It’s been 5.5 years since I’ve done the new mom thing. Some things are coming slowly back to me, and some feel/are new.
New Babies Are So Tiny (and Floppy): R was 6lbs 2oz at birth, and we’re currently working towards 8lbs. Words like peanut, nugget, itty bitty, etc. all spring to mind when I think to describe her. She’s very strong and squiggly, though. The number of times she has made my heart stop by tossing her head around or trying to launch out of my arms is already countless. “Support the head” is my constant refrain.
New Mom Brain (Where Did It Go, and Will I Get It Back?): It’s “funny” how things that would normally be cause for great alarm are just par for the course when you’re the parent of a new infant.
Memory loss: I have had so many conversations that I simply do not remember. We’re not talking conversations where I remember when I’m reminded. We’re talking conversations where my husband recounts it to me, and I have no memory that it ever happened.
Difficulty distinguishing dreams from reality: I’ll think about a conversation or event, and I cannot remember if I dreamed it or if it really happened. (#1 – At least dreaming is a sign that I’m getting more sleep. For a while I wasn’t even dreaming.) (#2 – Okay, not all the time. I’m pretty sure that the time I had to line up in line as a soldier and choose my weapon, one option of which was a block of wax, didn’t really happen.)
Feeling like I’m lucky if I can attend to even 50% of a conversation: Part of my new mom brain is always somewhere else – trying to listen if the baby is stirring, figuring out the last time she ate, have a complete thought while simultaneously listening to a story from the 5.5 yo, be a functional human while half my brain is asleep, etc. (I’ve heard that river dolphins only sleep with half of their brains at time. They should do a study on new moms, I think we may also do this.)
Having Trouble Accepting Help: I’m fortunate, in that I’ve had several people genuinely say, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.” I know I need help, but coming up with something that they can do AND actually bringing myself to make the request – is frequently beyond me. At least this time, when we are offered specific help, we don’t turn it down or feel bad for accepting!
Wondering If I’m Going to Get My Body Back/ Learning About My “New” Body: Bleeding, bladder, belly, boobs. Enough said.
Returning to the Silly Patter, Stream-of-Consciousness: I was already in silly mode with my older one (which animals do we think have the biggest poop. Whose poop is the stinkiest. Now I’m realizing how largely, poop related the humor is. Well, that and knock-knock jokes.) Now, as I’m trying to hear noise besides the screaming of an impatient infant, I’m making up songs where I narrate making a bottle or changing a diaper and trying to find rhymes for words like “sha-boopy.”
Having 2 Kids Is a Whole New Ballgame: As a new mom who is an only child, the sibling thing has always been a bit of a mystery to me. Now, I’m struggling to gracefully balance time and attention with a preschooler and a newborn, and I’m trying to help my older one navigate feelings of responsibility, love, alienation, and insecurity that I’ve never felt before. It’s one thing to know, intellectually, that this was coming, but it’s a whole ‘nother thing to experience it.
As Much As I’d Prepared, I Can’t Get Everything Right (But Preparation Can Help): With my first, I was only able to breastfeed for 3 weeks. Five years later, I could still be brought to tears by the topic. This time, I started conversations with healthcare providers months before I was due. I talked to my health insurance company about coverage for breast pumps and lactation consultants. When my supply again failed to manifest, I saw an amazing lactation team, I pumped, I took herbal supplements, I felt like I was losing my mind, I got amazing help and support from friends and family, and again, I decided that the best decision for myself and my family was to stop trying. Again, it’s the most painful part of this process, and I know I will always second-guess myself and my choice; however, this time I feel more like I took the time to make the best decision I could, rather than giving up in a haze of confusion and despair.
A new mom has so many conflicting urges/ emotions:
- I want to stay inside in a cocoon, snuggled with my adorable new baby.
- I want to experience my previous autonomy where I do not have to be 100% attuned to the needs of this tiny new life.
- I want to take her out into the world everywhere.
- I want to protect her from people and illnesses of this germy winter season.
- I want to buy her all the new, cool things that have come out for babies since I last had one.
- I remember how little was actually necessary with the first one.
- I want to see her grow now, so I can hear her voice and see her walk.
- I want her to stay tiny forever.
- I want to cherish and devote every spare minute I have to being the best mother I can be.
- I want to figure out who “I” am apart from my identity as a mother and get started on making that happen – right now.
- Feeling utterly alone.
- Feeling a part of a large, caring, supportive community.
- Feeling like, I’ve been here and done that already.
- Feeling like this is a whole new experience, and I’m lost.
Is the Big Bad PPD Coming? I suffered from mild postpartum depression after my first. Other than some major drama with the breastfeeding, I feel a little saner this time around; however, PPD can come on months after childbirth. I’ll be wondering for a long time if I’ve really made it past the danger zone. PPD is serious stuff. If you think you might be experiencing PPD, get help. It’s not only for you but for your family, too.
Does this sound familiar to anyone? I’d love to hear that I’m not the only one experiencing some of these things! Are there things that you’re experiencing that I left out? Please share!