Having a baby: Not that hard for everyone…?
Although my blog may lead you to believe otherwise, I’m actually #1: not a huge complainer and #2: quite satisfied with my decision to have a child. And, I guess I should point out that I’m also #3: NOT on the brink of a major breakdown. Thankfully.
I got a call today from a well-intentioned aunt who expressed her concern for the negativity in my posts. She wanted to check in to “make sure everything was okay” because I sounded “very [pause]…tired.” After a 30-minute conversation consisting mostly of me working to convince her everything was just fine, I started to question two things. (Neither of which was related to whether or not everything was fine—things are not easy, but they also are definitely not too hard to handle.)
The first question I asked myself is if I am, indeed, too negative in my writing. My answer to that was another question: what is too negative? I’ve mentioned it before, but a few reasons I created this blog are to vent, work through my problems, organize my thoughts, and share my experiences with other moms. Although a bitchfest is not exactly what I was aiming for, there are some days that my posts become just that. Sorry. But, writing is my therapy, and I want other moms going through the same to know they’re not alone. I consider myself a positive person by nature. I want to be motivating and cheerful as much as I can. More than that, however, I want to be honest. I don’t want to have to censor what I say…especially considering my goals of writing in the first place.
The other question that came up in my conversation with my aunt stemmed from a suggestion she made multiple times: that my situation is different and more difficult than those of other moms—that it’s not that hard for everyone. Maybe.
In case I haven’t complained enough, I did a bit of reflecting on why my situation may be more challenging than most, and I did come up with a few things.
A terrible c-section. As I was preparing for my all-natural childbirth, enduring the 40+ hours of labor, and pushing for several hours more, the idea of a cesarean frightened me. Yet, since my c-section, I’ve heard stories that are not bad at all. Mine was awful. I couldn’t walk or ride in a car comfortably for over a month. I couldn’t lift baby or move faster than walking without pain for at least three months. It wasn’t until four months postpartum that I was able to get back into any of my exercise routines. Over a year later, I still have pain and swelling on one side of the scar, where the doctors say they “must have pulled the sutures too tight, but there’s nothing we could do.”
No family around. It definitely isn’t easy not having any family within several hundred miles of where we live. Since my son’s birth over a year ago, I’ve had one extended weekend visit from my mom, one week-long visit from my dad, a couple of days with my (aforementioned) aunt, and a few weekend visits from my sister . That’s all. Getting a break means paying a sitter $10+ an hour or hoping that baby can last in the gym nursery long enough for mommy to get some exercise therapy.
High-maintenance baby. My baby has had to be held or entertained nearly every waking minute from the day he was born. For the past year, the only time my son has been content is in my arms; next to me, my husband, his brother, or someone else entertaining him enthusiastically; or when he is sleeping. I look in awe at the babies and toddlers I see who are content in their bouncy chairs, Pack ‘N’ Plays, cribs, Exersaucers, etc. Jacob has never been one of those babies. The most he ever has lasted with any of those (unless asleep) is 10 minutes…usually he cries as soon as we put him down. That translates into no breaks for me. I know, you may say, I should have just left him until he got used to it. We did that and do that…nearly every day…because we have needs (like using the restroom and eating dinner). Jacob is relentless. He cries until he is choking on his snot and covered in a rash. He doesn’t stop until someone picks him up.
In addition to those things, which (arguably) make my life harder than those of other moms, I’m also juggling a full-time job, being a stepmom to a 2nd grader, and dealing with my husband’s work schedule, which requires him to leave before the sun rises and to work evenings and weekends. Last but not least, one of my self-induced sources of “suffering” is that I have a ridiculously high need to be productive. Before baby, I worked out 1 to 2 hours a day; spent several hours a week beading, sewing, and writing; managed to keep the house in order; and worked full-time as a researcher and part-time as a step aerobics instructor and a karaoke disc jockey. I’ve had to cross a few of those things off my to-do list since becoming mommy, and that makes me a little sad.
Normal or not?
But, am I worse off? Who knows? I’m not sure we really can compare. I’m not sure it matters. We all have our complaints, our difficult times, no matter how hard or easy it is from an objective outsider.
Although my aunt can say with conviction that she “rarely experienced the negatives” when it came to having kids, I’m pretty sure there are a lot of moms who beg to differ. Again, whether it’s the norm or the exception, I’m not certain. However, I’ve gotten tens of responses to my last post requesting ideas for ways to make mom’s life easier. That leads me to believe that a good number of mamas think it’s worthwhile to share their tips on easing the hardships of new motherhood.
Anyway, thanks, Aunt Sandy. I appreciate your genuine concern for my sanity. You will make a fantastic grandmother someday (hint, hint to other potential readers of this blog.) And, one more time, let me say that I’m…totally…okay.
As for the rest of you, I think I’m gonna need an extra day or two to organize all the great suggestions for things that work for mamas and babies during the first year. I got more ideas than I expected. Thanks everyone! (Please do keep ’em coming if you have something to add.) More on that soon. Happy 3-day weekend!