This entry provided by guest blogger and resident Mommy, Amanda.
I look at my son and am amazed. It’s difficult for me to remember what the world was like without him in it. Two days after he was born I remember feeling like he’d always been there. But I haven’t always been a mommy, and although it’s the best thing I’ve ever been, it’s not always been easy.
When my first son was born, I would cry. Not because I felt overwhelming joy or love for my new baby, but because I was tired, hungry and in desperate need of a shower.
In some ways, I empathized with this tiny, helpless person who I was suddenly in charge of keeping alive. We were in the same boat. He cried too. He was hungry. He was dirty. He was tired. I fed him, cleaned him, rocked him to sleep. Did my best to take care of him. He stopped crying. I didn’t. Who was taking care of me?
The first three weeks of my son’s life I was nursing him, giving him a bottle and then pumping breast milk for the next bottle every two to three hours, 24 hours a day. The whole process took me about an hour, leaving me one to two hours at a time to do something else. At night I tried to sleep, but the thought of having to wake up after only a couple of hours seemed more torturous than staying awake.
My windows of available time were so small that I wasn’t sure how to prioritize what I needed to get done. Should I eat something? Did I really have the time to make something that would be both healthy and satisfying? Should I take a shower? Maybe I should try to exercise? Or take a quick nap?
More often than not, I was paralyzed with indecision. I was resentful that I had to choose between things like eating or sleeping. My husband and my mom tried to help. They made suggestions. And food. But I still felt alone and desperate.
There was also a whole other category of activities I was neglecting. Activities that had previously made me feel like me. Reading, baking, running, interacting with people in the world.
I slowly began to figure out ways to incorporate some of these activities. As my son and I got better at breastfeeding, I figured out how to read while he was nursing. I used some of my free time to start running again and it felt good, which encouraged me to keep doing it.
I still felt isolated. I still cried. I was still too hungry, and dirty and tired.
My son is now 2 ½ and life is completely different. He no longer needs me in the way that he did and now he has a new baby brother, who is taking up a lot of my time. I have slowly realized that I a
m a better mommy to him when I’m not sleep deprived and starving. It’s more often than not the simplest solutions that make the biggest impact on my mood, stress level and general well-being. In those moments when I find myself overwhelmed and crying, I have learned to stop and consider that perhaps I just need to eat something. Get some sleep. Take a minute to pause and do something just for myself. Even if it’s just making a cup of tea. Some days are still a struggle, but I’ve finally figured out the answer to my question. Who is taking care of me?
Tell us about how you do it. CALLING ALL PARENTS, share your wisdom!
Amanda is (among other things) a mommy, a reader, a baker, a runner, a writer, and a domestic Jack-of-all-trades. She lives in Harrisonburg, VA with her husband, toddler son, new baby boy, and Mac, the cat.
We’re delighted to have Amanda as part of the Third Space Wellness community! If you have something you’d like to contribute about living well and self-care please reach out so that the community can benefit from your lessons learned and inspired wisdoms too.