While on my hiatus of self-discovery and weight gain, I went and got myself pregnant. While the experience has certainly been a new one, it has been kind of weird finding my way back to the land of reality. I am definitely not there yet. As the late comedian, Mitch Hedburg, suggested, if you’re lost in the woods, build a home; you won’t be lost anymore. I may do just that.
What came as the biggest surprise to me is just how much my self-confidence has been shaken up by the experience. I should start off by noting that this was a planned pregnancy, so nothing inherently traumatic about the circumstances behind the conception. I can’t say I’ve ever been an incredibly touchy-feeling kind of person, so I didn’t experience the unicorn-filled rainbow love that some women seem to feel.
It sounds like it would be an alien-kind of experience having what could one day be a sentient being growing inside of my womb, but it wasn’t. I tried to inspire that sort of awe, but it didn’t come. It kind of felt natural on some level. In many ways, it also felt very unnatural. The dislocated ribs, the swelling, the random sharp pains in my tailbone. That stuff made me question whether humans were ever meant to carry any kind of pregnancy at all. It doesn’t seem like our physiology was at all intended to do anything but walk on two legs and hold pens.
Well, now, I have a little sleepy critter who eats all the damn time. She doesn’t even wake up to eat. She’s living the life I wish I had as a teenager – she doesn’t have to walk anywhere, is fed on demand, and can sleep wherever she likes with no interruptions. Hell, she doesn’t even have to put any effort into evacuating her bowels. She can shit herself and it becomes someone else’s problem.
My psyche has remained more or less intact, but the self-doubt is crushing. Every day is a little easier and I question myself less, but the first several weeks were a nightmare of indecision and crippling hesitance. Normal, daily activities like brushing my teeth and doing laundry were suddenly overwhelming and I was convinced I was doing it wrong. In my mind, I knew it was fine and that it was probably the blood loss talking, but good fucking lord, I couldn’t stop myself. Even now, I am having some trouble penning emails that are not exactly difficult to write. I had to send an email to a relative and I couldn’t do it. I would write a couple of sentences, delete one, rewrite it, reword it, delete the first sentence, rewrite, and so on until I became so overwhelmed that I had to get up and walk away for a while. Thanks, hormones!
As I adjust to the new life that is motherhood, I do hope to start getting back into some of my normal routine. There are plenty of people who chime in that it’s impossible, but I assure you, it’s quite possible. Turns out, as long as babies get to eat and sleep, they’re pretty open to you doing whatever you want. Well, at least in the early weeks, anyway.
The unsolicited advice during pregnancy is bad, but my god, it only ramps up when you have the little creature in your arms. Nearly all of the advice I’ve gotten thus far has been completely unusable:
1. Enjoy this time. They’re only this little once
And thank goodness for that! Until they start smiling, babies suck. It’s a day filled with screaming and shitting without one little glimmer of anything to get you through the frustrating nights and exhausting days.
2. Put her on a feeding schedule!
Right, because newborns are totally capable of understanding that this new hunger pain in their stomach will go away in an hour, during their scheduled feeding time.
3. If she’s not sleeping through the night try…
Everything following this sentence is absolute nonsense. Newborns don’t sleep through the night. They’re supposed to wake up to eat.
4. Make sure you stimulate her.
Because I love it when she’s overtired. No.
5. You should space out her vaccinations. You know, so her little body isn’t overwhelmed.
6. You should/shouldn’t breastfeed in public.
7. Why don’t you try…?
No. Stop it.
My tactics for dealing with the endless stream of terrible advice have largely worked, though they probably aren’t for everyone. I’ve found that if you burst into tears, most people will stop talking. Pretty handy trick if you can pull it off. The other being the blanket response of “Yeah, but that goes against my religion”. I find that people are rarely willing to question that statement, no matter how perplexing the response is to them.
On the other hand, I still feel no desire to scare pregnant women with my birth story (which does include a serious complication) nor do I really want to tell them how terrible having a brand new baby is. They already know it’s going to be difficult. It is. The experience is pretty much as described, but survivable. Even the inconsolable bouts of crying aren’t so bad when you know they’re coming. One day, they’ll be over. One day, I’ll have a teenager who I can wake up with every ounce of enthusiasm in my soul at the ungodly hour of 8am. Oh, and when she asks why I insist that she wake up so early on a Saturday, I can laugh to myself and remember those nights of crying.
Oh, girl, you are in for it now.