October 8, 2019By: Sheila
My cousin (first cousin once removed, cousin’s daughter, whatever you want to call it) had a baby a few weeks ago, and I am incredibly jealous. But not for the reasons you might think.
I’m jealous of what she’s experiencing in the first few hours, days, weeks, and months. Because I can’t fully remember what it was like when my son was born. Crazy, right? All the exhaustion, the pain — I want to relive it all.
Maybe this happens with all moms. What I’m about to share. I mean yeah, there’s the complete mental and emotional exhaustion. The sleepless nights on end. All that makes the days run together. So maybe all moms can’t remember a lot from that time? But I really can’t. I don’t know if I just have a horrible memory these days. Which could be–pregnancy brain is real, and it doesn’t stop after the pregnancy.
But you see, I can’t remember a lot more than what the pregnancy brain took away. Is it because those first few nights you are so overwhelmed, sleep deprived, and in pain? I had a c-section, so all those of you who have had one know what the healing is like. It hurts a wee bit. (And taking that first poop afterward is absolutely terrifying, but I digress).
I had my son on a Monday night. We left the hospital on Wednesday afternoon. I remember hurting, but sort of reveling in that pain? Because of what I had just done. I had carried and birthed a tiny healthy human. At the age of 43. Well, I had carried a tiny human for nine months and then he was taken out of me. I call it birthing. Others who are anti c-section call it the easy way out. Whatever, you try it and then tell me how easy it is.
So there’s the recovering from that, and the sleepless nights with a new person that you’re responsible for. But let’s back up – there are those hours in the hospital where even if your child sleeps like an angel, you can’t sleep because people are in and out of your room all night long.
Anyway, my husband and I get home. Seasoned adults at our ages but complete newbies in this whole parenting thing. And my son doesn’t sleep well (that hasn’t changed, fyi). So we didn’t get a lot of sleep those first few days. But that’s to be expected, right?
Or is it because on that Sunday (we got home on the Wednesday), we were back at the hospital in the ER? And I was then subsequently and quickly admitted back to the hospital (same building and floor). I had one procedure done on that next day (Monday), a gall bladder removal surgery on Tuesday, and then home, again, on Wednesday. Luckily we did have friends and family step in and do all they could for us and my son, which I will be eternally grateful for.
So yeah, I missed a few days of my brand new son’s life because I was back in the hospital. And then I came back home and was healing from a c-section and a gall bladder removal. I was the proud of owner of 5 shiny new scars. And let me tell you, if you think healing from one major surgery is fun, try healing from another bonus one added on.
Then your family leaves a couple days after you get home that second time, and your husband has to go back to work THE VERY NEXT DAY because his boss only gave him a week off for the entire year (his main vacation) that he took for the birth of the baby (no daddy leave of any sort) and then took off three more days without permission or pay to take care of me for the second time.
So there I was: new baby just over one week old, just one week post c-section, just a couple of days post gall bladder removal, and alone on an island with my son all day, every day. My husband worked long hours and then got home in the evening and did whatever I needed. He also stayed up with me as I tried to sleep inclined in the living room, us taking turns with the newborn.
And then you’re not even completely healed yet, and your son is still so incredibly new and fragile, and you have to go back to work. I am lucky that I get to work from home, but it was understood that I would either send my son to daycare or hire a sitter so as not to interfere with my work. Granted, I was on conference calls continuously throughout the day, and you can’t take care of a cranky newborn while Skyping about software development.
So I hired a part time sitter to help take care of my son. My thought was that if I could at least hear him laughing, or crying, throughout the day, then I could be a tiny part of his day, right? Then I would race to snuggle him at the end of the work day. And then I would be up most of the night with him (earlier bad sleeper reference).
But my job that I once had liked very much had turned against me. I had had to take on other responsibilities in addition to my regular ones. These were new tasks that weren’t my forte and that I wasn’t comfortable with. But I had to do them anyway. And I was miserable, and angry, and frustrated. I had a new baby – something I had been praying for for an incredibly long time – and I was so incredibly unhappy.
My job was making me sick. I wasn’t the same person, and my personal life suffered an enormous weight because of it. So the first year of his life passed in a haze – torn between being so happy at having this amazing blessing in my life, and being the most unhappy I had ever been in my professional life.
Things are better now. Not great, but better. I won’t go into all the ins and outs. And even when things are good, it’s hard. And there’s a lot you don’t remember. But being present when you’re with the people you love is the most important thing. I’m able to be more present now. But I still resent a lot of things from those first few days, weeks, months, and year. A LOT. But, I guess this is where I should also say thank goodness for my iPhone and it’s live photos and videos. If I can’t remember, then at least I have some evidence, right?
So my cousin just had a baby, and I am incredibly jealous of her. She gets a fresh start with a new human and his first days in this world. She’s not a first-time mom, so she’s experienced some of this before, but a new mom is a new mom, and I’m jealous as hell.
I wouldn’t trade my son for anything in this world. But I would like to get those days back. And be able to remember more of the ones I had.
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