I’ve officially been a mother for 11 weeks. They say you form habits after 28 days so by now it’s safe to say I have now formed the habit of being a mom. Let’s do some math: the first 6 weeks is really a blur, baby is getting used to being on the outside, your body is healing, for our family, the holidays were all mixed in with this, trying to find time to eat copious amounts of food to satisfy your nursing appetite (this doesn’t change with the weeks), juggling visitors, bathroom breaks, trying to nap, do dishes, cook, clean, walk the dogs…it truly is a feat, motherhood. Anyway, after those six weeks, it’s still a blur, but you’re a little more used to the blur. The blur feels normal. Somehow you feel adjusted. The weeks following were your boot camp, kicking you into shape. That doesn’t mean you have it all together, and that’s just fine. Hell, I don’t think I’ll ever have it ALL really together (even pre-pregnancy) but somehow you’re feeling just a little bit more suited for this mom thing. Your tiny human is still in one piece so we’re doing something right.
And seeing RJ reach little milestones each day is truly breathtaking and reassuring me that I’m doing something right right now. He’s cooing and holding some very important conversations, he has discovered his fingers and feet and is always on the move though he looks more like a puppet than a real person, he grasps at things including toys, fingers, hair, and the boobs. He smiles and laughs. He can look every which way and hold his head up for long stretches. And as of last night, he’s sleeping through the night, sorta. He got a 5 hour stretch in, followed by waking every 2 hours until it was time to get our day started. For the uninitiated, 5 hours = “through the night” in baby talk.
Now I can’t call myself an expert in all things motherhood, But with 11 weeks under my belt, here are 11 things that I’ve learned so far:
1. It gets lonely. Even though you now have a permanent best friend, it’s hard to hold a conversation. If you aren’t going back to a traditional workplace after the pitiful 6 week maternity leave most American moms are given, not having regular adult interaction is a reality. And if your partner is holding it down for both of you, you won’t be able to lean on them because they might have a crazy schedule like the man. I try to call my grandma a couple times a week, I welcome any and all conversation on my daily walks now, and of course blogging and actively participating in a mommy group helps keep my brain from turning ton any mush.
2. Forget a long hot shower. The whole not getting a full night of sleep thing means you do not want to try to wake up “early” to shower. Maybe that comes a little later, but definitely not with a newborn, which means I might not get to showering until the afternoon when the man is already gone to work. If baby isn’t asleep, I hop in and get down to business and listen for crying. All in all, my showers might max out at 5 minutes. Last time I took showers that fast I was in a northern Thai village taking a bucket shower with cold water and huge spiders less than 3 feet away. Shorter showers mean I’m saving water so that’s a silver lining but you definitely miss the luxury of being able to rinse all of the conditioner out of your hair.
3. Baby farts. They don’t stink yet, but they are loud, like as loud as the man..and our big pit bull. Sometimes I can’t tell which one did it. And no matter how mature I’m supposed to be, baby farts will never cease to be funny.
4. It takes forever to get out of the house. You get the baby ready, you get ready, you nurse the baby, you change the baby, you double check that everything is packed, baby cries and needs to be nursed again just to make sure he’s completely full, and then finally you get down to the car. In writing that all seems pretty quick, but here is a much more accurate and detailed description of what my days out look like. I love trying new things with RJ, but this little routine makes it damn easier to stay inside.
5. I eat more now than I did while I was pregnant. I had cravings while I was pregnant but nothing crazy, mostly cheeseburgers, fruit, and ice cream. But now that RJ is on the outside, I still crave those things and so much more. It’s partially caused by the breastfeeding but also caused by being home all day. Now that I’m not constantly juggling a million work things, I actually have time to eat and I kind of love it. The holidays made it easy to pig out, but now that they have passed, I’m weaning myself off of junk food and making a much better effort of eating clean and cooking all of our meals.
6. I have never wanted a pedicure so much in my life. For obvious reasons I can’t really get one, and as a new mom, always on your feet, they take a beating. I haven’t gotten that first day to myself to be pampered and go wild so this is a biggie. I did however get a chance to spruce up my toes and nails during a nap this week, but that was a tough bargain and I had to do it super fast. Still nothing beats a good foot rub and a little pampering at the hands of someone else.
7. RJ makes the cutest faces. I’m biased of course because I made this tiny human but heck, even his frowns are cute. You know the exaggerated pout girls do when you say something that’s not really sad at all?? Well babies actually do this as their “I’m about to start crying” face. It’s hard because you know that they are frustrated about something but you can’t help but giggle at how cute their little expression is. And I never give up an opportunity to ogle his little face. When he’s awake, when he’s asleep, when he’s happy, when he’s sad, poop face, spit up face, I love them all!
8. Everyone has an opinion about how you do something with your child. I mean everyone and as a first time mom, it can make you anxious. “Don’t give him raspberries”, “you should just have another since you’re staying home” “burp him like this” , “wipe him like that”. People who don’t have kids or no desire to have them are suddenly experts because they babysat once. People mean well, and some advice is helpful , but as long as I’m not putting my child in harms way, let me do me boo boo.
9. The period where babies can’t hear things in their sleep aka when you must start being quiet when they’re asleep comes quick. For some reason I just assumed that lasted the whole first year, nope. We’re tiptoeing and shushing dogs already. And that god forsaken car alarm we hear go off every morning at 7am, I will report you to the city if you don’t get it together. Not only am i protective over my child, I’m extremely protective over his sleep.
10. When baby starts sleeping through the night, you won’t know what to do with yourself, I don’t. On one hand, now you have all this free time to do things without baby attached at the hip, but on the other you’re worried about their breathing, you have separation anxiety with them in the other room, and you want nothing more than for them to wake up so you can see that cute little face again. It’s seriously a test of extremes. You’re tired as hell but you can’t stand to be away in one form or another from your baby. Is that weird, am I weird? Probably and probably not at the same damn time. Moms are weird.
11. As many stories as you’ll hear, as much advice as you’ll get, as many books, lists, and blogs you read, no one can ever tell you how your experience will be. Not the pregnancy, not the labor and delivery, not motherhood, and you won’t know what yours will be like until you’re in the thick of it. The benefit to all the stories and sharing others experiences though, is the solidarity and the similarities you will find. Being a mom is like being part of a club that only other moms can understand. We all bring something different to the table so it’s fun to hear everyone’s stories and it’s even more fun When you can all laugh because your babies had an exploding diaper on you this morning.
11 weeks down, a lifetime to go. Thanks for following along.