Friday, March 5, 2010

Newborns

I have shocking news. I am not a big fan of newborns. Well at least not of newborns who previously resided in my uterus. And while the population of newborns that have fit that description is exactly one, I am not yet inclined to change my view despite the knowledge gained from a college epidemiology class telling me that case studies of one individual are not at all reliable.

Those early weeks with Jillian were incredibly tough. I was overcome with sleeplessness. After a lengthy hospital stay where I got no sleep, I came home with a baby who cried incessantly allowing me no sleep. Then when she would finally drift off for a few minutes, I would find that my mind was racing making it impossible to sleep. The only way I could find to keep her asleep for any significant duration was to hold her. So I slept with her in my arms in the recliner all night long for a few weeks until the discovery of the swing where she slept for the next several months.

I remember the doubts that crept into my head. That I couldn't handle it. That I would never be a good enough parent. That my failure to breast feed would permanently scar her and leave her with a subpar immune system. That this cycle of no sleep, feedings, and diaper changes would go on and on forever. It wasn't depression. It felt more like hyper anxiety. All my senses were on high alert, and I could not calm down. I wore ear plugs to sleep at night because every little sound she made would wake me.

People came over to help, which was nice. But in truth I didn't really want their help. I wanted to do it on my own. It was hard to feel comfortable in my own house when others were there. While their intentions were to help, having guests made me feel like I needed to entertain.

Advice came from everybody. From family. From friends. From the doctor. The internet. From books. However it seemed that Jillian did not follow anybody's advice. And she certainly had not read any of the same books that I had.

What I expected was a baby who slept for a couple hours, woke up to eat, got a diaper change and would fall asleep. I expected some crying...but not what felt like hours of inconsolable crying. I expected a baby that would sleep in their crib. I expected to breast feed. I expected it to be hard...but not that hard. I expected that when I was tired and the baby was asleep, that I would have no problems falling to sleep.

For me, taking care of a newborn was a stressful and thankless job. Sure she was adorable. Sure I loved her more than anybody else in the world. But the endless diapers and feedings coupled with the lack of sleep and self-doubt were all consuming.

Then one day she began to smile. And then she began to bat at a toy in her play gym. And then she laughed. And laughed and laughed and laughed. Slowly she became interactive. The crying spells tapered off. She slept for longer periods of time. I slept for longer periods of time and even without ear plugs. Taking care of her was no longer just work...it was fun! Every day I grew to love her more and more.

Sometimes I see posts from new moms on blogs or on Facebook. They rave about how much they love their precious newborn baby and how wonderful being a new mom is. They seemingly enjoy the sleep deprivation and explosive diapers. I am tempted to reply by saying "I call bullshit". And if they aren't lying, then I'm insanely jealous.

As we near Hayden's birth, these memories come flooding back to me. By comparison, pregnancy is much easier for me. If it were possible to keep her inside for a 4th trimester, I most surely would.

Don't get me wrong. I am excited to meet Hayden. I feel overwhelmingly blessed to be having two little girls. But I know what to expect. Or rather, I know better than to set expectations because she will surely defy them. I suspect that I'll have less anxiety about my ability to be a mom, and that I'll know better the temporary nature of this situation. Of course those worries will be replaced by new ones as I worry about the impact on Jillian and try to divide my attention between the two.

Just under two months left. I'm both excited and nervous.

13 comments:

Heather said...

I felt the same way. The first (at least six weeks probably closer to two months) bit is HARD. I didn't know the difference in her cries. I was so sleep deprived I didn't think straight. I just wanted a shower and like four hours of interrupted sleep...

Barb said...

YES.

And oh no sweetie. You didn't see too many of those posts from me. ugh. I had a very very difficult time adjusting, and he was very very screamy. It has just now gotten better for me too. I could have written this. And I dont' think I could do it again.

Maybe this baby will be laid back like my cousin's was.

Barb said...

Heather.. YES.. Four hours!! That's all I begged for!

Kelly said...

You will be awesome! Just like you were with Jillian. I agree that those who think bringing home a new baby is the greatest, easiest thing ever is definitely a bullshit! It is hard! Hopefully Miss Hayden will be much easier!

Roadblocks and Roller Coasters said...

Yes, yes, yes. I totally and completely understand.

Sunny said...

You know I hear you, girl. I think I've gotten actually MORE nervous as I'm farther along on bedrest, instead of feeling better. (Of course I'm glad they are baking so long, but knowing they won't be in there much longer is FRIGHTENING!) My friend Deanne -- think you met her at my shower -- is due a couple days after me with her second daughter, and when she starts to get nervous about having another one, she says she thinks of me having twins and it makes her feel better.

So I hope my suffering brings some comfort to you, as well.

Amanda said...

I only vaguely remember the first 6 months of the boys lives. While I was very blessed with boys that didn't usually scream without reason and slept in cribs from night one I still completely understand the whole sleep deprivation. And when they did scream, I had no clue why. Food? Diaper? Cuddles? WTH do you want?!?!?! And would the two of you allow me more than 2 hours of sleep at a time???? I remember that all too well. Every two hours until they were almost 6 months old.

I'm hoping wishing and praying Hayden is one of those miraculous babies that sleeps many hours at a time in her crib and only cries when there's a valid reason!!

Jamie said...

Oh, yes. I remember looking at him in his bed and thinking, "You are such a little tyrant!! And you have only been here a week!!"

But it all changed once he starting giving my that gummy smile. At least then I felt like he liked me instead of only tolerating me because I had boobs.

It ~is~ hard. Unfortunately, all you can say is 'hang in there.' And it would so piss me off when people would say that but it's the truth. I just wished they could have told me what to do in the mean time.

Anonymous said...
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Curt said...

Just let those maternal instincts kick in and it'll take care of it. It's always amazing what you can do when you're essentially forced.

Nicky said...

People who say that they enjoy the newborn thing are lying. I remember taking LL for a walk when he was ~8 weeks old, and a woman stopped us and said, "Oh, how cute, don't you just LOVE this age?!?" And I wanted to slap her and yell, "Are you KIDDING me?!?"

I definitely want a second child, but I'm viewing those first 3 (um, maybe 6) months as just what I have to "get through" to get to the good part.

jenn said...

Looking back- I definitely enjoy the past 6-ish months much more than the first! Although she has had personality from the start- there were so many tough times (and not just baby tough- but other life stuff tough) that I am not looking forward to repeatingthat. Of course- in the moment I was most likely one of ~those~! ;)

Cece said...

Not shocking. Newborns SUCK. Maggie is finally smiling - but thank god for Cam who reminds me that 'this too shall pass' when I'm up again at 2 Am feeding a crying baby. Sigh.