Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Baby Love, Baby Blues

November is two weeks old as of yesterday- my birthday. Having a Halloween birthday has always been a great excuse to go all-out; dress up, drink up, and party. This year I stayed home eating Thai takeout while holding my new baby and watching How I Met Your Mother. It was relaxing and wonderful, even though the sight of dressed-up kids and twenty-somethings roaming the streets made me nostalgic. I just need to remember how much fun our future Halloweens will be when we take November trick-or-treating! And I got a wonderful gift this year; my little daughter!
Life has been full of ups and downs these past two weeks. It's been amazing getting to know this new little life and learning how to be parents and feeling my love for her grow every day. I expected all this; the joy, excitement, love, confusion. I even expected the sleeplessness. What I didn't expect was the emotional toll known as the 'baby blues.'
You read it in all the books, but I really feel like it's understated. And no one ever talks about it. Either the baby blues are rare, or most people would rather gloss over the experience, especially after things get easier and the blues take a back seat. Well, I would like to share my experience as it is.

These early weeks are wonderful, of course. But they are also very challenging. It starts with the lack of sleep. Especially with nursing on-demand, and around the clock, there's not a lot of time for sleep, much less solid, quality sleep. Add to that the fact that this baby dislikes her bassinet and will awaken within minutes of putting her down and will only sleep in our bed cuddled close to mommy, plus her desire to sometimes nurse nonstop, resting only ten or twenty minutes between feedings, and you've got an overwhelmed and over-tired new mommy. Now, it's not always that bad; sometimes she sleeps in 4 hour chunks through the night, which is wonderful in comparison. But those times when I'm awake from 2am to 6am without a wink of sleep are so draining and frustrating that it brings me to delirious tears. I can't help but wonder if I'm doing something wrong when she nurses for almost 12 hours straight, aside from a couple 2 hour naps here and there. And the pain! My poor bruised and abused nipples! I miss my old, non-swollen, non-painful boobs!
But I also need to remember what they say: baby knows what she needs in those early weeks, and sometimes baby needs more food! Another frustrating adjustment is my lack of freedom. As I type, I am laboriously using only one hand. Since November prefers being held constantly, it's rare that I have both hands free. I actually MISS doing the dishes and laundry! But this is another thing that I'm sure will get easier. I'm already adapting to one-handed tasks, and soon I'm sure she will warm up to her swing and bouncy chair, giving mommy some freedom. And someday outings will get easier! It is quite the production to get out the door, even just to go to the store! November needs to be fed and not fussy, I like to shower at some point, Kitsune needs to be walked...

All these frustrating things are a taxing adjustment, and sometimes I just need to cry. But I know it will get easier. My boobs won't hurt forever. November will someday require less frequent feedings. Someday she will sleep through the night. Someday she will nap in her crib for a couple hours instead of a couple minutes. Outings will become second nature. I'll have time to clean and do laundry. And before I know it the newborn phase will be over and I'll actually miss the warmth of her tiny body snuggling on my chest.
This morning I awoke after a terrible night of (lack of) sleep and near-constant nursing. I opened my eyes and November was looking right at me with her big curious eyes, and smiling. I know they say newborn smiles are the result of nothing but the passing of gas, but that doesn't make them any less beautiful or heartwarming. Because when I awoke to that cute little smile, I suddenly didn't care that I was still tired. It didn't matter that I had been up for hours and crying in frustration. All that mattered was getting up and starting my day with my baby. I know there will be a lot more tears, sleepless nights, painful and nonstop feedings, but there will also be more smiles.

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