The truth of the matter is, being a parent, especially a stay-at-home exclusively breastfeeding mother, is HARD. Like, a million times harder than I thought that it would be. People tell you that it will be hard, and going into it I knew that it would be. But I also had these ridiculously unrealistic expectations of snuggling with my sweet, sleeping newborn and getting all sorts of stuff done around the house and reading on my Kindle while breastfeeding. We do snuggle a lot, but she also spends a LOT of time crying...and sometimes, so do I. I've wondered if I'm suffering from postpartum depression (and I'm sure that my husband has wondered that too), and I know for sure that I had a bad case of the "baby blues" and probably still do to some degree. More than anything, though, I think that even though I love our daughter with all my heart, I am struggling with the huge transition that comes when your life isn't just about you anymore. Becoming a mother isn't a job that you can accept on a trial basis and then quit when the going gets tough. Once you're a mother, you'll be one for the rest of your life. Kind of a daunting thought. Abby is over a month old now, and she's finally breastfeeding better and sleeping better, and I'm not always a milk soaked, sleep deprived zombie anymore. Yet, when she's screaming and fighting sleep for hours on end and I've done everything I can possibly think of to make her happy and none of it has worked, I feel like I am doing a really craptastic job as a mom. Those days are really, really hard. I'm still struggling with perspective, and trying to remind myself that it won't always be like this where the only means of communication she has is crying. Someday, soon maybe, she will smile and coo and laugh, and I know those moments will make the really hard ones that much sweeter. It's so hard to explain how I'm feeling these days, because after going through the process of making and then birthing an actual human being, I've experienced pretty much every emotion known to man. Overwhelming love, but also a sense of loss because my life will never be the way that it was. Fear, joy, anxiety, happiness. The other day, after a few particularly rough nights, I told my sister that I felt like I was drowning, and that at the same time I felt so incredibly guilty for having those thoughts because I wanted a child so very badly and we tried for so long to conceive and I love her so, so much! My sister told me this,
"It is the weight of a thousand pounds of love...it is so unbearably heavy some days. But I promise, I absolutely promise, that nothing about motherhood will ever be as hard as it is for you right now. This is the absolute darkest point in the tunnel, the place where you can't see either end and you wonder if you've made some terrible mistake and then you feel so guilty for wondering that at all. You WILL make it through, I promise. It's just going to take some tears and time first."
It made me feel so much better, because she's been where I am and can assure me that it really does get better. Not to say that all days are bad, because they're not at all and we've had some great moments. We've had some really horrible ones too, though, which leads me to what happened a few nights ago.
I'm just going to come out and say it, because there's no way to sugar coat it. My absolute worst nightmare came true and I dropped our daughter in the middle of the night. I got up for a feeding when I heard her cry, and I turned the lamp on in her room and picked her up. I started unswaddling her from her miracle blanket while walking towards the changing table, and in the blink of an eye she rolled right out of my arms and on to the floor. Thankfully, she fell onto the area rug in her room and not directly onto the hardwood floor, but that didn't matter. I started screaming and picked her up, and when I was calm enough to stand with her I ran to wake up Dave. I've honestly never been so scared in my entire life. We threw on clothes and I nursed her quickly and then we rushed her to the ER. I had to explain over and over again what had happened, and while the nurses and doctors all reassured me that accidents happen all the time and not to beat myself up, I felt like the absolute worst mother on the planet. I DROPPED our baby!!! Those hours we spent in the ER waiting for her cat scan to come back while she was being monitored were the worst moments of my life so far. In those hours, it didn't matter that motherhood so far hasn't been all that I dreamed it would be. Nothing in the entire world mattered to me except if Abby was going to be ok. Thankfully, her cat scan came back normal, and after a few hours of monitoring they sent us home. She's been eating and sleeping fine so far, but I'm still so worried that what happened will cause damage down the road. I keep trying to remind myself that this is something that she'll never remember, but for me it's burned into my memory and it's something I'll never forget. It was also quite a wake up call. I can't imagine what I would do if something happened to her! I cannot imagine life without her. So, even on the tough days, I need to remind myself that there will be great days in our future too. She won't always be little for long, and I need to take time to savor these moments. The dishes and the laundry and all of that can wait. And I'm so thankful that I have an amazing support system, particularly my husband, sister, and mom. Dave lets me cry on his shoulder when I'm feeling beyond frustrated, and my sister lets me vent to her about anything and everything, and my mom is there whenever I need to take a breather and just run to Target for an hour by myself. I've never been good about asking for help. I'm always wanted to be able to do it all on my own. But what this past month of being a parent has taught me is that it's ok to ask for and accept help. It's ok to not do things perfectly all the time. There is no "perfect way" when raising a child. I'm going to make mistakes...probably a lot of them. Starting with what happened the other night. Honestly, I was scared to pick her up in the middle of the night last night. But I have to move forward and also be more careful. I'll end the post with a quote, which I've always loved but didn't truly understand until I became a mom. How true this is!!