One of the tough things about being a mama to a six week old is the isolation. It’s pretty much me and the little booger alone during the day. H is off at work for 14 hours sometimes and I don’t have any new mama friends who are at home right now. Though I’m an introverted person I do crave connection. After a particularly bad day when the baby wouldn’t stop crying (she’d gotten her immunizations, poor babe) I had a melt down. It was more like an emotional tsunami…
The very next day with a slightly calmer heart, I went to a new moms group. I had found the group the week before and although I hate being new at things and I also get really uncomfortable interacting with groups of people my desperation pushed me through the door. The first week I sat back and listened getting the lay of the land. There were a lot of really friendly mamas there who I’d like to get to know. But I struggled to figure out how to make that first connection or take the first step.
Well it turns out the secret is crying, hah. I was so on edge from my emotional melt down the night before that when it came to my turn to talk during the group I lost it. I started crying when I talked about the isolation and the difficulties of navigating the relationship with your partner when your family becomes three. I was tempted to feel embarrassed, but I so desperately needed to talk honestly and have someone hear me that I kept going. I was amazed at the response. All I got from this room full of women that I didn’t know was compassion and understanding, nodding heads and sympathetic eyes. Many validated how I was feeling and had suggestions for finding more connection and support during the day.
By letting my guard down I let these women see the real me and opened myself up for genuine connection. In the past I would’ve made it seem like I had it all together and that I’m doing great, staying on the surface. I’d be disappointed after those interactions because people wouldn’t often remember me or even notice me. Now though, when I run into these moms in the neighborhood or at a mom and baby class, they say hi, they know my name. I let them see some of my struggle so they stepped up and said I see you and I’m here too. It’s a promising start and I’m learning, finally, how to make friends.
Today seems like a good day for us all to be a little bit nicer, and send a little more love out into the world. This adorable video of a little boy in love should help get you smiling.
Tired Mama and Baby (c) Open Hearted
The little booger turned one month old on Saturday. It’s been two steps forward and one step back since day one. We’re locked in a constant back and forth that I sometimes find comfort in, and sometimes find maddening. Take two nights ago. She slept for five solid hours. That is the longest chunk of uninterrupted sleep I’ve had since she was born (by two hours!). Then last night she woke up at 2 am tummy hurting and slept on and off until 10 am. Either me or H was awake the whole time comforting her as she whimpered in between sleep and wakefulness.
I know that it will get better and it will get worse. I try to accept it and stick with each moment. Though I dare you not to hope that when your infant sleeps five hours one night she’ll do it again the next.
But then I’ll notice something that’s changed one morning. Her hands are bigger, her cheeks are rounder, she smiles at the sound of my voice or laughs in her sleep for the first time. Two rough hands grab me around the shoulders and shake me awake, opening my eyes to what’s in front of me. I find the gratitude and I’m so grateful for this blessing – a sweet, healthy, little girl. By 5 pm after a day with 20 minute naps I’ll forget again, but the cycle continues.
When she finally sleeps snuggled against me, I smell her head and remember, whispering thank you, thank you, thank you out into the universe.
Favorite Moment of the Day:
I took her out of the moby wrap while she was still sleeping. She stayed scrunched up in the fetal position when I laid her down on the couch on her back. She let out a sigh and pulled her knees up to her chest and stretched her little arms high over her head, yawning.
Something to Remember – March:
The awe I felt meeting our girl the moment she was born. Seeing a life where previously there wasn’t one you can’t help but believe in some greater life force – God, the universe, whatever floats your boat. It’s a miracle no matter how you look at it. From a few tiny cells a whole life comes to be.
Well my brain has picked up and moved out. Beyond getting through the regular motions of my day there is nothing going on upstairs right now… I’ve gotten sick of staring down blank pages and empty computer screens. By the time I muster up the mental power needed to put a few words down I’m so exhausted with the effort that my pregnant body shuts down and instanap. I fall asleep with my laptop balancing on my belly. I’m trying to accept that it’s where I’m at today, as hard as it is.
While I wait for my mind and my ability to write anything at all to come back at least I get to look at cute baby stuff. That helps a bit.
This stuffed bunny has a nice story. When my mom was pregnant with me she bought a stuffed animal the very day she heard my heartbeat. She had a funny feeling about the bear when she saw him sitting on the shelf at the toy store. On her way home, she couldn’t even tuck him all the way in the shopping bag. She left his head peeking out. Mr. Bear became my most beloved toy when I was young. Of all the stuffed animals I had I picked him out especially.
Back to this little bunny… My mom bought him at a bookstore over the summer on a whim. When she saw him she had the same funny feeling she had when she first saw Mr. Bear. She decided she had to buy the rabbit for her future grandchild. My husband and I hadn’t mentioned that we were even thinking about having a baby. My dad of course told her it was crazy and that she shouldn’t pressure us into having kids and so on. But she bought the bunny, vowing she’d stash him away for whenever we did decide to have a baby. It turns out that I was five weeks pregnant the day she bought him. My mom’s intuition is uncanny.
Things that come in size tiny are also pretty adorable. It’s still hard to imagine that we will be putting these little booties on teeny feet that are already growing.
Every day is a good day. I try to remember that as often as I can, but I usually only remember it on the really wonderful days or the really terrible days. Thankfully today was a wonderful one. I don’t know exactly what it is, but I feel like I hit my stride today. I’ve found some level of acceptance with all of the physical changes brought about by the pregnancy – nonexistent energy, an increasingly round body, psychotic hormones, brain fog and more. With a lot, a lot, a lot of mindful practice I’m doing a better job of staying in the moment too. If I don’t, I get swept up in all of the uncertainty of not knowing what my life is going to be like in four months when our family of two becomes three.
I have to learn over and over again that worrying doesn’t actually accomplish anything. I read somewhere (and ha! just remembered where) that worrying is meditating on a bad outcome. My first thought was well of course. This simple way of framing worrying has changed things for me so much. It helped me get over it by seeing how much energy I pour into things not working out how I want them too.
I think the other big piece of feeling so good lately has been tapping back into gratitude. I read this woman’s story the other day (be warned it had me in tears). It’s a really powerful example of finding the gift in a really hard situation and tapping into the gratitude. When I remember to be thankful, I remember that I have enough of everything I need, that I am enough just as I am. It helps everything.
Well the first week of pregnancy was all joy and excitement and perfect physical condition. No symptoms I thought to myself my body is totally made for this I got this, no sweat. This week I’m having more of a melt down. The fact that our house is in complete chaos because we’re moving has left my head spinning. I can’t quite catch my breath. That coupled with the fact that morning sickness kicked in today was enough to send me into a small melt down.
The hormones they are raging today. I’m tired. I’m nauseated and I’m scared. I’m scared about being a mom as much as I’m excited about it. Will I be any good at it? What will it look like? What will our life be like? So many questions and no idea what the answers might be.
Part of me feels like I’m going to be all consumed by having a baby and become a parent instead of a person. Another part of me fears that my husband won’t be able to give me the support that I need, or that I’ll need too much. Not to mention, I don’t have a strong support system of friends here. I have friends I can call and keep in touch with, and who knows maybe this experience will bring me closer to other moms.
I felt so good, so light last week on the joy of finding out I had a little soul holding on to me. I convinced myself, alright, this is going to be easy sailing. I got this no worries. Even at the relief I felt knowing that I can do this, the little voice in the back of my head said, “this feeling too shall pass.” Well it’s always a Godsend when I’m going through a tough time, but it’s harder having to remember that the highs are also impermanent.
At some level I’m thankful I touched the joy in a way I haven’t in a really long time. Yes it’s true though. Those feelings passed, but I feel the current anxiety and fear that swept me away this evening dissipating too. I think this is also passing. Accepting where I am – will probably always be one of my greatest challenges.
Sometimes I really wish I had a best friend. Someone whose house I could invite myself over to for a cup of tea and to talk. Maybe after her kids were asleep or in bed. A place to cry and grumble about our husbands and laugh with each other. Another woman to understand and empathize. I’m confident that I’ll find the friendship I’m looking for some day. Though, there’s no magic trick. Finding that sort of friendship won’t make all my anxieties and fears disappear. It might help me wade through it more easily. For now though, it’s up to me to meet my own needs, stay present, and not get too swept up in waves of feelings.
Originally written the week of July 9.