Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The New Me

The transformation from pregnant mother-to-be to mom is one journey I thought I was ready for. After all I had eight months to prepare myself for our lives to get flipped turned upside down. But no amount of reading, searching the Internet or advice from other people can truly prepare you for the upheaval a baby does on not only your body, but your emotions, your marriage, your sanity. I read an article the other day that perfectly describes how I am feeling about myself on any given day. It was a letter a mom wished she had written to her pre-mom self. And the part that lists the differences you will experience as a new mother really hit home, but no more than this passage:

"You will be different. You will see parts of yourself that are unrecognizable, brought only to the surface by the sheer fact that another human is suddenly dependent on you for everything. You will be anxious, you will worry, you will feel overprotective like you have never felt before. You will simultaneously need space and not need space because all you want to do is be alone and also never leave your baby with anyone else. You will uncover a plethora of mom-related judgements that were hiding in your heart all along, and one by one they will fall by the wayside as you realize just how hard and messy and glorious this calling of motherhood actually is. You will learn to love fiercely and wildly without expectations, and for the first time in your whole life, your heart will default to selflessness—a part of you that always existed but was buried deep down inside—waiting for this moment, this change, this baby, this occasion to rise."

The physical changes were nothing compared to the emotional ones. The fact I had to use a squeegee to clean myself whenever I went to the bathroom, slept on what Charming and I affectionately called puppy pads so I didn't leak all over the bed, wore a bra to bed so I didn't wake up in a puddle, clumps of my hair falling out, hemorrhoids the size of grapes and hips and a lower back that still don't feel quite right, I took these things all in stride. Part of the experience I reminded myself. Sure, I was bleeding for the first time in almost a year, my body was squishy in weird places, had stitches in a zone I was too afraid to look at and would discover sex now felt...weird. But that was all worth it because I had a baby all our own.

What threw me for a loop was the fact I felt off. At first I am sure I had a touch of the baby blues combined with sleeplessness and sheer terror. I had heard about that moment that every mother reaches at some point in desperation and exhaustion. That moment where bad thoughts creep in and you have to put your child down and walk away to collect yourself. Never thought it would happen to me. But when the fleeting image of me using a pillow to stop Babycakes from crying for just. one. second entered my brain, it scared me so badly I began to seriously question myself and if I was capable of being someone's mother. The fact I recognized that that moment was very real and that I would never, ever do anything to hurt my baby flipped a switch. From then on I started to become the new mom I absolutely didn't want to be.

I worried about everything. I wasn't sleeping because I would stare at the monitor to make sure Babycakes was still breathing. I questioned how everyone else did things for the baby because their ways were not MY ways and so they had to be wrong. I wanted a break but I didn't want to be away from my baby and I had a hard time trusting anyone else with her. I began to look at other moms on Facebook and out in public, declaring I would NEVER do that with my child. In short, I became the biggest douche of a mom and I hated myself for it. I could see myself falling into this spiral and if I didn't do something quickly I would turn into the absolute antithesis of the kind of mother I always saw myself being.

So, I made an effort to stop. I loosened up my new mommy reigns and allowed people to help and anxiety to take a hike. Sure, I still worried a bit, but I wasn't running into her room every hour to check that she was breathing. I didn't hover over my husband any more while he changed a diaper to tell him he should do it THIS way. And I started to enjoy. Because through all that worry and anxiety I got lost in the dependency part and forgot to really see my daughter. Sure, she needed me, a lot, but every day was a new adventure for her. Every day she got stronger and more interesting and discovered something new. I could still supply her needs, love her unconditionally, but also really enjoy her and experience life through her new eyes, something amazing and mind blowing. From that same article:

"Your whole life will be different. Every single day you will wake up with the responsibility of loving a child beyond measure. It will affect every decision you make, every thought you have, every fiber of your very existence. You will slowly learn to let go of control and expectations, a process you will practice every day for the rest of your life as a parent. You will start to see the world as a mom—you will see love and God and humanity through new eyes that will change you and mold you and make you more aware of how small you are and how big God is. A void will be fulfilled that you didn’t even know existed."

Our lives will never be the same and I am now a completely different person than I was six months ago. Things are messy and chaotic and there are days that go by when I forget to eat and don't even touch my husband. But I wouldn't change a thing.

0 Sprinkles: