// Four months later..//
Well, four months have passed and every cliché saying moms say come spilling out of my mouth every day, most of all “Where does the time go?” Seriously.
I decided I would just do one big update once I was back at work and settled. During my maternity leave I was entrenched in the ebb and flow of Marlow time – never knowing what day or time it is, only marking days and hours by when Marlow last ate, pooped, smiled, slept, etc. So get ready, big recap coming your way. I only wish this could capture it all, but I accept this will come WAY short.
First of all, can I say to all you other mothers that came before me, I’m mad at you. You didn’t tell me. You didn’t tell me, but then I guess you never could have put into words, the “curse” of motherhood. The constant fear, constant worry, nightmare-inducing panic that I will live with forever. Okay, maybe you tried to tell me, but maybe I didn’t get it. I’m currently designing the interiors of my daughter’s bubble because, holy moly; she should live in there forever. My brain will never work the same again. EVER. Yes, the world seems equally scarier and equally brighter all at the same time with my new label “mom”. And whether I have ten kids or one, my baby is my baby; and I’ll only want to keep her happy and safe forever. And then I remember my job is to let her know she can be a bright spot in the world, be vulnerable, is not perfect, and is worthy of great love and God’s good grace. It’s okay though. I will take the curse if it means I get to love this for the rest of my life:
And another thing you didn’t explain clearly enough. Everyone says, “Do what’s right for you.” What you should have said is, “Roll the dice. Choose one way or another. Doesn’t matter because no matter what, you’re wrong. Or at least you’ll end up feeling that way.” Right?! Okay, so it’s not that dramatic, BUT what I’ve learned is to just go with what works for us/what our hearts are compelled to AND – this is key – don’t.look.back. Yet, I always do. It takes a while to come to terms with the fact that whatever method, philosophy, approach I choose, I sacrifice or risk something. Every choice will have some hidden “they-never-told-me-that-that-might-happen” consequence. It will happen again and again forever, but I will wear out too fast if I try to do anything but choose what’s best for us including its’ consequences. Again, it’s okay because this:
So, maternity leave.
Oh sweet, chaotic, twilight zone of three months. I loved it. Like LOVED it. Yes, I had some really hard days…and nights. Some things that happened:
- Participated in a healthy, compassionate c-section.
- Sobbed while nursing, tears falling in my face and hers. (joy, not pain, also sometimes frustration)
- Cried when she first smiled at me. My heart broke from being too full.
- Fell asleep while nursing.
- I think I fell asleep standing.
- Woke up in panic making sure she was okay.
- Stayed in pajamas all day some days.
- Snuggled and snuggled even though our sweaty skin stuck together.
- Made my husband sleep on the floor a time or two.
- Felt inadequate. A lot.
- Did my best to comfort her when she’d fuss for three hours every single night for 7 weeks.
- Celebrated the first time she: didn’t have a witching hour; took a bottle; took a bottle 10 weeks later; didn’t cry on a car ride; slept in her cradle; held something in her hand; and many more firsts.
- Got lonely.
- Finally understood why people say they love nursing. I love it. (Also, there were moments I wanted to throw in the towel.)
- Cried over my changed body. Celebrated it later.
- Had the sweetest Christmas ever even though I cried every 5 minutes (hello hormones).
- Wished I had a picture of my boobs from before.
- Mourned the loss of life before baby.
- Stared and stared and stared into that beautiful, tiny face.
- Dreamed of our bright future.
- Felt physical pain during separation.
- Wore her. Then spilled crumbs on her. lol
- Had near panic attacks in crowds.
- Didn’t visit a grocery store in three months.
- Almost never left the house. And felt totally okay about it.
- Marveled at my husband becoming a dad. Fell more in love.
- Was amazed every time she stopped crying just because she’s with me. Still do.
Let’s visit some things I learned (a short version):
- Every baby is so different. No. REALLY. When we finally accepted her the way she is, life got so much sweeter. We stopped listening to what others thought would and should work for her. We only needed to listen to her. She tells us everything we need to know if we stop managing her and just listen to her and accept the answer. We’ve come to know her and we know what will and won’t work for her…most of the time.
- I realized that as soon as we worry about something, Marlow reminds us she’ll do it/learn it/adjust in her own time. Everything we’ve tried to implement has failed. She’s literally lead the way the entire time. It’s working great. It’s taught us to have more patience and trust her.
- As soon as we figure something out or establish a new norm, it changes.
- I needed a lot of support from other moms and still do.
- It takes a village. My families have been there for us and more. So blessed.
- Parenting will find your weaknesses and exploit them. I realized how much stronger I’m going to need to be when it comes to speaking my mind. (I know you might think I have no problem with that, but oh, I do, especially with those closest to me.) I will have to stand up and voice some things that normally I wouldn’t for the better of my daughter regardless of how it makes others feel.
- I appreciate my mom so much more than ever before, not just because of her doing awesome raising us three kids, but because she rocks as a grandma and mother to me as a new mom. She supports and encourages us in our parenting. I like to remember that my mom parented without all the books and blogs; she just moved to the beat of her own drum like she always has and let the heart lead. Good reminder. I know my husband feels the same about his mom. We can’t believe what they both did and so much younger than us. Strong women.
- I feel really bad to all my friends who had babies before me, which is just about all of them. I remember so desperately wishing I had known how to help you or be there for you. There’s just no way I could have known. I’m sorry. You are so amazing.
- I have unending appreciation and empathy for all moms, each doing their best while never knowing what will come next.
Here are some other sweet mom “skills” I picked up. Tell me you’ve done these, too.
- Learned how to pee while wearing a baby in a wrap. Yes, it happened.
- Learned how to complain nicely about the following:
- lack of wheelchair access (strollers)
- lack of changing tables in bathrooms
- lack of consideration when seating people with a child seat at restaurants
- general lack of respect and consideration from young turds.
- Mastered the art of changing a baby in a public restroom without touching ANYTHING. Figured out how to change a baby in the car during winter and also pouring rain. Also feeding in a car seat. Come on, you’ve done it.
- Flying with a baby.
- Nursed in an airport while wearing baby in the bjorn.
- Can now dodge all of Spokane’s pot holes if there’s a sleeping baby in the car. Clean it up Spokane!
- How to do just about any chore in my home without making a peep.
- Developed military style hand signals between the husband and I. One quick hand signal and he understands, “I need my cell phone and no, I don’t know where I left it, bring pump parts, some water, and can you pull off my yoga pants because I’m holding a sleeping baby, and also pull back the covers so I can go to bed. mkaythanks.”
And now some final words about the miracle that grew in my belly and now occupies my heart and lives in my arms…my baby, Marlow.
[insert all the amazing things parents say about their kids here. All true for me, too.]
She’s funny. And sweet. And sometimes bossy, I mean, expressive ;P. We see ourselves in her already. She likes to talk, a lot. She likes to listen to herself. She gives these smiles where she softly leans in and closes her eyes at the same time and it makes you melt into human butter. She makes hilarious poop faces and we love them. Looking at her makes everything else disappear. She made us mom and dad. She made us into a family. She makes us better people. She’s evidence of miracle – seriously, how does that even happen?! We created a human. I can’t believe we even have that privilege. She’s makes me question how good of a mom I could possibly be, and then I remember that I’m meant to be her mom and she my daughter. We will go through this life loving, learning, and laughing together. It’s going to be hard, and it’ll also be so good that it takes my breath away. I’m only 4 months into this position I’ll occupy for the rest of my life, but I say parenting is full of challenge, irony, joy and roller coasters …topped with poop, milk loogies, drool, permanent under eye bags, and never-ending loads of laundry. Ah, the good life, my friends!