March 30, 2010

I GROK MOTHERHOOD

Reader TK told me a long time ago that my post on lasik was an "honest account of the procedure."  I thought I'd try to do that for the first month of having a baby too.

Oh, and as an aside, I can't tell you how happy I am that I got lasik now.  I can see my baby in the middle of the night to nurse.  That is worth any money I had to spend and any disappointment I previously felt with my imperfect results.

A year ago, my husband was at SERE school.  We decided that having a baby is my version of SERE: you don't grok it until you've done it.  No matter how much you think you mentally understand what it's like to be starved and beaten, until you go to SERE and experience it, you really can't grok.  That's how I feel about having a baby.  Sure I knew that labor would hurt.  I knew that babies cry and don't sleep through the night.  I knew that my life would get difficult.

I knew it.  But I didn't grok it.

The first days home from the hospital were rough.  And that's an understatement.  I remember weeping frequently.  Wandering around the house in a daze because I had had no sleep at all.  Topless, because my breasts were leaking both milk and blood.  Unable to sit, because my episiotomy hurt so bad that I couldn't sit upright without severe pain.

No one fully explains that to you when they say "being a mother is hard."  Or "childbirth hurts."

My husband remarked that a woman goes through the most pain she will ever experience in her life and simultaneously gets slapped with the biggest responsibility she's ever had.

No one could possibly have helped me grok the sense of frustration and failure I would feel when my baby is in pain, when she gets severe gas, when she projectile vomits several times a day.  How manic I would get, googling over and over to figure out how to breastfeed better so my scabbed and bleeding nipples would heal.  How to prevent and cure her gas.  How to help her calm herself when she's obviously tired but simply won't listen to me when I beg her to just close her eyes and sleep.

I have done this for one month, in a fog of pain and exhaustion.  I cannot believe how hard it is.  I can't believe that most of the women in my life have done this before me and survived.  Without constantly complaining about it.  Because that's what I want to do.

It's getting easier.  Or at least more predictable.  I am starting to distinguish her hungry cry from her tired cry.  I am slowly learning how to fix both.  I no longer panic when she barfs all over me at 1 AM; in fact, I have learned to burp her while standing in the bathtub for an easy clean-up.  And when I jolt awake in serious pain because of a blocked milk duct, I know what to do.  And I push through the pain and feed her because that's what mothers do.

I am learning to be a mother.  It's far harder than I imagined it would be.

And I am now smart enough to grok that it won't get easier, just different.

Posted by: Sarah at 03:56 PM | Comments (18) | Add Comment
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