These early days with my daughter are precious, and I treasure this time. I'm thankful for the gift of Emerson's health, and for mine. I'm thankful that God gave us a child, when I know that so many others desperately desire a child of their own.
I'm not complaining.
Being a mom and learning how to parent is...new...exciting...a challenge...a joy...and what I've always wanted. And so, I hesitate to write this, because I certainly don't want to come across as ungrateful. But, in between the lullabies & the pretty pink outfits, the photo-ops & the fun "firsts", there have been some harsh realities to face as I learn to be a mom. I want to document these, too...for posterity's sake, and in order to be truly genuine about this experience.
So, here's to "keeping it real"....
Motherhood is a 24/7 mindset. It's not as though I went into this blindly. I knew this was a 24/7 gig. But, there are some things that are impossible to comprehend until you're living it. Being a mom and being what Emerson needs me to be isn't something I can "turn off". And, I wouldn't want to! But, it's an experience unlike any other. I can't walk away from the situation...even physically leaving the room requires mindfulness about my baby's needs while I'm away. I can't shut down my brain and stop thinking about her. It is a constant, ceaseless responsibility and mindset that began the very second she was born. She's been a part of every one of my thoughts for the last four weeks. There has never been a circumstance in my life that I couldn't mentally or physically distance myself from...until now...when I can do neither! I wouldn't trade this new mindset for anything...but, it's different, it's unlike anything else, and it's overpowering.
Sleep is a precious commodity that should never be taken for granted. I have never been so tired. And, again, though people say that that's part of this whole thing called "new parenthood", it's not something you can entirely prepare yourself for. I was certainly well-rested leading up to Emerson's birth, and I'm confident that being caught up on sleep helped me through the rigors of labor. And, perhaps, in conjunction with the beautiful hormone that is adrenaline, my being well-rested gave me energy in the early days at home with her. But, the adrenaline does wear off, I'm sorry to report, and the weariness that has taken over now could not be held off by any amount of "storing sleep" beforehand. It really is a different kind of tired from any sleepiness I've ever before experienced. Efforts to "catch up" seem futile. It's a vicious lack-of-sleep cycle.
On a similar note, our bed has never felt so wonderful. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder! Emerson rather prefers to sleep in my arms instead of her bassinet or crib. So, I have spent precious little time in our bed...with the clean sheets...and the fluffy down comforter...and the delightfully-soft mattress...over the past few weeks, due to sleeping/attempting to sleep in the La-Z-Boy recliner in the nursery. However, the midday naps I have been able to enjoy have been incredible, and I value sleep now more than I ever have before. (Update! Since I drafted this post a week or so ago, we've thankfully made progress in this area. Emerson seems to have decided that her crib is, in fact, quite comfortable. I'm cautiously optimistic that my nights in the recliner are behind me.)
I left the house a couple of weeks ago, without Emerson. We had put off a Walmart shop as long as possible. (When the toilet paper supply dwindles, there's really no more procrastinating to be done.) And, besides the lack of food and toiletries, it was just...time...for me to get out of the house for a little while. My mom stayed with Emerson, and I got in the car. I was barely out of the neighborhood before the tears surprisingly came. I cried for a minute or two...in part, because I felt a distance from my baby that I haven't felt in over nine months...in part, because it felt overwhelmingly refreshing to be by myself, out in the world, thinking about a grocery list instead of whether her diaper needed to be changed...and, in part, because I felt a tinge of guilt for enjoying some time away. But, the tears were short-lived, the outing was time well-spent, and greeting Emerson when I got home was a joy.
I have never been so aware of my body's capabilities, and frustrated by its limitations. I had a natural and pain medication-free labor and delivery. I knew my body was not only capable, but was created for such a task. I'm proud of myself for trusting God's design and accomplishing what I did with His care, and I would (and plan to) do it again. I'm thankful for a body that is capable of doing amazing things. On the other hand, I am discouraged by my need to let my body rest. I want to have the energy to keep up with Emerson, to respond to her needs with positivity and a cheerful spirit...and be the one to take care of her all the time. But, I'm tired and my body is constantly begging for more sleep. It's hard to be human at times like this.
Being able to find a bit of time to document this journey via blog is evidence that we're all navigating this new "normal", and adjusting to each other. Although pondering and writing these reflections on the "hard parts" of new motherhood has been helpful, there are so many happy moments to document, too. I'm excited to share!