Life With a Newborn

All right, y’all, I had a baby!

Sebastian is 3 weeks and 3 days and I am finally writing a few words of reflection as he sleeps in my lap (because if I put him down, he’ll wake up sooner). After three weeks of very little sleep and lots of visitors, I’m grateful to finally have a bit of time to attempt to capture what has been going on in my head during this time of transition. My hubby and a good friend from Denver have gone to Telluride to ski today – after making sure all my needs were met ( more than he’s been able to do while rushing off to work) – and Sebastian has hardly been fussing at all the past couple of days,  so I can finally think.

Honestly, a lot of the time, I haven’t really had much going on in my head. I had a lot going through my head the first several days, but then the endless sleeplessness numbed it out of me. One rare peaceful moment this past week when hubby, baby, and I were cuddling on the couch after he returned from work and made us dinner again – or did we eat take-out again that night? – I marveled to him that I don’t feel a whole lot different as I would have expected to. I still feel like me (not like a mom). I sometimes felt this way when I was pregnant too, just like a completely normal me. But when pregnant, especially towards the end, there were definitely days, or times of day, when I felt different. Days when I felt special, important, because I was carrying another life within me. Days when I didn’t mind the waddling and aching and having reflux, because it was all for the purpose of bringing my baby into the world.

And then suddenly one day, the pregnancy is over, he is on the outside of me, and I’m fumbling to get my nipple into his mouth in a way that will satiate his newly hungry belly without killing me – trying desperately to get that “good latch.” Now I finally know what it feels like to nurse, and to have leaking milk ooze down my side and puddle on my clothes, before I can find something to mop it up with, while he impatiently bobs his head back in forth in front of my breast. I’m experiencing things that I had heard would happen to me, but I never understood what it would actually be like until they did.

That’s what new motherhood is all about. You hear about the sleepless nights, you hear about the stitches and the breastfeeding (though no one tells you about the leaking, spraying boobs until it’s happening to you), you hear about the not being able to eat or drink anything while it’s still hot, the inability to shower for days, and the milk and spit-up all over your clothes, but you are unable to have any comprehension of these things until it actually happens to you. And  despite all these strange changes, it doesn’t feel all that different. I’m not feeling that overwhelming sense of responsibility I expected to have, or so much love that I fear my heart will break.

Not that I haven’t felt anything. For a while, I felt a lot of frustration and fear that this time of difficult adjustment would never end. But luckily, his fussiness has ebbed, we’ve slept a bit more, and I’m feeling the calming effects of the breastfeeding hormones that I’ve been reading about.

And thank goodness for that! Last night we went out to a restaurant for the first time to meet a friend of a friend – another coincidental contact in this small town. I was able to eat the bad bar food, drink half a beer, and balance Sebastian on my lap to nurse under a cover, while keeping up with the conversation, and the whole time I felt  mellow.

And I’m thankful for that mellowness, because I had been stressed about having yet another visitor this weekend instead of just getting to hang out with Tim and the baby as a new family (his parents came for a weekend the day after we got back from the hospital, then my mom came for 10 days, then he was on-call all the next weekend, then our good friend from Denver came….). But this visit has been great! I’ve gotten to feel like my pre-baby self, hanging out with a friend I made before I got pregnant, and she hasn’t shown a lick of weirdness about my leaking boobs.

It worked out great too, because she came a day early and is leaving Sunday morning so I will get to have the rest of the day with just Tim and the baby (and the dog – Casey, we haven’t forgotten about you). I’ll get to cuddle and reflect more tomorrow and get ready to post the big birth story post.

A Post About Social-Anxiety Doesn’t Need A Photo

I still suffer from the belief that every post needs a picture – and I still don’t know where we packed the camera charger!

See, this blog was supposed to be a show-case of the things I manage to succeed in doing and an illustration of the realities that go on behind closed doors. Most of the time the rooms of my house are in disarray and I loath getting dinner on the table. I want to document the chaos and the processes I use to conquer each pile at a time. I want to document the bread pudding that turned out great, despite a couple of huge mistakes, that I then left out all night and had to throw away because my husband won’t risk food poisoning, especially since I’m pregnant.

But this blog should also be a reflection of my inner journey, and for that I don’t need photos.

So what have I been up to during my long silence? I’ve been settling in to the new town, SLOWLY unpacking, and doing some private writing.

Lately I’ve been reflecting on how much better this major life-transition has been, compared to the last one three years ago. At that time I had finished graduate school, gotten married, and moved from the Midwest to Denver. And I didn’t have a job line-up. It’s hard to be a participator in life when you’re caught up inside yourself, listening to yourself tell the same-old stories about your past, and your struggles, and why who are different from other people. And the stress of all those life changes happening at once, turned me into a wreck. My obsessive negative-thinking and social-anxiety were magnetized by 1000. I experienced culture shock and didn’t want to drive anywhere. I experienced agony  each time we were supposed to go anywhere where we had to interact with our new peers.

I experienced an inside-myself feeling  that brought me close to tears each time I was forced to interact with others. The, I am barely getting by each day alone in my house without having to put on appropriate attire and talk to strangers around a Bar-B-Que, feeling. First there is the intense feeling that my clothing, make-up, shoes, and jewelry are inadequate – because I just don’t know how to harness the power of that stuff. Then there is the inevitable “What do you do?” question. I’ve gotten better and better at all of that stuff, but when it’s all you can do to take a shower and force yourself to cook meals, how do you shine yourself up for a public appearance and be relaxed about it?

It’s a relief to have become happy, comfortable in my own skin. I can’t describe that shaky, swimming around inside myself feeling that was sometimes quite literal, when I wasn’t balancing my meds properly, and sometimes simply caused by my emotions. During that time, I was unable to concentrate on what people were saying fast enough to formulate responses. Then I’d be so busy obsessing over what I should have said, that I’d miss the rest of the party. There were times when I was fighting back tears every time I had to open my mouth to respond to another human being. Just terrified of people. It is such a horrible way to live. If you only knew what that was like, you’d want to stay safe in the cocoon of your home too. Never initiating social contact, and nearly falling apart every time you accepted a lunch invitation. I lived so many years of my life that way. But moving to Denver it was really emphasized because there were so many of us in the same shoes, arriving in this new city, needing to make new friends; socializing was necessary and expected.

Anyway, now here I am in the midst of another huge life transition, pregnancy and a big move to a new city (small-town – another culture-shock), and I’m doing great with it. I think this is a result of cleaning up my thinking. I’m comfortable with being uncomfortable. I know that it always passes. I don’t care so much if people don’t take to me right away, or if it seems that the rest of the world (AKA the women around me) are involved in some choreographed dance that I’m not a part of. I used to think that dance was what I was supposed to be doing and that there was, of course, as always, something wrong with me because I didn’t know and couldn’t seem pick up the steps. But I don’t believe that anymore. I now think that other people have baffling interests and needs that I’m pleased not to be bothered with. They get off on doing that. That’s great. I get off on reading, thinking, writing, and spending time with my husband. That doesn’t mean I don’t like them or want to hang out with them from time to time, or have girl time – I do, and I will. But, all this stuff that they do, that I don’t, I can let it go.

And I’m sure part of it is age. I’m relieved not to have to contend with the energy of those in their early- and even mid- twenties anymore. The boundless, work hard, play hard, exercise, party, socialize, ethic. Now people the people I meet are more settled and chill. If they do have boundless energy, they package it up into self-contained adventurous outdoor activities, such as mountain climbing, and rafting, that happen outside of my presence.

The bottom line is, although I’ve been blog-silent, I’m doing well. I’ve been proactive about my mental-health and it’s paid off. I’m still well in the midst of transition, and that will probably continue to interrupt my blogging for awhile. But in time, I’ll be back in full-swing.

If you’re curious to know how I managed to clean up my thinking and get over the extreme social-anxiety, that, my dears, will take another post.