Becoming a mom to a living human baby at the age of 45 is a shock to the system. I feel immensely guilty saying that, but it is the truth.
As I stated in my previous post (which was hella long, TL;DR word vomit) after 45 years of being accountable to very few people, having a squalling infant, dependent on me for every need was a *little* hard to adapt to.
At first, I wanted to make sure I monitored her every need and move 24/7, but as that exhausted me to the point that I became physically ill from sleep deprivation, I had to give that up and try to find a happy medium to my parenting strategy which would still provide for Lil’ P, but which would allow me to actually sleep, eat, and occasionally shower.
Postpartum was challenging for me, too. For, as I live with way too many mental health issues, it was difficult to tell if I was depressed because of postpartum depression, or if I was just going through a normal downswing in my depressive cycle.
But, after a few months #BritishHusband and I found our rhythm and started to get good at the parenting a newborn thing. We had a routine, we had a schedule. I took the dayshift, he took the nightshift. We both had to work, so we were both still exhausted – but thankfully I work from home, so we didn’t need to hire anyone to come in and stay with Lil’ P, except when I needed a break or had a lot of projects to work on at once.
As soon as we got comfortable, of course, things would change and our lives would be upside down again. Lil’ P grew, experienced cognitive leaps, refused to sleep unless she was lying on top of me, refused to let me feed her a bottle (breastfeeding didn’t work for us b/c she was a preemie and because my milk just didn’t come in.) And, so on and so on the months went… she wouldn’t poop, she pooped too much… she barfed up her food, (but was a “happy barfer,” as the pediatrician told us.) She learned how to roll over, sit up, crawl, pull her self to the standing position. She began eating baby food, then finger food… she teethed and got drool rash, those teeth popped through the gums and she began biting everything… you know.
And, even though she was slowly becoming aware, communicative, and autonomous, our focus was still on her 22/7 (taking approximately 2 hours to eat, shower, and maybe get a little sleep where we weren’t at her whim.)
Even though we had a groove, we were still exhausted. And, both #BritishHusband and I need breaks. At first, we felt guilty about taking them. After having our oldest daughter die, and experiencing miscarriage-after-miscarriage, at least I felt enormously guilty about being overwhelmed by her and by parenthood, in general.
This is what I wanted most in the world. I wasn’t appreciating it enough. It didn’t help that when I would try to vent my feelings of being completely overwhelmed to family and friends that they would remind me of Maddie or my miscarriages and say shit like “You’re so lucky! Enjoy it!”
Or, the ever lovely “She’s so EASY, what are you complaining about?”
Telling a new parent to enjoy themselves or that their child is easy are the lamest.
Yeah we do enjoy ourselves, but not all the time. Yeah, the baby is being easy *right now* but she sure as fuck wasn’t at 3am and 4am and 5am this morning. Or when she dumped a whole bowl of mushy peas over her head 15 minutes before you had to be out the door for work. Or, at 5pm when she was melting down because she was tired (as she refused to nap all day,) and you were changing her diaper… and, bedtime was still two hours away.
This shit is hard hard work and it’s not for the faint of heart. You’re exhausted, dirty, often at your wits end because you cannot figure out what your child needs, or your child is refusing to do what is good for them (nap, eat, etc.) It’s tough stuff.
Mama (and Dada, too) need a fucking break. Even if it’s just sitting in your air conditioned car for 5 minutes after getting home from the grocery store and reading Facebook on your phone. Even if it’s locking yourself in the bathroom for 10 minutes and pretending to poop.
You need a break. I know I do! I know #BritishHusband does. Especially, as Lil’ P has gotten older and mobile and talkative (payback is a bitch, Katie) and more involved in life. Whereas before I felt like parenthood was a constant game of “Try to Figure Out What this Screaming Creature Wants” – now it’s more like “I Am the Host of a Baby Party” and I have to entertain her or keep her out of trouble with constant supervision.
Did you know babies like to chew on dirty flip-flops?
Neither did I.
They like to eat dog food and try to climb into the bathtub and crack their tiny little heads on corners and crawl under tables where you cannot reach them and chew on iPhone cords, too.
So, yes – my baby is adorable and I love her most in the entire universe. But, damn she’s hard work. And, I worry constantly about her and if I’m doing a good job and creating an excellent human being to release into the world around about the time I am supposed to be retiring. I need a break from time to time, it’s just a fact.
I am trying to find the path to no longer feeling guilty for being fallible (not being there every second to prevent her from cracking her head on something) and having human needs (not being able to tolerate her screaming at me non-stop for hours because I have the temerity to try to feed her or put her in her crib hoping she’ll sleep.)
It’s a work in progress. Both her and me. Hopefully I’m not fucking her up. I think I’m doing okay, but who knows? Guess this is TL;DR word vomit, too. I guess I have feelings on this topic.