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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

maybe we forget

From the book The Second Nine Months by Vicki Glembocki, she writes about a friend of her's who left her one-week-old baby for a week to go be with her mother who was diagnosed with cancer. All of this woman's friends were worried that she had postpartum depression and that she wasn't bonding with her child. The author had just come out on the other side of experiencing six months of not bonding well to her own child, and now she found herself judging her friend and wondering how she possibly could not want to be with her newborn for an entire week.

Talking about her own child, the author writes, "But now, with her squealing, with her more at ease than she's ever been, I've forgotten. That fast. I've forgotten that just six short months ago I could not envision that I would ever be where I am right now, with a whole night of sleep ahead of me, in a bedroom without a receiving blanket or a Pack n' Play or a single ounce of spit-up in it, in a bed with a husband I didn't want to kill. I've forgotten how scared I was, how ambivalent I was, how stressed I was. I've forgotten so entirely that when I find out my friend left her baby, I'm not understanding. I'm shocked. I assume something must be wrong with her since she clearly hadn't bonded enough with her week-old child, as if it hadn't taken me months and months to bond with mine. And I wonder if maybe that is why no one ever told me that becoming a mom was so hard. Maybe their babies had gotten older and cuter and funnier. Maybe their babies had started to smile. And squeal when they saw them. And they'd all gotten used to each other. Maybe they'd forgotten." (page 181)

I loved this passage. I think it's probably right on. We do forget. I honestly cannot recall much from the first month of my son's life. It was every two hours of pumping, feeding, diaper changes, sleeping, catching up on Facebook or email when he napped in my arms, eating whatever people had brought to us and being so incredibly grateful we did not have to cook for ourselves, taking pictures if we thought of it, and just trying so hard to survive those sleepless nights. It's honestly a blur. An incredible blur. And yet I think it's supposed to be that way.

It was the best and the worst of times in our little family and in our little home. My husband loved the time together, as he was out of work at the same time, so we really got to bond as a family of three right away, which I will be forever grateful for. We got ourselves into a routine where I was up most of the night due to pumping, after Jared did the diaper changes and gave the baby to me. Then in the morning he'd get up at 5 or 6 with Owen and let me sleep in until 8 or 9, an incredible gift after being up every hour to two hours at night pumping. Then we'd hang out on the couch, with nothing much we could do with a newborn in the middle of February in Maine. We'd watch movies, see friends and family, eat delicious casseroles and soups and other treats people so graciously delivered to us on a rotating basis. We'd take pictures, talk about how much our life had changed in the past six days, nine days, three weeks. It was amazing.

Then at night we'd be different people entirely! I laugh out loud thinking about this, because it was so crazy. During the day my husband and I were more in love than ever, feeling so grateful for what the other had brought into our lives, and loving so much that we created this little being that consumed our hearts now. Yet at night, when we just wanted some sleep and quiet and no responsibilities, and of course we wanted the option to say, "No, it's your turn. You do it." It was tough. It was really tough. I won't sugarcoat that. For months after Owen was born I joked to close friends and my sister-in-law that Jared and I divorced from midnight to six a.m. every night due to the arguments and frustrations we both shared with having to do the 2 a.m. and 3 and 4 a.m. diaper changes, pee sprayed on the newly painted walls, finding new onesies when there weren't any since the baby peed on them all the day before and we hadn't gotten the laundry done again, and the noise of my pump and needing to make enough milk so the baby wouldn't scream from starvation.... and.... It was tough.

As I write this, I'm so tempted to tell you, "But you get through it. You do. I swear!" And I do mean those things, we did get through it, and we are still married (of course we are!). You will be, too. Still, I won't placate this situation and smooth it over (after having read that book, The Second Nine Months, I'm all about being honest with new moms because I feel it's the right thing to do and what I wish someone had done for me before I became one myself.). It is challenging, that part you may not know already. I'm sure you already know that it's of course worth very sleepless second and rewarding in ways you cannot even begin to imagine now, so I won't tell you that. I'll just say it's super hard (and you will get through it!).

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