New Notes on a Newborn
August 2, 2015
August 2, 2015
Tomorrow I go back to work. After three long months, my maternity leave is exiting stage right and I rejoin the land of adult conversation and no longer smelling like baby spit up.
That said, it’s a bittersweet double edged catch 22 sword. Or something like that.
Wanting to go back, yes. Sad to leave my little squawker at day care, of course.
The last few months have flown by, as well as gone incredibly slow. Popping out a little one seems like it was just yesterday. However, sleeping on the couch with a newborn, being incredibly sleep deprived and ridiculously emotional seems like it’s been ages ago.
Dark ages ago, in fact.
Having a newborn is hard.
No shit, you think, scoffing as you read this. I see that eye roll.
But NO. NOOOOO. Having a newborn is really incredibly hard and I’ve no idea why people don’t scare the living shit out of you with this knowledge the instant you announce you’re with child.
Sure, people smile, say congratulations and things like, “oh, it’s tough but it will pass” or “having a baby is great but get ready for no sleep” or “it’s the most beautiful moment of your life.” People who sugarcoat — you guys are dicks.
I needed parents to sock it to me. To really say HOLY FUCK GET READY FOR A TERROR YOU’VE NEVER EXPERIENCED.
I had a fairy tale version of having a newborn. Sure, they cry. Big deal. Lack of sleep you say, done that. I envisioned lounging around on my bed in silk post-baby pajamas and binging on Netflix while the baby napped in the bassinet. It would coo and I would nurse her. Occasionally it would cry and I would comfort it. ALL WHILE WATCHING NETFLIX, DO YOU HEAR ME?
JESUS CHRIST NO. Nope. FUCK ME. Not even remotely close.
Now let’s just get this straight before I go further – I love my daughter. I want her with a hungry love. I’d collapse into a thousand pieces if anything happened to this little girl with the crooked smile. BUT I was not truly prepared for how hard caring for a newborn was. I was prepared for my home birth and for the care of my crotchal regions post-birth (stool softener, anyone?) but holy hell not prepared for the newborn phase.
I say all this not to complain but simply because I don’t think people talk about the emotional aftermath of having a newborn. I’m sure some parents are equipped, some can cloth diaper a newborn in the dark (Congratulations, fuckers), but most of us are left wide-eyed, slack-jawed and WTF’d when day four of having a new baby really kicks in. And I’m betting that most of us, inside, feel awful for admitting that maybe they are ill- prepared and occasionally asking themselves HOLY BALLS WHAT HAVE WE DONE?
Friends and family expect new parents to be happy, to say it’s a joy we’ve never experienced, when, in the first month can feel like anything but. You feel bad that you don’t feel as happy as you should. Or you don’t feel deserving of having this perfect baby-child when you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing.
I get it. Nobody wants to admit it’s hard. Especially me. Hell, I can’t even believe I’m writing this. Baring me soul, it don’t come easy. But I’ve thought about this a lot during my leave — that I never could have imagined how hard it was and how I wished someone would have been honest (Cluster feedings, constant crying, the trials of breastfeeding, never being able to sit down because baby wants to be rocked) so instead, I’m just trying to be honest about the aftermath.
Because if I had known I could have steeled myself for the worst and got rid of starry-eyed notions. I wouldn’t have felt guilty about feeling overwhelmed. Or felt sad for missing pre-baby life. But the one thing that has been true throughout this whole new baby thing is that when people tell you “it will pass and get better” is that it really does.
So…new parents, don’t feel bad. Old parents, spread the fucking word.
Aaand in case you were interested…my Maternity Leave Netflix Count: