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.
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.
Having a baby tilted the axis of my world. I don’t intend for this to become a “mommy blog,” but at the moment my baby is pretty central to everything. If I want to be honest about living with an open heart and write about that, then I have to own up to the fact the she’s got a monopoly on my heart right now (and my brain and my time and my boobs…). It won’t be that way forever, but to be true to where I am right now most of my writing here will probably be more about life with a baby than usual.
Mama and Baby (c) Open Hearted
Two Weeks In – March 27
Making it through one day at a time. I look at the clock and chunks of time fly by. Last time it was 10 am. Now it’s 3 pm. I’m still in my pajamas, baby is still in her pajamas. I made myself a poor excuse for a lunch and did the dishes. Huge victory. We had some snuggle time in the morning. Sometimes I wonder how I’ll keep going like this day after day. On demand nursing, means on demand. You never know when what you think might be a three or four hour break during a nap, dissolves into feedings every forty-five minutes.
I’m a mama. I’m actually a mother now. Somehow it feels perfectly natural and totally foreign all at the same time. At moments I panic. I have to do this every day? Keep a tiny human being alive? Feed her, change her, respond to her cries, wake up when she needs to eat, change another diaper moments after I’ve put on a clean one? How do I do this? And find time to do one thing for myself? And work? And talk to my husband? It’s so much right now. I’m overwhelmed. She needs everything from me. I freely give everything too as overwhelmed as I feel. I look into her sweet little almond shaped eyes and I’m high in the clouds. The little nose, long tiny fingers, frog-like feet, perfectly round head, soft fine hair, and the smell. Oh the smell of her newborn head. I’m drunk on it. It’s like falling in love for the first time on some psychedelic drug that amplifies every feeling and emotion.
The general sleep deprivation is pretty tough though. I try not to calculate how much actual sleep I get – or don’t get – in a night. It makes it easier to gloss over it. The postpartum pain is a bitch too. I hurt in places I was unaware of before delivering a baby. I hope it goes away. I need to walk. I want to be outside in the sun. I want to do yoga without worrying about tearing my stitches.
I wonder, how will I do this again tomorrow? And the next day and the one after that? Right now we’re making it through day by day. We’re doing whatever we need to do to get through this one day. That’s good enough, even if it means watching everything on Netflix. Or laying on the couch all day alternating between feedings and naps.
Today’s our first day at home without H. The little one and I dropped him off at the shuttle stop early this morning in the rain. I slept horribly last night. She was awake every hour and in between feedings she was grumbling. My maternal instincts are in over drive. I’m alert and wide awake at the slightest arm twitch or raspy breath. Then this morning she refused to nap. In the past few days I’ve gotten a good two hour chunk of time first thing in the morning. Today was only 45 minutes and after the grueling night we had I felt jipped, cheated. I know she has no control over her sleeping and eating schedules right now, but I’m strapped in to that ride no matter how hard or crazy-making it gets. Today has been tough. At the third feeding, with no sleepy droopy baby eyes in sight I started crying when she cried again. My whole day hinges around this tiny little being who is only beginning to learn how to be in this world.
I can fix all of her problems right now. This is the only time in her life when I’ll be able to soothe her, comfort her, no matter what troubles her. Her problems are simple, wet diaper, hunger, need for comfort. As she gets older and her feelings get hurt by a friend, she feels disappointed in not achieving something she’d hoped for, her heart gets broken, all I can do is offer to stand next to her. I won’t be able to take her troubles or tears away.
I love that I can cuddle her and she still fits in the space between my chest and hips. She’s grown so much and I know this phase won’t last very long. I love the smell of her head. The unearthly softness of her hair and cheeks. The sweet smiles she makes as she falls asleep. And oh my good the sweetness of her milk breath. I could watch her for hours on end, just sleep and breathe and coo and take in the world around her. She changes every day and I try to appreciate each moment as much as I can. I know they won’t last long. She officially grew out of the newborn size diapers and her first onesies. It’s hard to know we can never go back, only forward.
I’m also grateful for an incredibly supportive partner. H has taken on so many more chores around the house. I love to watch him love that little girl. He dotes on her and can’t stop kissing the top of her head. He also loves that she prefers getting burped by him. He changes diapers all the time. And most importantly he listens to me and comforts me when the hormones and the hardness of this period of time get the best of me. He’s my better half, the last piece that completes the puzzle and I couldn’t do this without him.
(c) Open Hearted
I’m a mama. On March 13 at 2:18 pm our beautiful daughter was born 7 lb 10 oz and 21 inches. After 24 hours of labor I pushed this teeny little being out of my body. The doctor and nurse told me most women push for a few hours, and I thought no way she’s coming in an hour. I opened my eyes during the last push and all I could see was the back of this tiny, fuzzy little head. A noise escaped my throat that I’d never heard before. It was a cry of raw, pure, joy. In that moment I became a mama. This was my little baby. Our family was now three forever after. The doctor placed her on my chest for a moment and she felt warm and squashy. I held her inches from my face. I can’t even remember H standing next to me and looking on us both. I wish I’d looked up and memorized his expression.
He coached me through labor brilliantly. He did everything I needed and it was hard for him to see me in so much pain. He got tears in his eyes and he watched our little girl welcomed into the light of our world. He took such good care of me and hesitated before going over with the baby when she went to get cleaned off. I’ve never seen anything as wonderful as a new dad taking in every little detail of his new daughter. Her dark brown hair, almond shaped puffy eyes, pink skin, teeny nose, and long froggy-like hands and fingers.
Then the nurse brought her back over to me inthe hospital bed and I snuggled her on my chest. We made a flurry of phone calls and texts to let everyone know she was here. I kept her in my arms the whole time. The sun was streaming through the window on an unusually beautiful San Francisco afternoon. We became parents that day. I felt reborn myself. Parts of me came alive that had never woken up before. Parts I didn’t even know I had. I felt a deep and profound love down to the toes of my soul. I instantly loved this little baby with more than everything I had in my heart. She was perfect. When I laid eyes on her she didn’t feel familiar, but my first thought was, of course. Of course this is our baby. This little one chose us. My heart was ripped wide open.
I hope to write down a more in depth birth story soon, but I’m too tired to do it now.