The first few months of motherhood are a huge adjustment by any standard. No matter how much you think you know, nothing can possibly prepare you for it. Suddenly, you aren’t able to do anything that is just the most basic thing, from going to the bathroom to sitting down and nursing a cup of coffee, much less reading a book or surfing the net. You’re holding it in, the coffee grows cold, and baby will bawl before you can even turn the page on your novel. All past lamentations about not having enough time seem laughable.
At the beginning, all I could think about was trying to get Butterball to nap, just so I could go back to the life I enjoyed before her arrival. I just kept thinking about the stuff that I was missing out on. Catching a movie, sleeping late at night and sleeping in the next day, dining out, sleeping, watching my favorite TV programs, sleeping. A recent cold snap (or polar vortex, they call it) means I’m stuck indoors for days with Butterball.
While in what I can only describe as my survival mode, my best friend *Zee texts me one day, filled with anxiety and frustration. With her husband posted out of the country, Zee moved across the ocean with hubby and kids, far from home for a couple of years. Being away from friends and family was difficult. Plus, she quit her job for the move, so the myriad changes in her life were understandably, pretty overwhelming. One year in, however, she is now anxious and depressed at the prospect of going home. She prefers the lifestyle where she is (in the suburbs of an affluent and massive country) compared to home (crowded and congested city living). She couldn’t decide what she wanted and she was stressed out of her mind about it. I think I’m a bit mental, she texts. After some back and forth, it became clear to me where the problem lay. Zee needed to stop worrying about what’s to come and what came before. She needs just to enjoy where she is now instead of wasting time on worry and nervous energy. So I tell her, New motto Zee. Cherish every moment (smiley face).
I had an epiphany. I realized what I just told Zee also applies to me. I need to let go of before, not worry about later, and embrace the here and now. So that day, I took in a deep breath and told myself, Cherish the moment. I’ve been doing that every day since (trust me when I say it’s an ongoing process and that it requires effort). And It works most days – some days are just gonna be lost causes no matter what, and that’s okay – because even when Butterball is being particularly trying, I know it’s temporary and that one day, I’m gonna miss my baby. I really do enjoy my days a lot more now and am not freaking out about time passing me by.
Also, I think, perhaps, Butterball and I hadn’t really connected before. It was about 3 to 4 months in, when suddenly Butterball was smiling at me in recognition, as if to say, Hey you! I’ve been wondering where you were. We’ve got stuff to do. She’s listening with me to my favorite songs and we sway to the music, until she shuts her eyes and I put her down for her morning nap. In the afternoons, we are musing over the cool drawings by Eric Carle in ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ (a favorite of mine as a child) along with other books, and coming up with fresh baby talk while rocking in her chair or walking around our little apartment. We bathe in the evening, and then Mumbles takes over to give Butterball her feed before bedtime. That’s when I rest. (Build that rest time in at some point in the day because it’s what will keep you sane and give you balance. A rested mom is a happy mom, and it only follows that happy mom begets happy Butterball and Mumbles.)
Every mom I know, including my own, will tell you that the first month is the hardest. So true. The next couple of months are hard too. But go forth knowing things will get good. Baby will grow and change, and you will adjust and somehow carve out a rhythm that works.
Love every bit of it – even those parts that make you want to return baby to the hospital! – because it’s not going to last. So breathe, and cherish!