Memories of being a new mother

I recently came across this spiral notebook that I used when my daughter was first born to keep track of her eating and sleeping and diapers, my pain medication, and my own sleep (lack of sleep really).  Someone had told me that as long as I got 8 hours in every 24-hour cycle, I’d be ok.  Each page had a chart to hourly track absolutely everything, and I’d write all the things I wanted to accomplish (like thank you notes or phone calls) and they reappeared day after day after day since I didn’t ever have the time to do them (and I remember that used to drive me batty).

<– I had this hospital brochure cutout pasted on the cover of the notebook and I would look at it every day to answer the questions.  So many days, the answers were “no.”

I’m amazed at how isolated I was then.  I had not yet met all my new mom friends (without whom I literally can not survive).  I didn’t know that so much of what I was going through was a common experience… that being home all day, every day with a baby, with limited perspective that it would get better, was just plain awful.

My daughter is now almost three and I’ve forgotten that I once only slept in hour or two hour chunks; that I often didn’t get to shower until my husband got home from work; that it seemed that all I did some days was nurse the baby and change diapers; that I had to buy a military time watch because I never knew if it was day or night.  Scary how much we have the ability to forget! And why does nobody tell us this stuff???

Happy memories are there too, but I don’t think I’ll be going through it all again.  The small taste of freedom that I have had since my daughter began preschool three mornings a week has been heavenly.  I love being able to read for pleasure again and not just books about playful parenting or discipline or sleep tactics.  I am slowly resuming friendships that unfortunately fell by the wayside when I was in survival mode.  My house is starting to look like two adults live there as well as a toddler.  I don’t want to have to give up caffeine again and I would never forego breastfeeding.  Best of all, we have regular caregivers so my hubby and I can date again (each other, of course) and talk about things other than our sweet girl.

So there you have it, friends.  Some people can handle the stimulation, marital stress, and identity shift, but I know I can’t.  (Hats off to you with multiple children… I am in no way judging anyone else.) I won’t risk this stability or serenity in order to go back to the chaotic days of no sleep, trying just about everything at 5pm to get the baby to stop screaming, making baby food, etc.  Especially with a toddler in tow.  I’m sure she’d rather have a happy mommy to play with her.  I know my hubby would rather have a happy wife.   And how great is it that I have time to blog and cook and take pictures and scrapbook and garden and read and see friends and organize closets and send birthday cards and notice nature and do things for myself?

And yet… I feel self-centered for choosing not to use my nurturing and creativity for helping another sweet being enter the world and help make it a better place.  I feel that I was meant to be a mother, that I am good at it.  Does that mean I should be mother to more than one? I have stopped looking for the answer.  For now, I am trusting my instincts.

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