It Gets Better: An Essay On The Raw Truths Of Motherhood In Those First Months

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Photo: Not Your Basic Mom

I’ve waited 41 ½ long weeks and alas, she is here. She is beautiful and healthy and I can’t believe she is mine.  After a few nights stay in the hospital, her dad and I get to take her to the home we have spent weeks carefully curating to her every need. 

I. Can’t. Wait. These are going to be the best years of my life. “Enjoy them,” everyone tells me.

My husband has taken four days off work. “That’s plenty,” I tell him. I know I can handle this. As soon as I can walk upright (darn C-section), it will be smooth sailing. Just help me out of the car…

Night two post hospital- Breastfeeding is hard, really hard. Not so much the physical act of feeding her, but the dependency on me for basically everything. I am her lifeline, and her only source of nourishment. I am keeping her alive– just me…

Just me.

Week one is in the books. My days are spent cleaning spit up, and washing onesies. But I often stare at her in my arms (did she just smile at me?), and wonder how I made something so precious. I count down the minutes until my husband gets home from work so I can catch up on sleep. But when he’s home, I want to talk. I want to at least pretend to be normal, like my old self. I ask him about life on the outside, and revisit the conversations he had with co-workers and clients.

Must be nice, I think.

I am bitter and jealous, and of my husband for God’s sake. Why? For going to work while I have to, um get to, stay at home with our new daughter. What kind of terrible person am I to resent these first few weeks with my lovely infant?

Sleep-deprived. That’s what I am. And painfully new to this game. I’m too fresh as a mother to realize that its okay for a baby to cry once in a while. It’s okay if my abdominal scar is too sore to take her out for strolls. It’s okay if my armpits don’t smell fresh as a freaking daisy. It’s ok if I’m not a natural at this motherhood game right off the bat.

A few weeks go by and I’m cooking again. My husband raves about how much he enjoyed his dinner, while I bounce the baby on my shoulder in an effort to calm her. He of course offers to take her, but she isn’t happy that way. He doesn’t have milk free-flowing out of his nipples.

It’s in this moment I feel as if I have no more of myself to give. I have trimmed away any shred of excess vanity, and now I felt stripped down to the core. Is this motherhood? Is this what I have been waiting my entire life to experience?

Yes.

Yes, it is.

Cooking meals you don’t get to enjoy, sacrificing your sleep so your child can eat, giving away your time and energy with no expectance of anything in return. That is motherhood, but only in the beginning. 

 I look back at these memories with both anxiety and appreciation.  No one tells you that in those first few months of motherhood, you will grow and change even more than your infant child. Your emotions will be so jumbled up that you won’t know if you are crying tears of joy or straight up sorrow. You will be stripped away of most of your selfish behaviors, and be forced to let them go. You will miss watching three hour marathons of Real Housewives of New Jersey, but you will be better for it.

Slowly but surely you will piece yourself back together, and this time you will build yourself more carefully with characteristics you would want your daughter to admire. You will learn that cuddle time with your family will trump even the best mani/pedi. And that keeping a healthy mind and body is an important example to set early on. You can still pick and choose your indulgences (wine), but there will be less of them. And that’s ok. 

Nowadays, I am receiving so much more from my little girl than I could even begin to give. Her love for me is unwavering, and oh the snuggles. I am reaping what I have sewn. And let’s get real, it isn’t all smooth sailing. We still have plenty of crying spells and skinned knees. But the days get better, and richer.

The memories of sleepless nights, chapped nipples, and that heavy, heavy feeling of inadequacy are still fairly recent in my mind. The truth is sometimes during those first couple months, motherhood seems grossly overrated. But hang in there momma. It gets better quickly, and so will you.