My friend Jenn sent me this article about new motherhood, and I found I could relate up until the point the writer starts in about how she has forgotten the incredibly lonely, panicked days, where you should be on "cloud nine" but you are really on like cloud negative infinity and wondering if you can ever claw your way back to feeling like a normal person. That was me. To top it off because (good or bad) I like to try to come off like I have things all together, which is merely a facade because I have no idea what's going on most of the time, having people recognize that I wasn't on cloud nine and basking in the the joy of new motherhood brought me this enduring shame. I remember something my good friend Kate said to me, and I'm not bringing this up to make her feel badly, but after visiting me one day she was worried that I regretted having a baby. After reading that I cried thinking that if that is the vibe I was giving off I must be not only a terrible mother but a terrible human being.
It took me maybe an entire year or more to finally come to terms with my new role as a mother. In the beginning I loved my child and hated my sleep deprived life in equal measure. I was ashamed that I wanted to ignore my baby crying secretly hoping my husband would get up and take care of her. I felt isolated feeding her in the middle of the night while everyone else was sleeping peacefully in their beds. I did not enjoy those first several months as much as most new moms claim to.
Unlike the writer of that article, those days are still in sharp focus and I am terrified of the repeat experience. It wasn't amnesia that made me decide it was time for #2, but more the overwhelming pressure that if there was even a slim possibility that I would look back and regret not having a sibling for #1, I better have another one before both #1 and I get too old. I am terrified of those feelings or lack thereof of loving being a mom as much as society seems to think I should and even more terrified of having to tell people that I love it because that is what I am supposed to do when in reality I felt so alone and had a difficult time adjusting in addition to the long physical recovery.
But thankfully, I don't feel like this mom, who said in the Daily Mail article that having two children is the biggest regret of her life. I may lack some maternal instincts or the mothering gene or whatever it is that makes people bask in the blissful sleep deprived joy of new motherhood. I may never be good at getting the part straight for her pigtails and yesterday I may or may not have had to bribe her to go to bed by letting her look at my poop in the toilet, but despite the rough start I do not for a minute regret having Little Miss J. She brings me so much joy every single day. I've adjusted to no happy hour, going to bed at 8:00 p.m., waking up at 5:00 a.m. and always making sure I have crayons and Kleenex in my purse. This is the new normal. While I didn't find the actual birth much of a miracle, I do think that it is pretty amazing that I made such a sweet, cute, and funny little person (with a little help from my husband of course).
So maybe like an elephant, I still remember those days where I had thoughts that Little Miss J would have been better without me and how awful those days were. But at least this time around, I have proof that it gets better.