over again and I kiss every little piece of skin I can find. The love tears me right open anew every time I see him.
I didn’t know that while staring into his perfect face, that I would think about my mom, and Dan’s mom, and every mom, staring at us grown people when we were just helpless little infants. Trying to make us happy. Loving us to bits and itty bitty pieces.
I knew it would be hard but I didn’t understand the way my heart would crawl up my throat when he cries this guttural cry that shakes his whole body and turns his face devil red. I didn’t know that I would bounce for hours on our exercise ball until my arms and back ached and sing and whisper, offer the boob for the 10 hundredth time, then crawl into bed and cry my own soul shaking sob when Dan finally gets home to relieve me.
I didn’t know I would question everything: Am I talking to him enough? Touching him enough? Feeding him enough? Am I enough?
I didn’t realize that it would be a little bit lonely – to be up for many hours all night feeding and then alone for much of the day trying make sure his every need is met. That ‘doing something for myself’ would mean taking a shower – and ‘doing something for Dan’ would mean emptying the dishwasher or switching laundry from the washer to the dryer.
I didn’t ever possibly think I’d be a mom who would share a bed with her baby and sleep in a separate room from her husband. No, no, never would I do that. But this somehow happened- to let my husband sleep through the night before work. To keep baby happy in his precious sleeping hours. And truthfully – for the most part it works. I miss sleeping with Dan. I miss the way he would roll over in the morning and snuggle me and I could smell his perfect Dan smell. But I admit that I love these sleepy moments with James – listening to him breathe, his peaceful face, his little groans and sighs.
And here’s the funny thing about all of it – even as I wish for the moment we can plop him in the crib and have him sleep for 12 blissful hours. Even as I wish for the demands of breastfeeding to let up, just a little. Or for him to age out of the ‘witching hour’ where he cries and cries. I actually don’t want any of it to end. I am so acutely aware of how short this time is – where he is completely dependent on us – where he will snuggle his soft head right under my chin and doze, where he only wants to be with us, near us, around us. “Don’t grow up baby,” I’ll whisper to him. “Stay this way forever.”
But of course that is one thing I knew all along: babies don’t stay babies forever. They will grow…and so too will we.