Friday, February 4, 2011

Reality bites

Here's Andrew at four weeks. I cannot believe my little guy is a month old already. Sometimes it seems like it's been a very short time since we came home from the hospital, but other times it seems like it's been a very long and difficult four weeks.
There were times in the past four weeks that I felt like I was losing my mind, when I had thoughts that I would not dare give a real voice to by writing them here. Suffice it to say that I have grieved both for the carefree, easy life we left behind. And, I have grieved the loss of the fantasy I had in my mind of what life with baby would really be like.
Because I spent so many years longing and aching to be a mother, I had created a whole picture in my mind of what kind of mother I would be and what my life would be like. It was all warm and fuzzy and I had endless amounts of patience and my wee little one was a perfect baby.
Reality bites.
The reality is -- I'm not as patient as I want to be but I'm working on it. My baby is perfect, but not in the way I'd fantasized and my warm and fuzzy life I'd anticipated has included a lot of frustration, tears and even anger along with all those warm and fuzzy moments. Reality is that the cloth diapers I planned to use leak and disposables are so much easier. Reality is breast might be best but not for every one. The reality is nighttime feedings suck (no pun intended). The reality is showering is now a luxury. The reality is motherhood is mind bendingly difficult and completely foreign from anything I've ever known. The reality is I still sometimes wonder if life will ever feel "normal" again.
Finally, I feel like I'm turning a corner. Since we began to feed Andrew formula, life has become much easier. I am getting more rest. Andrew doesn't cry nearly as often and sleeps more sound. Instead of 12 or more feedings in a day, we're down to about 6 or 8. That makes a huge difference. I can finally see a bit of his personality beginning to emerge. After all those weeks of watching him dissolve into ear piercing screams hour after hour and not wanting to believe it was because he was simply hungry, I continued to try to breastfeed and wore myself down to a nub. And, in the process, I sort of started to wonder if this little red and purple faced screaming being would always be so cranky and irritable.
In the first days after we brought Andrew home, I would stare at him and cry -- overwhelmed by the miracle that he actually existed and was there in my arms. Last week, after feeding and then pumping for 48 hours straight, I looked at him and cried because I felt like I was failing him, because I didn't know how to make him happy and because it was just so damn hard.
Even now, I feel like I'm guessing at this mother thing much of the time. My mom told me that's normal -- it is a guessing game, she said, and it's a lot of trial and error.
I feel like I've made so many errors already. Thankfully, Andrew seems to be a very forgiving little soul. Every morning, I begin again -- determined to do it better than I did yesterday and excited to see what surprises the day might hold. Earlier this week, Andrew laughed out loud in his sleep. It was the most beautiful sound in the world.
I can imagine if I had read a post like this in the midst of our infertility struggle, I would have been angry at the writer. Just be thankful you have a screaming baby, you ungrateful hussy! And, who knows, some of you who read this might feel that way too. But, I think it's important for me to be honest in my writing and this is the reality. I guess no matter how long you waited to meet your baby or how desperately you wanted to be a mother, the reality is that motherhood is difficult and I think that is a truth that is universal -- whether your baby was conceived through an unplanned pregnancy or a modern day medical miracle.


  1. I have spent a lot of time with new mothers recently, and I think your story is true with everyone. It helps me to appreciate the here and now. Motherhood sounds tough and not so glamorous, but I thank you for your honesty. :) Happy to hear you are rounding the bend..

  2. It is so easy to beat yourself up over your perceived failures. It is also easy to feel guilty for even thinking that everything isn't 100% perfect since you have a baby now.

    Life is never easy and it's never perfect. Despite having come through hell to get your darling little one, he's going to cry, poo, projectile vomit and make you feel helpless and frustrated. It's okay.

    I don't judge you in the least for admitting that things are hard. You are dealing with a completely new situation, hormones are still going crazy and everything can be so scary and weird and downright bad sometimes.

    You are still going to do the best you can for your baby and your sanity. If you need to bottle feed, then that is the right thing for YOU, and screw anyone that judges you for any of your choices or coping methods.

    And go easy on yourself too. Forgive yourself if things aren't going exactly by the book; adaptation when one method isn't working is not failure - that is the exact opposite of failing.