So I was lying in bed the other day, looked over beside me, and was like, "Whoa! Where did this baby come from?" Then I fed him (again) and changed his diaper (again). This has pretty much become my life: I am a food production unit and I wipe another human being's poop from his cute little butt. And I try to make him fall asleep. Then when he's sleeping, I miss him and want him to wake up.
I have "omg I have a baby" moments like this occasionally, and the emotion behind them ranges from ecstasy to terror: 1) I have a son. MY SON. He's so perfect, so amazing, with tiny little real human parts all of which I must kiss. 2) What have I done? I have to take care of him all the time FOREVER and I can't change my mind and why is he alive so much?
Luckily #1 mostly wins.
I think before having a baby I had all these preconceived notions of what being a mother would be like, what kind of a mother I would be, and how I would still be me, still have a life, and somehow (still?) be cool. Like I wouldn't change, my life wouldn't really change, I would just have this cool baby now. But just like my preconceived notions of what pregnancy would be like, the reality of it is more overwhelming. I mean, in both cases - pregnancy and motherhood - I had a decent knowledge base and second-hand experience to build on, but experiencing it yourself is totally different.
Unexpected things about pregnancy:
1. The extent of morning sickness: All day. Every day. For four months. With bonus mild nausea until the bitter end.
2. Loss of mental prowess: SO tired. Forgetful. Unable to focus. SO slow. And tired, did I mention?
3. Food and smell aversions. Beloved Indian food turning my stomach.
4. How close I would feel to Abe without ever seeing him, how much I would know him and love him.
And yes, I know these are all things that you commonly hear pregnant women experience. I am stereotypical! But just hearing about them does not do them justice. The experience is so much stronger and baffling.
Unexpected things about having a baby:
1. Crazy protectiveness. I am not a violent person, but for this baby, I will kill a man. You best step off! Keep your mitts off my kid! And other exclamations! Seriously. I will kill you. With my bare hands.*
1a. Crazy protectiveness leads to crazy paranoia. During the first couple of weeks after Abe was born, I would jump any time someone knocked on the door. When he slept, I would constantly check to make sure he was still breathing. I was worried that he wasn’t getting enough to eat (yes, yes, I know he’s huge, but still!). Etc, etc. I thought I’d be a lot more laid back!
2. Buying into the hype. Before he was born, I looked at the suggested baby registry items, read magazines, shopped for baby stuff, and always thought, wow, they are really trying to sell you a bunch of crap you don’t need. Who needs a special pillow for nursing and a special blanket to cover you up? Isn’t a wipe warmer totally frivolous? Electric swing? C’mon…who needs all this stuff? WELL, I DO, THAT’S WHO! Man, all these things that I thought were unnecessary are things that make my life sooo much easier. And right now, that is what I’m all about – ease. At first I felt a little bad, a little guilty, about having so many “gadgets” to raise my baby. But screw that! That’s what technology is for. BRING IT ON!
3. Breaking my convictions. Along with buying baby gadgets, I have done several other things that I swore up and down I would not do when I had a baby. Disposable diapers. (The environment groans.) Pacifier. (Eegads!) Baby Bjorn instead of a sling. (Well we tried the sling, actually, and Abe kind of hates it for some reason. So this change is legit.) Carrying him around in public in the car seat instead of in my WARM, MOTHERLY ARMS. Well I will say it again – EASIER. Seriously, if that baby falls asleep in his car seat, I am not taking him out for anything. I have occasional spasms of guilt for these things as well, but mostly I am accepting/don’t have time to think about it.
4. Nursing is hard. I thought based on it being normal and natural and seeing my mom nurse with ease for years that this was kind of a no-brainer. BABY, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? THIS IS NOT THAT COMPLICATED. Well we got it goin’ smooth now, but it was rough for a while. (PS – Dumb ol’ amazing mom, making everything baby-related look easy. I was tricked!!)
5. MUST he nurse so often? I feel like a cow!
6. Nursing him is amazing. Staring into his eyes as he’s cuddled up against me. Watching him fall asleep. I love it!
*Bet you didn’t know I had bear hands, did you?**
**Oh, ho, ho, that joke never gets old! My baby has bear hands too! And often bear feet! And when I change him, he has a bear bottom! Ahaha. But don’t worry, I don’t let him go outside with a BEAR HEAD! Oh man. I crack myself up.