So everyone is asking me the same question…… “So, how it’s going?!”
I look at them and half smile, take a long pause with an extended sigh, and say, “Good!”
Here’s what I don’t tell most people (some people, of course, get the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth). It all runs through my head in an instant during the sigh.
How’s it going?
Well, let’s see…I’ve got a new tiny baby who, although perfect and adorable and amazing in every way, lives in my house now. He’s fully dependent on his parents for every little thing. He doesn’t acknowledge my existence, but demands every ounce of everything I have, making me feel like most days I’ve given all I can give by 10 a.m. He is sleeping at night, but still up every 3 hours to eat. And then of course because he has gas and spit up issues and is already rocking a gnarly cold with congestion galore, we have to keep him upright for at least 20 minutes after he eats so he doesn’t die or something — making a simple middle of the night bottle feed feel like an eternity, even though it lasts for only 45 minutes (if I don’t fall asleep holding him in that last 20 minutes – then it’s anyone’s guess when I wake up hoping I haven’t dropped him and get myself back to bed). And during the day he sleeps best when attached to me in some way, making it impossible to get anything done. I know I need to just lay him down and let him cry but then there goes my relaxing nap time! Seriously, my victory at the end of the day is knowing that we are all alive and that I maybe unloaded the dishwasher…or at least had the presence of mind to write it down on the to-do list I never look at anymore. And that’s just Cal.
Then there’s Josie, who has always been amazing and stubborn and goofy and empathetic with a large dose of sass. Now that she’s almost 3 and simultaneously going through a major life change where she has to realize she isn’t the center of the universe, she’s really amped up the stubborn and the sass. Oh my. Screaming, disobeying, hitting – you name it – she’s doing it. Now, in between those meltdowns are amazing memories that I will try to use to block out the other low points she’s bringing me to these days. Sweet moments where she begs to hold Cal, where he makes a tiny whimper and she sprints from any room in the house to force-feed him his paci. Every time she talks to him, her voices goes up an extra octave and her smile is ear to ear. Those are the things I will remember instead of us yelling at each other to stop crying and yelling at each other (Parenting Tip: This method does not work. If you find yourself in this situation, immediately question all of your life decisions, and then abort mission. You’re welcome).
And then there’s Ryan, whom I love but don’t really know right now. Who walks in from a long day at work and an even longer commute home to me telling him to choose which screaming child he’d like to take a run at comforting. Josie, locked in her high chair but throwing a world-ending fit because I “started” her string cheese for her. Or Cal, who was quietly napping in the other room until the string cheese incident occurred. Ryan, who loses his wife to either tears or sleep between 8 and 9 every night now (thankfully at 4 weeks postpartum, most nights it is sleep, not tears). And Ryan, who has a million projects to do around the house, but forfeits those most of the time to engage with his family instead. I mean, watching the relationship between Josie and her Daddy take off these last few weeks has been awesome. Life-changing and life-saving (because prior to this she was all Mommy, all the time, and right now Mommy ain’t got time for that).
And then there’s me, who just to carve out an hour to write this blog, had to first drop Josie off at daycare, let my baby scream while I showered, heat up coffee for the third time this morning, and get a spoonful of leftover chocolate buttercream icing from the fridge. (*Real life update: Just finishing this 30 hours later.) Me, who had to make some tough choices in the last few weeks (like going from nursing to pumping to formula, but more on that in another post). And sometimes the choices were only tough because in the few weeks after having a baby, my mental capacity for decision-making is basically zero.
Week 1 example: Ryan’s sisters wants to order us dinner for delivery all the way from Arizona? Awesome! I cry, and then Ryan hands me the menu and I cry harder because I can’t decide what to order. All the while knowing I won’t enjoy the meal anyway because I have anxiety that hits between 5-7 p.m. the first week or two postpartum for fear of what the night may bring.
Week 2 example: I have Cal sleeping quietly in my arms, but I need to pee, so I decide to put him down. The time between when the decision was made and the actual putting him down was at least 15 minutes, because I was just paralyzed (until the bathroom thing became a real motivator).
Week 3 example: I get text messages from my Radio Theology peeps and I want to go back sooooooo bad, but I can’t even muster enough courage to text them back to say that I’m not ready yet and feel like I have nothing to offer anyone. (*Healthy update: by Week 4 I was back in action)
Week 4 example: Shave my legs. Ok, fine, I didn’t shave all the way up, I stopped at the knee because it was just too big of a commitment.
And me, who admits out loud when I can, to the best moms I know, including my own, that I don’t know how people do this. They each give the same answer, by the way, and it is this: They just do. You figure it out. And keep figuring it out. You talk to other moms about it so you don’t feel at all alone. And you let yourself laugh and cry and succeed and fail again and again.
So, to answer your question – how’s it going? It’s good! Reeeeaaaalllly good…with all the other tough stuff in between. And that’s ok.
And a big fat P.S. A HUGE thank you to our amazing family and friends for all of the help they’ve given us – with meals, toddler-watching and baby-holding, cleaning, cooking, and doses and doses of encouragement. You guys rock. And are the reason that people can do this.