“I just want to feel like myself again,” I told my husband tearfully at night when he returned from work. After having my daughter and entering the foreign land of motherhood, I struggled to adjust to my new responsibilities, schedule, and life.
As a former high school English teacher, I was used to spending my days with children. I naively thought that managing with a single, prepubescent child, who lacked the cognitive processing and oral expression skills required to disagree with me, would be challenging but easier than my primary occupation. I could not have been more wrong.
It is true – babies do not disagree. When they are displeased, they mew their displeasure for hours until the mind almost forgets the tranquil sound of silence. Because of the new mother hormones coursing through my veins, the sound was almost painful to hear and drove me to a frenzy of nursing, burping, walking, gently bouncing, rocking, singing, until my nipples numbed, my new mommy thigh chub nearly blistered, and my daughter’s tiny, colicky five pound frame felt bricks in my arm. The idea of being well rested felt like a heavenly dream from some other lifetime where I didn’t permanently sport a messy top knot and smell like sour milk.
Gone were slow cups of coffee, swanky restaurants, and stylish outfits. I subsisted on energy bars eaten on the sly, five-minute cat naps, and sad salty tears. I regularly marveled that this new mom nightmare was kept the down low. I personally felt like issuing a public service announcement and passing of buckets of condoms: “Do not have sex. You run the risk of producing a tiny eating, pooping, and screeching blob that will suck the sunshine from your life.”
Don’t get me wrong – I love my daughter, but there wasn’t much sunlight during those dark early days.
Slowly, though, things became easier as I began to learn more about my new occupation as a mother: I moved my daughter into my bed to help regulate her body temperature, I regulated my diet to address the colic, and I established some evening routines that helped her to relax and sleep longer.
My tiny blob grew and began smiling and cooing at me in the morning, and suddenly, my old life lost its appeal. Hauling her around all day in her infant carrier stopped feeling like an encumbrance, and it started to feel normal. I stopped crying at night and started smiling back at her. How could I not? Now, almost eight months later, I can’t imagine a life that isn’t peppered with warm snuggles, brilliant toothless grins, or soft appreciative cooing after a feeding. It’s my new normal, and I love it.