I'm so happy to report that it's 10:21 AM as I write this post, and I'm sitting at my kitchen table with a cup of coffee while my dog AND my son sleep (one at my feet, one in a motorized-robot-swing in the next room. You can decide which is which.).
It's good to be me right now.
There is so much to report, so much to say about the last few weeks of life in the Scott house. The short version is, December 15, we had a baby boy. His name is Mac, and he is amazing, and I have already become the person who posts way too many pictures of their kid. It is here that I will invite you to be patient with me, because, I'm learning, it is actually impossible NOT to be obsessed with your child.
Or at least, that's my experience.
So it turns out that motherhood is a REALLY BIG FREAKING DEAL and changes pretty much everything about the way you live your life. A full 24-hours a day at this point (yes, all 24) are spent either getting ready to feed Mac, feeding him, burping him, or thinking about the next time I'm going to feed him. He's an animal and eats like one. Time is a commodity that I never knew the limits of - at least not in this particular way - and so the three-ish hour stretches when he's sleeping are of crucial importance now. Sleep when the baby sleeps? Good joke.
I've been thinking a lot about the ways in which I'm trying to keep my head screwed on in this new season of "Your Boob Is Permanently Tied To Another Human Being," and all the anxiety that can go along with my new schedule, new identity, and new responsibilities. That anxiety has the potential to drown me in its rip tide if I'm not careful, and anyone who's been a new mother knows exactly the feeling I mean.
But the truth is, at least for now, I feel pretty great.
My recovery is going well, my baby is so sweet and snuggly, and, though I'm definitely sleep-deprived, I'm really happy most of the time. Sure, I cry every few days about something completely ridiculous, but come on. I'm pumped full of more hormone than Jane Fonda. So I thought I'd share some things I'm doing to combat that that overwhelmed, crazed feeling in hopes that it'll help another new mama out there reading, and, if not, will serve for hilarious reading material when the other shoe drops at some point.
1. Do something "normal" every day.
Every morning during Mac's 9-12 nap, I get a shower, do my hair, do my makeup, and make my bed. Those four things are a myst for me every day. I have never been a person who leaves the house without makeup, earrings, or my hair done, and being a new mom wasn't going to turn me into that person. There's nothing wrong with that, of course - what I'm trying to say is that there for me, there needed to be some carryover from who I was pre-baby to who I am post-baby, and those things allow me to bridge that chasm. The house might be a disaster, there may be spit-up all over my shirt within 5 minutes, but having this small morning ritual makes me feel like ME and allows me to tackle what's happening on any given day with a little more sense of self.
2. Remember that everything comes in waves.
Of course, this may not be applicable if you're someone who is suffering from post-partum depression, in which case my heart bleeds for you and I am here to talk if you need an ear. Because DAMN being a new mom is hard work. There is not a thing wrong with feeling bluesy or overwhelmed or any of that, so please hear this is as my own experience and not a rule of thumb for everyone.
If you're having an experience like mine that is less post-partum-y and more "generally overwhelmed about every 5 hours," then this one's for you.
It's been really important to remind myself that everything comes and goes when it comes to these first few weeks. The baby WILL eventually stop crying. The house WILL eventually be cleaner. I WILL eventually not feel like the world is caving in on me.
In moments when I find myself crying or overwhelmed about something that wouldn't normally overwhelm me (ex. Jordan takes longer than 5 minutes to respond to a text message and I need help RIGHT NOW and the dog is barking because there's a car that just drove by and Mac is crying because he just blew out his diaper - just for example, you know) I try to take a deep breath and remember that there will be an end point to this moment of insanity. It sounds small, but it really helps me refocus and not get totally swept away in what seems like an endless sea of things to worry about.
3. Keep in mind that you're probably doing a great job.
Hey, guess what?
If you've had a baby recently, you are INCREDIBLE. Seriously. Not in the "weird Instagram affirmation you scroll past and dismiss kind of way" - you are TRULY amazing. Let's talk about why:
- Because your body has just GROWN A HUMAN LIFE.
- Because now your body is capable (whether you're breastfeeding or not) of sustaining that life with food it makes BY ITSELF.
- Because, if you are breastfeeding, your boobs are a war zone, as are other parts of your body that we shall not discuss here in polite company.
- Because you have to get up in the middle of the night and still be a decently friendly and pleasant person the next day.
- Because you're navigating a world of having a totally different body than you had before, and probably aren't able to exercise yet, and look at yourself in the mirror only to find that you don't recognize that person.
- Because breastfeeding hurts like a bitch and is really, really hard (but worth it, in my opinion - but also, really hard at first).
- Because there are 1,000 different opinions about anything you might choose to Google frantically in the middle of the night.
And for a million other reasons.
Ancient man did not have Google, and we still survived as a species. I'm trying to trust my instincts and just do what feels right, and I encourage you to do the same. It's impossible to be perfect. There's no such thing. I caught myself freaking out the other day because Mac was 15 minutes off on his sleep schedule. ARE YOU KIDDING ME, LADY, GET A GRIP. (This is what I said to myself in the mirror.)
Basically what I mean is, it's just all going to be okay. Take a breath. You are probably absolutely killing it. If your child is breathing, fed, clothed, and feels loved, congratulations.
4. Set boundaries for visitors.
This is actually a piece of advice that one of our mother/baby nurses in the hospital gave me, and it's brilliant. Set hours for people to come see you in the first few weeks after the baby is born. We went with 12-2 because that's after Mac's lunchtime feeding and he'll probably be asleep.
I threw this out the window last week and accepted people at all times of the day, one day seeing two separate sets of visitors during nap time, and it was a disaster for both Mac and for me. We were exhausted and cranky and I remembered why I had set those boundaries in the first place. Trust. This is a game-changer.
Also, you don't have to let people hold the baby if the baby is asleep. Also a lesson from experience.
5. Ask for help, then accept the help without feeling guilty.
Yeah, so you can't do this by yourself. Ya just can't. No one can.
The amount of meals that have been delivered/paid for to our house is staggering and completely necessary for our survival. My mom doing our laundry and cleaning our house has been essential. Jordan doing skin-to-skin with Mac every morning (before he went back to work) so that I could have some coffee and breakfast was crucial.
I do not like asking for help, and, as I bet you Southerners can relate to, I feel incredibly guilty accepting help. I want to do it all on my own and people's generosity overwhelms me and shames me. But this is a moment to embrace the community in my life and understand that people are offering these things out of pure love, not expecting to be paid back or thanked promptly. This especially goes for the women in my life, who've surrounded me in a way that is so emotionally and logistically supportive that I feel humbled every single day.
Special shout out here to my mother, who has cooked, laundered, cleaned, folded, ironed, shopped, fed, decorated, re-decorated, burped, rocked, walked, played, and generally spoiled every human and canine member of this family for the last 2 months. There is no way to explain the debt of love and gratitude I owe her.
Get an April in in your life.
6. Retain your sense of humor.
This is similar to #3 in its "just keep swimming"-ness, but y'all, so many things about new parenthood are hysterical if you can just laugh at yourself instead of crying.
- Two weeks ago, I was changing his dirty diaper. The second I took it off and removed it from under his little bottom, he pooped EVERYWHERE.
EVERYWHERE. I caught his poop in my hand. "JORDAN! HE'S POOPIN' IN MY HAND! POOPING IN MY ACTUAL HAND! COME HER!"
And just when we thought he was done, another stream shot out. Jordan described it this way: "Like a soft-serve ice cream lever at a Ryan's."
At that point, I was still in the early days of recovery from my C-section, so I couldn't laugh hard because it hurt my incision. Picture Mac pooping everywhere, bewildered and guffawing Jordan standing with a clean diaper, and me with one hand on the changing table (still full of my son's poop), and the other bracing myself on the floor because I had to fold in half to keep my insides from popping out as I was HYSTERICALLY laughing.
That could've been a moment where we decided to just call it and take the baby back to the hospital, but laughing through it made it one of my favorite memories so far.
(The poop is now cleaned up and we're doing okay, but we're still accepting condolences. No flowers, please, you can make your donation to Clorox Bleach in Mac's name.)
All in all, this is a tough and wonderful gig, ladies. I'm learning that it's okay to be a mess, and it's okay to be real about how gritty things can get, and it's okay to talk to people and say, "I am really sad today because I don't feel good at this," or, "I need you to come over and help me," or, "I feel like my hair is really pretty today and I just need to tell someone that. Good for me." And I'm also deeming it okay to be totally over-the-moon ants in your pants crazy about your child, which I (very publicly) am.
It's all okay.
Love you guys. See you soon.
(Oh yeah - here are 800,000 pictures of my beautiful angel child.)