While the birth of Rowan was as easy as pie, I can’t say that these last three weeks at home with him have been quite as delightful. Sure, there have been plenty moments of pure saccharine, when I wake up in the morning after cobbling together five or six hours of sleep the night before, when the baby is lucidly alert after a nap/feeding/changing and he wants nothing more than to just gaze at the ceiling, light fixture, toy dangling from his bouncer, or on the rare occasion, into my eyes, and I think to myself, yes, I can do this. I can be a mom. I am his mom.
But then there are nights like last night, when the baby was so incredibly fussy for reasons we can only speculate (gas? growth spurt? hungry? OMGWHAT?) and not a wink of sleep was to be had by the baby, Roth or me (Sierra slept just fine, as she has the ability to tune out the shrill war cries of a three-week-old infant, apparently), and I feel as though I’ve been reduced down to nothing more than just a pair of chapped nipples. And I think, I can’t do this. I just … can’t.
I hate that I’m even writing about this, because it’s such a fucking cliché, to be complaining about sleep deprivation after having a baby. I mean, HELLO, right? Did I really expect that a perfect pregnancy plus a perfect labor and delivery would equate to a perfect baby who wants to sleep when it is dark outside? Well, yes, I did hope for that, and there have been a few precious amazing sleep-laden nights peppered throughout these last three weeks that have kept that pipe dream alive. But last night was our first truly horrific night where nothing – not nursing, pacifiers, pinky fingers, gentle rocking, gas drops, shhh-ing, swaddling, side-laying, bouncer chair vibration, magic tricks, tap dancing – would appease the baby.
Even though everyone says this is normal, and oh, it will get better, I still feel like a failure. And it’s not because I couldn’t physically comfort my baby. It’s because I thought and even said aloud some not-so-nice things while in the throes of utter frustration. I’m mad at myself that I let this teeny-tiny baby get the better of me, that I couldn’t just chalk last night up to one bad night in a sea of good ones surely to come.
No, instead I muttered horrible things while angrily tromping around the house with a baby uncomfortably squirming around in my arms. Poor Roth, who had to get up for work at 4:30, was laid out on our bed with a spasming lower back, no thanks to having to bend over our low-to-the-ground bed to change him, but even so, he would take the baby when clearly I needed to hand him off. Yes, last night was one to remember. Er, or rather, to forget and hope never, ever happens again.
I hate admitting this, but everyone was annoyingly right. A baby does change everything. Like, BIG TIME. I think I’m only now just realizing this at the three-week mark because just like the baby, I’ve been sort of dreamily sleepwalking through the so-called fourth trimester. The honeymoon period, as it were. While the baby is just starting to really wake up and become aware of his surroundings, I’m only now coming to terms with my new reality, now that my mom is no longer here to do the dishes and fold laundry and Roth is back to work full time. I AM a mom, oh my god. Clearly, the honeymoon is over.
While I’m still adjusting to this new life, I don’t want to waste one single day of my maternity leave dwelling on the negatives, and yet, this is what I did most of today, post hellacious night of no sleep. Somehow I have to find it in me to focus on the positives, that chapped nipples just mean I’m successfully nourishing my son. That for every bad night there will most certainly be two better nights. And that soon, this sweet face will look at me and smile, simply because I am his mama.
That’ll be worth a thousand sleepless nights, right?