Monday, October 10, 2011

Turn the tears off, I said not another peep, listen to me: I'm a mom. Period.

Today is the day I officially felt like a nutcase mom.

It was Alice's and my first outing with just the two of us -- we were going to pick up milk from our favorite farmer.  Hearing my daughter whimper in the backseat while I'm stuck in the front seat is a new, rather uncomfortable feeling.  I figured the whimpers were likely due to evil sun-blinding (I still remember that feeling as a kid), so at a stoplight, I reached into the back seat to drape a blanket over her carseat.  Only a few seconds had gone by when the light turned green and the car behind me gave a big HONK.  It was rather startling, and in the midst of my awkward position and rush to get my child comfortable, my mouth instinctually opened and I heard myself yell, "Deal with it, I've got a baby in this car!!" 


It was an eye-opening moment.  A scary moment.  I'm a mom, and I'm going to do weird, momish things that I thought I would never do.  I'm going to say weird, momish things I thought I'd never say.  Yes, I could probably ask my friends and sisters to notify me when they see the mom flowing out of me.  I could try really, really hard to avoid weird phrases and colloquialisms.  I could even avoid stores like TJ Maxx and New York and Company.  But in the end, it's unavoidable -- I am going to, for the sake of my child, scold cars who can't even hear me.  Lesson learned.  Lesson heartily learned, world.  And when one day I look at Alice's crayon art all over the wall and call her "young lady," I'll learn that lesson all over again.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Life as a new mom

Welcome to my first blog post!  Here we go.

I didn’t expect to start everyday around 11am, but with a squirmy wormy who wakes you up throughout the night with screaming demands of a full belly, waving goodbye to mornings is just how life has been for the past 4 weeks (I can’t believe my baby is a month old!).

With that said, it is now noon, so I’ve really gotten a jump on the day, having already sat down to write! ;) Anyway, I’m here to share my life as a new mom -- what I expected, what I didn’t expect, and all experiences therein.

Unexpected: Emotions
I’ve never been a person who has enjoyed being subjected to her emotions. However, soon after giving birth, floods of emotions did not simply come and go but they immediately became a part of me. Learning how to respond to these emotions is something I’m still doing, but there is so much to figure out in this huge, new stage of life! I have a baby to love and a husband to love, a home to take care of and welcome people into, dinner to fix, errands to run (those errands have only happened in the evening when daddy is home), and a smile to put on my face in the midst of all the newness. As an overly-analytical thinker, I am slow to adjust to the complexities of any life change, but babies don’t wait on your time, and being thrust into a world of fast-paced change just puts my emotions running into a blur of, “How do I do this, how do I WANT to do this, can I do it how I want, when do I say no, when do I say yes,” and any other number of thoughts/feelings. And speaking of feelings, some are stronger than others…

Expected: Mother Bear
Yup. I’m a protective mother bear and it’s kind of annoying. Before having a child, I always stood back in awe of the mothers who could simply let their baby be passed around, messed with, talked to at different levels of loud-ness, and generally just messed with. I would think to myself, “Am I going to have a magical feeling of freedom come over me when I’m a mom, that allows me to thrust my precious baby into the hands of other people?” Because, by all appearances, most mothers experienced this magical feeling. That magical feeling didn’t come. At all. I am learning to let my little baby be handed off and “let go of,” literally and figuratively (even if I don't especially love the way she’s being handled). Generally, I operate best in small groups of people and, not surprisingly, that applies to how I handle my baby being handled… when there’s a small group, I’m calm and things feel in control. When there’s a large group and she’s being passed, bounced, adjusted, and touched, I often want to jump up, grab Alice, and run -- ridiculous but true. Some people just don’t handle your baby the way you would. It’s not necessary to be completely willy nilly, easy breezy, “whatever goes” -- but to some extent, I want to be more laid back with my child. This, I’m sure, will get extraordinarily easier with every child I have.

Unexpected: Expectations
So I knew I would have expectations. People besides mom have expectations for baby! Who knew, right? I’ve quickly learned that my expectations need to be thrown out the window, as I am subjected to the wills of an unpredictable, rather irrational baby. But as a first-time mom, people seem to think you need to be told how things must be done. I know I need help (so much help!), but I also know I must figure things out on my own. Advice from strangers, family, friends, is a constant that I’m learning how to respond to. New mommies require patience from all corners of life -- I myself need patience toward Alice and toward friends, and I also need the patience of others, as new mom and dad figure all of this out. Every couple is different and every baby is different, and learning how we as a family operate is a new adventure -- expectations just get in the way of how life is supposed to fall into place.

Expected and unexpected: Feeding
I knew that nursing Alice would be a time-consuming activity that would take some adjustment. However, Alice came out of the womb with a tiny body and a tiny mouth whose strength is not enough to suck at the breast, requiring her to bottle-feed. I never expected to be attached to a machine, pumping every-other hour throughout the day. It is time-consuming and exhausting. Every two or three hours, I stop whatever I’m doing, clean the pump pieces, sit next to the pump, and think about the things I would be doing, had pumping not been a requirement. Not only is it an interruption to my day, but it necessarily must be coordinated into my schedule -- pumping with a fussy baby next to you, and hands too busy to calm her, is no fun. I try to get pumping out of the way while Alice is napping, but that obviously doesn’t always work. Not to mention, I must coordinate the timing of guest’s arrival to when I need to pump next. It also creates extra dishes to wash in our dishwasher-less kitchen, with all of the bottles that need attention. All in all, it’s no fun, and I look forward to when Alice is able to nurse in the completely organic way it’s “supposed” to be. I do try to always create an environment for her that is as if I am breastfeeding -- if we’re out in public, I seek a place that’s as private as possible, if daddy is home, we sit near daddy and talk while she sucks away at her bottle, if guests are over, we retreat to her nursery. Mommy-baby feeding time is so important, so even though it’s not as I expected, I try to make it as close to the “real thing” as possible. And I know that Alice’s little body will thank me for it someday, too!

Unexpected: Abounding love for my husband
I read in one woman’s blog that her love for her husband grew after the birth of their first child. This struck me, and I wondered if I would discover it to be true for me, as well. Um, it was so true, and how could it not be true?! Watching your husband care for your little baby as he gently changes her diaper and rubs her belly to calm her. Hearing him talk sweetly to her. Simply watching him be dad is -- excuse my sappiness -- the most precious thing ever. When he comes home from work, I know that he has worked for us, and that makes the simple pleasure of serving him dinner an utter joy. Because of this tiny, helpless baby, we are growing as a couple and it is marvelous! Difficult at times, mind you, but altogether marvelous.

Having a baby is work, but absolutely the most enjoyable, rewarding work there is. I already can’t wait to have more! She grows and changes everyday, and my love for her grows, too. I love getting to know her little personality and watching her hilarious expressions. She is so dependent on me, which is somehow the most endearing thing of all.

I know I have plenty more expectations hiding behind the corners of my mind, and I’m sure to discover them as she grows and, in turn, I grow. Taking care of this sweet little person is the greatest blessing God could give. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them! I want our quiver to be packed.