But What if I Don’t Want it All?

Right now I feel like my inner monologue is battling with a terrible used car salesman that I argue with every single day, but instead of a used car he is selling me a used life.

“You can have it all for the low, low price of—“

“—Of what? Missing milestones in my son’s life, feeling like I’m being an absentee parent, feeling frustrated with my child because I’m exhausted, and feeling like I’m half-assing everything and there’s not enough time in the day to get everything done, having mommy guilt because if and when I do get it all done I want to rest, take a bath, have a glass of wine, have some alone time, and sleep so I don’t feel crazy?”

I’m not saying this is how things will be once my maternity leave ends, but right now that’s how I feel and it’s awful.

I have never really wanted to have it all. I think maybe I thought I did at one time, but I don’t. And I respect women that do. There are days that I wish I did feel that way. Some of my closest friends are those picture perfect wives and mothers that seem to juggle everything with grace and ease. But, there is no feeling worse to me than feeling like I am spread too thin. I’ve never had a problem finding projects for myself, but usually when I take something else on I am pretty positive I can accomplish it. There have been rare occasions I’ve had to step away from things, but it’s only because when I do something, I want to do it well. If I can’t do it well I would at least like to do it sufficiently. If I can’t do it sufficiently then why bother? I don’t want my name attached to crappy garbage work, and I’m shocked at people who do. My mother can tell you I’ve been some version of this for a long time. If I wasn’t my version of an expert at my chosen hobby that year I wouldn’t continue to do it. She thought it was fickle and indicated at a lack of wanting to practice, and maybe it was a little. I like to think of it as knowing my limitations. I may have a short attention span, but that attention span is all in to whatever it is I choose to do.

You Want Me To Do What?

I resent the notion that being made to feel like having it all is even possible. You’re telling me that I’m expected to work 40 hours a week, be a present and loving wife and mother, maintain some level of cleanliness in my home, clean myself and my child, feed us (just kidding–I don’t cook but I make that boobie juice), love my dogs, have a hobby, participate in my child’s hobbies (when he gets them), maintain my handful of meaningful friendships, bathe, sleep, exercise, and do all of it well and be happy about it? All while running on little to no sleep. That is insane and unrealistic. I refuse to accept it. Something has got to give. I have both feet in my new life as a mother and one toe dipped in my “pre-mom” life and I’m going back to my job in two weeks. I’m panicking. I’m staring at a life that I don’t recognize right in the eyes, and I feel like I’ve seen a ghost. It’s crazy that I should even feel this level of anxiety while my child is still considered a newborn.

Life Isn’t Fair—To Women

It’s not fair. And yes, I know I sound like the millennial I am right now. But it’s really not. I shouldn’t be torn right now. My hormones, my body, my mind, and everything I am says I should be with my son at basically all times. Hell, I can’t go to dinner with my girlfriends or a football game without my boobs leaking and longing to be with him. I am primal right now. I should be enjoying this time with my son and I am, but in the back of my head at all times I’m worried about what kind of parent I am going to be when I return back to work in a couple of weeks.

I’m fortunate enough that I have it a lot easier than most parents who return to work. My mother will be the one taking care of my son, and I have the privilege of working from home most days. But anyone who works from home can tell you that once your home becomes your office, the lines between your work and home life become increasingly blurred and it takes discipline to create boundaries. It’s fairly common for me to respond to emails at 11:00 at night or in the middle of Sunday brunch. Working at a job that is so integrated into my life with a baby at home that hasn’t quite figured out the joys of a nap that lasts longer than 30 minutes has me stressed, and I should be blissed out on oxytocin right now.

I am not one of these women who wants to stay home with my child until they are 12, not that there’s a thing wrong with that. Like I’ve said, I enjoy working and have no problems finding projects for myself. And I know women who were ready to return to work immediately and that is fine too, but I’m not one of them. I need more time to find that balance. I crave time with my boy. 12 weeks isn’t enough and I already feel like I’m floundering. I feel helpless, and I feel like it’s a broken system that has failed me.

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So Long Savings Account

America is the only industrialized country IN THE WORLD that does not offer paid maternity leave. Yeah, you read that right. In the world. Our “progressive” country? Doesn’t offer paid maternity leave. Neither does the company that I work for, and when people talk to me about what they assume is my paid time off—I laugh in their face. They also didn’t start offering temporary disability until I was eight months pregnant. People just assume I was stupid and didn’t know about temporary disability. I knew. It wasn’t an option for me because apparently you have to have temporary disability for nine months before you ever get pregnant. What a freaking joke. To say that I am bitter is an understatement. I’m bitter that I had to use my vacation hours. Guess what? Expelling a human from your body isn’t a vacation. I’m bitter because helping that tiny human acclimate to life outside of the womb isn’t a vacation. And babies only start becoming super pleasant to be around once your 12-week FMLA stint is over. I’m sure this post makes me sound like a bitter feminist shrew, and I kind of am. I’m also bitter because women in charge are okay with these policies because “that’s how things have always been.” That kind of temperament is what gets you in trouble. That kind of reasoning is why women still get paid 75 cents to the man’s dollar. That kind of acceptance is why my savings account is dwindling because I wanted to be at home for at least 12 weeks with my newborn son.

An Antiquated System

The fact that FMLA even needs to exist blows my mind and to me is further proof that the human race treats its fellow man like garbage. I will link to the actual FMLA government page because it is worth the read and is important for mothers-to-be, but for those of you that don’t know and need to know, the short of it is this:

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) is a United States federal law requiring covered employers to provide employees job-protected and unpaid leave for qualified medical and family reasons.

Listen, I know private companies can’t pay for people to have baby after baby or for employees to go take care of family members or get injured and never come back. I may have failed economics twice in college, but it wasn’t because I don’t understand how making money works. It was because I can’t read complex graphs, and I wanted to take a nap. In all things in life, I believe in moderation. But what this says to me is that in the 1990s, someone thought that this federal law was adequate?! Less than 30 years ago no one stopped and thought that paid maternity leave was even an option or necessary? What about paternity leave? Shouldn’t fathers get ample time to bond with their children as well? Did these people have families? If my husband was responsible for passing some half-assed law like that he would never get laid again. Ever. And to top it off, before FMLA existed my company could have given my job away despite the fact I told them I would return to work, and I’ve been a loyal and hardworking employee for the better half of a decade. What the hell, America? How are we not more advanced than this by now?

So What’s the Solution? Hell if I know.

Do I have a solution? Yeah, fix it. Give families the time they deserve. Not only is it what is best for the family and child–it is a biological need. Do I have a solution that I think will be effective immediately? No, not really. Write your Congressmen. Even if they give you a dipshit response. Stop accepting that FMLA is enough. Ask your companies to review their outdated leave policies. Write a blog. Start a ruckus. Vote for someone who gives a damn. Just stop accepting that this is normal and okay. It’s not okay. It’s bullshit. Private companies shouldn’t stand for it. States shouldn’t stand for it. And our “progressive” (backwards) freaking country needs to get its act together.

Okay, I’m worn out. Rant on pause. I would say it made me feel better, but it didn’t. I’m going to go tend to the needs of my child while he still has the 24/7, undivided attention that he deserves during the first few weeks of life.

 

Human Pacifier

It’s been one of those weeks in our house where life just seems to get in the way. Everyone has felt under the weather and ragweed is blossoming in full force. It’s a joke in the Scruffy City that if you didn’t have allergies when you arrived here…you do now. And it’s true. We’re basically always voted in the top 10 cities for the worst allergies. If we are being totally honest the grogginess of battling allergies, preventing them from becoming a full blown cold or sinus infection, feeding the boy at night, keeping up with his needs during the day, and trying to maintain a general level of cleanliness in the house has me on the brink. Stay-at-home moms are warriors, man. I never underestimated them before, but now I never will. All of this is to say that I’m exhausted. Like cry in the middle of the coffee shop exhausted and I love the time I’ve spent at home. I wish it could be this way forever. But, I’ve had very little of myself to give this week. And when you are the food source for another human being you don’t always get the option to say, “no”.  Sure, I have bags of breast milk squirreled away in the freezer, but pumping milk also requires some sort of effort so in my mind despite the fact that I feel awful I might as well just feed the boy the good old fashioned way and give him the boob. I’m trying to save my milk for late nights when I am sleeping hard, days when the boy stays with my mom so I can accomplish something other than our survival, and my eventual return to the true-crime hustle.

It Ain’t Easy

I have a complicated relationship with breastfeeding. There was a moment in the hospital when the boy latched for the first time that I thought, “We’re not going to be able to do this.” It was painful, bordering on excruciating and I had just gotten done with 17 hours of labor without a single bit of pain medication. I knew it was wrong. I had enough friends and family members who struggled with breastfeeding to know that this wasn’t supposed to be a painful process thru and thru. It was going to take some getting used to, but this was too much. The first two days my son was alive he ate some from the breast, but got most of his milk from a syringe, tube, finger, and a spoon. I asked if they had checked him for tongue-tie when he initially went to the nursery. The nurses assured me that he had been checked, but that they would send the lactation consultant to see me as soon as possible. Let me tell you, a good lactation consultant is a gift from the powers that be. A lot of people don’t know that breastfeeding can be complicated as best, but these women…they know their shit. They taught me different holds and showed me exactly where my nipple should land in the boy’s mouth. But something was still off despite the fact that the consultant said I was doing everything right and that I had the perfect nipples for breastfeeding (such a strange compliment). I was devastated at the prospect that this might not be for me. I didn’t tell anyone that I had any doubts. I was just determined. After our second consult I asked the lactation consultant if she though he might have a tongue-tie. Sure enough she thought he might. He saw another pediatrician and eventually had both lips and tongue clipped. And everything about feeding became a million times easier and less painful. We never looked back and my doubts immediately faded. Mamas, trust your instincts.

Literal Titty Baby

The boy is a good eater. A very good eater, so good that he wants to do it 24/7. Awake. Asleep. Doesn’t matter he wants to eat and touch me. And apparently he has his father’s metabolism. He should be approximately 9 million pounds at this point, but he’s just putting on weight at a healthy rate. It’s really kind of annoying. Those Strike genes are crazy good stuff. Little did I know when we started our breastfeeding journey that it meant my child would want to be attached to me at all times and if his mouth isn’t latched on to my nipple directly then he wants to have it hanging out of his mouth or his face touching it just in case he decides he wants to eat. And on days when he isn’t feeling great he wants to actually nurse every second of the day. Before I was a parent and thought I knew everything I would have thought or said something like, “Well just don’t let him do that.” (Laughs maniacally and eye begins to twitch) Fuck off. I’m not a chump. It is not for lack of trying to get this child to use a pacifier or a bottle, hangout in his play gym, sit in the bouncer, lay in his crib, or just live for a second not on my body. I’m not stranger these days to being screamed at or baby sassed and even though this kid makes me a puddle of mush I think I still have a pretty thick skin.  But, like his parents, the boy is nothing if not persistent or stubborn as hell. Whichever way you choose to look at it. And there are days where I would rather drop dead than be touched for one more second. Those days I just want to tear my boobs off and hand them to my child and tell him that I don’t want them anymore and he can have them. I can’t decide if that is an only-child thing, a human thing, or a dramatic thing. Let’s just say all three to make me feel better. I’m an only child and I have basically a 3-foot personal space bubble around me at all times. It’s the reason I am not allowed to go to concerts or sporting events that don’t give me a designated seat anymore. Being someone’s comfort and food source has been an adjustment to say the least.

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Photo by: Colleen Keough Petree

Royal Pain in the…Boob?

I didn’t know boobs could get tired and mine get really, really tired. There are days that my nips look like soggy bathtub toes. This is because the boy is a really good faker and seems like he is still eating, but really he is asleep and using me as a human pacifier. We know if nothing else will comfort him he can be passed off to me and within seconds he will be fine. As hard as that is sometimes there is a part of me that loves that I have that effect on him. But, the second he is upset or hungry my boobs can sense it and my letdown begins. Hell, he can just look at me and there it goes. Fun thing about that? My body didn’t think that the pins and needles feeling was enough for it to know that milk is on its way. My letdown burns with the fire of a thousand suns and I start to leak everywhere. It is painful. Doesn’t matter where I am at or what I am doing I become a milk geyser. If I could do something about it I might be borderline embarrassed, but there isn’t a damn thing I can do about it so I’ve just embraced it. Another reason I have soggy bathtub toe nips? My breast pads are constantly soaked. Whoever invented those could become a billionaire solely from keeping me comfortable and dry. I invested in reusable ones because I feel like I’m single-handedly responsible for saving the planet and FMLA has made me poor. The boy is also an aggressive eater. There are times he is so happy and consumed in eating that he tears at my nipples like he’s a puppy. It takes everything I have in me not to boop his nose. There other day he pulled it like 2 inches from my body. I squealed. There may or may not have been tears.

Not the Fountain of Youth

As silly (and vain) as it may seem there have been a fair amount of tears associated with my boobs these days. My letdown burns like a mother, my nips are used as chew toys, and simply put they just aren’t what they used to be and that has been the hardest part of my postpartum body to accept. One of the best compliments I received in college was from a classmate was that I had some of the perkiest breasts she has ever seen. I’ve held on to that for years. If I had nothing else I had perky boobs. When I got pregnant they were perky and full. They were never huge. They were just right and I loved them. Now not so much. I have mom boobs. I love them for different reasons, but the streaks of purple, extra pink nips, and the heaviness and emptiness that comes from filling and emptying of milk is still taking some getting used to. But, I love that they are responsible for giving my boy a full belly at night.

What IS there to Like?

Before y’all think I’m down on breastfeeding (cause everyone on the internet is a hater these days) let me reiterate that for everything that is hard about breastfeeding there is something equally as fascinating and rewarding. I can’t pretend that every time I pump (I’ll write about that necessary evil one day) or accidentally squirt milk across the room that I’m not a little bit fascinated. I have the same, “that came out of me” reaction every time. It’s shocking. The same milk that feeds my son can also help clear up his baby acne and has about a billion other uses. It’s liquid magic. And making that milk can help melt off all of that ass fat I accumulated growing a human and eating delicious lard fried donuts every week. It’s science. If you’re into science this is a cool and encouraging article a friend sent me when I began breastfeeding. And there are days like today that we laze around and he eats a leisurely second breakfast or elevenses and pets me on the chest as if to say, “Thanks mom”.  It’s a gift and sometimes it brings me to my knees with gratitude that I get to spend that special time with him. Those moments during the day are ours. Do I feel lucky to be able to do that for my son? Totally. I know that not everyone is as lucky as I have been. I’m just here to let you know it ain’t easy. I’m so thankful to my friends that shared their stories with me. I thought it would just be second nature. Caveperson style instinct and ease. Nope.

Do What is Right—For You

I also know that fed is best. I don’t think any mom should ever be shamed or made to feel like she is less because she can’t breastfeed. What the hell is that about these days anyway? Sometimes it’s just not an option and that is okay. I was adopted. Not a single bit of breast milk touched this sass mouth. And to top it all off I was lactose intolerant. I got soy formula and I’m pretty sure it was before the days of putting DHA in everything. I’m here, fine, and a mostly well adjusted human being and I don’t have an extra appendage or strange ailment. Do what is right for you, your baby, and your family. You don’t have anyone else to please. Just know that if you are having a rough go of it you are not alone. If you need to reach out to someone about it you can reach out to me! I definitely encourage those who are struggling to reach out to someone. Even though my specific struggle (it’s still exhausting every night) didn’t last very long it was just a comfort to know that there were other moms in my immediate friend group that also didn’t just magically pick up their baby and breastfeed.

The most encouraging words I’ve heard all week are, “You got this mama. Remember, you can do hard things.” You can and you will.

And a word to the wise. Count your blessings. Either way count them. Because one day your little one might start to latch and never turn back and you will be feeding your baby  (who is taking their sweet time) on the couch and you’ll need to poop. Bad. Just saying. Not that I know from experience or anything.

Postpartum Life?

I don’t know why, but I always assumed that postpartum was a distinct amount of time like six to 12 weeks or three months. When I Googled postpartum, Postpartum Depression (PPD) automatically came up. That was it. That wasn’t what I was looking for, so I had to reevaluate my search and instead looked up “postpartum definition”. Turns out that the definition of postpartum is “following childbirth or the birth of young”. Uhhh. Duh. Isn’t that just life now? Isn’t everything postpartum? The fact that Google and Merriam-Webster don’t know what exactly I am trying to find is further proof that postpartum life is kind of an enigma and that no one really talks about it. I personally think that is really annoying because I had no idea what to expect after giving birth. Sometimes my questions are too big for the Google.

Postpartum life brings along more than just physical changes. And as discussed before, those physical changes can elicit an emotional response. (Thanks, hormones!) I’ve been an emotional train wreck. I’ve experienced some “baby blues”. The things I have anxiety about range from reasonable to “I’m afraid my baby is smiling at ghosts” (a legitimate concern this week). During my pregnancy I was absolutely terrified of getting PPD. It actually kept me awake some nights. Not to mention there’s also postpartum OCD, postpartum psychosis, and pretty much any other mental break you can think of, and I was afraid of getting all of them. I’m sure there’s still time.

Now before you think that I’m a hypochondriac, you have to understand that I have dealt with anxiety and depression on and off for the last 15 years, basically since I hit puberty. These were genuine fears, and I discussed these fears with my therapist, midwives, doula, husband, mom, and good friends. I wanted them (and still do want them) to hold me accountable for my actions, whether that is just in life or specific to parenting. I am the queen of keeping it together until I can’t anymore and trying to convince everyone “it’s fine” when really I’m about to lose it. I didn’t want that to happen once the boy got here, so I started building my tribe based on that fear. I hate asking for help, but I was too afraid not to ask for help in this arena. It is nothing to be ashamed of, especially if it’s something that concerns you. Plus, ain’t nobody got time for that shit when they are trying to take care of a teeny tiny.

Meat Pills

Along with preparing myself by building a solid support group, I also looked into encapsulating my placenta. I had read that it was supposed to help boost milk supply, help prevent PPD, balance your hormones, and replenish your iron levels among many other benefits. This isn’t an exact science or proven by the FDA (honestly who gives a crap about them), but I figured every other animal on the planet consumes their placenta and they can’t all be wrong. Plus, your body just created an amazing organ that helped to keep your baby alive. I couldn’t bear the thought of throwing it in the garbage (I’m also kind of an emotional hoarder). Much like all of the different things I was willing to try in order to not tear my nether regions, I was willing to try just about anything I thought might help with PPD. If you are considering having encapsulation done be forewarned: placenta capsule burps taste like you are burping up really beefy dog food. This stupidly surprised me, and I feel like I shouldn’t have been because it makes sense. But I swear they help. I think the body still needs those nutrients, but I’m not a medical professional. Not even close. What do I know?

Freakin’ Cry Baby

I thought it might be fun to make a list about all of the things I have cried or teared up about since the boy has arrived. All of these reasons I feel like are valid in their own way. Here they are:

My new set of balls” hurts, and I forgot to take my Motrin and Tylenol 3.

My nipples hurt, and the boy just gave me a tittie twister.

I haven’t had a hug or touched my husband or any person other than my son in days and I feel lonely.

I haven’t been out of the house in days.

I haven’t showered since God knows when (which is ironic because I would go days and days without showering before the boy arrived and it never bothered me).

I smell weird. Like a new kind of weird. My BO has completely changed. I also can smell a pee diaper from a mile away.

I’m exhausted. I am an 8-10 hour a night kind of girl and mom life has been a rude awakening.

I feel bad for my dogs because their lives have changed, and they never saw it coming.

My husband went back to work.

I suck at this.

I miss my old life.

Sometimes I don’t want to be a mom anymore.

I feel bad because I hate everything.

I love my son too much.

I wish that no one would ever touch me again for as long as I live.

The boy is growing and cannot fit into a newborn onesie.

The boy has gas, and I cannot help him.

The boy is crying for some unknown reason, and I cannot figure it out and I am so tired that I want to die.

The boy nuzzled me.

I love my mom.

I’m starving and haven’t eaten in hours but the boy is asleep on me.

Shelter dogs.

The Subaru commercial with the dog.

The prescription med commercial with the old people and the Annie tune.

Everything is harder.

More “It takes a village” Advice

Because everything is harder than it was before, having a support system has been key for me. Like super key. Like I’m calling or texting someone everyday wondering what the hell I am supposed to be doing. Motherhood has blessed me by deepening my connections with friends, my own mother, and bringing me some great new friends. I don’t think I ever knew how loved my family and I were until the boy arrived. It’s been overwhelming. I know not everyone is fortunate enough to get that feeling, but in part it has been because we have let people in and let them love and take care of us. Have there been moments where I wanted everyone to piss off and go home? Totally. But mostly it has been really nice to see people come together because our little man in is in the world.

Man Crush

Parenthood has also changed my relationship with my husband. To know me is to know that I am weirdly obsessed with the man I married. I basically think he is perfect. Even when he gets on my nerves, I kind of like it because it just proves to me that he is human and not actually perfect but almost perfect. We took a really strange and long winding road to find each other and I think that has only intensified my love for him. I was honestly a little afraid of what parenthood would do to our relationship because it was so dreamy to me. I didn’t want anything to upset our balance. Has it? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Like I mentioned before, I have wept because I felt like I hadn’t hugged him or carried on an actual conversation with him in days. But despite the growing pains, I feel like we truly are a team now. It’s not that I didn’t think we were before, but now it’s more active. Before the boy arrived we leaned on each other a lot in day-to-day life, but the heavy lifting teamwork came out for big life changes and tragedies. This is everyday. And you better believe if he didn’t change diapers in the middle of the night I would like him a lot less.

He can see when I’m getting worn down before I even know it’s happening, and being able to step in for each other has been the key to neither of us going insane. Sometimes this happens gracefully. Other times he intervenes because I’m having a full-blown meltdown, crying in our bed, begging him not to go to work and leave me with the baby because I didn’t sleep any the night before because the boy had gas and made weird jungle noises all night long. That was the case this week, and he called my mom for reinforcement. I was basically pissed about it all day long, but was thankful for the meal, shower, nap, and the comfort of knowing someone I trusted was watching my child. Teamwork is not always pretty.

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Also, as a side note, I need someone to explain to me how they ever think having a child is going to save or strengthen a relationship. After experiencing pregnancy and the early stages of child rearing, that is the craziest shit theory I have ever heard. The fact that any broken relationship survives pregnancy alone blows my mind. If the person you have procreated with was a lazy pain in the ass before the baby, guess what? Chances are they are still going to be a lazy pain in the ass when the baby gets here. The difference is that you are going to have a baby to take care of and you will be running on little to no sleep so their behavior will be more glaringly obvious to you. You will not change them and the baby will not change them. Cut them loose now.

All of this (the gushing about my husband and the rant) is to say: find your tribe. Find your support system, whatever that means to you. Parenting isn’t meant to be a solo sport. And mamas, when you are riding the highs and lows of all of those hormones coursing through your body, you will not want to be alone. So call a partner, a friend, a family member, a coworker, a church member–just someone you feel like you can rely on. But you need to feel 100% confident that this person is going to support you and have your back. Ride or die.

This is Your Life Now

Anxiety is a bitch, and babies will make you anxious about the stupidest stuff. At some point you will realize that you’re worrying about something ridiculous and think, “This is my life now.” Babies do that to you. They make you feel stupid. My son was smiling and cooing at God knows what the other day, and I thought to myself, “Oh no, what if he sees ghosts?! What if he’s one of those weird kids you read about on the Internet that talks to ghosts, and I see it on the baby monitor one day??” I would die if that happened. That probably wasn’t what was happening (at least I hope not), but that is the kind of crazy thing you will worry about. If they have gas, you will worry that your breast milk or formula is killing them. You will Google every possible cause of death and discomfort that exists. You will wonder if they have colic despite the fact that they are perfectly normal 90% of the day. Chances are they are crying because they aren’t sure how to live yet, and they probably have a shitty dipe. I always forget about the dipes.

Babies have some kind of death wish. The boy only wants to sleep in the most SIDS-risk positions. He loves to lay on his stomach and side, and the place he sleeps most soundly is in the big bed, after nursing, right against my side. If I rolled over, I would crush him to death. Anytime I put him in the baby wrap so I can go about my day and try to get something accomplished, I will spend too much time making sure he is placed perfectly just for him to wiggle into a position that looks like his head is going to fall off his body. When I try to move him, I get grunted or screamed at. Whatever kid. You do you. He also makes jungle cat noises in his sleep and gasps. All. Night. Long. Let me tell you that gasping is a joy to hear in the middle of the night. To quell our anxieties on the sleep front, my husband purchased us an Owlet system. Be warned, it’s expensive, but to us it was worth it. There are definitely nights I want to throw it out the window. This is usually because I’ve walked too far from the base or the boy wiggled his sock off. We’ve only had one “red alert”, and it was because the boy was trying to suffocate himself in my boob while nursing in the middle of the night. It was terrifying even though I knew he was awake and breathing. My mom gives me flack over some of my gadgetry. I get the, “I don’t know how you survived” speech often, but honestly I don’t know how I survived. I was a preemie. The odds were not in my favor (cue: Destiny’s Child “Survivor”).

It Won’t Last Forever

If you are feeling broken or overwhelmed postpartum, remember that it’s a phase and that it will not last forever. Know that all people do not automatically bond with their baby. Not everyone gets that rush of endorphins. If you are feeling hopeless, talk to your doctor. They will not judge you, and trust me, they will ask you all about how you are feeling at your six week appointment regardless. They will also ask you if your butthole has been leaking, and because you are paranoid, you will have to actually think about it. Be honest.

And all banter aside, know that your postpartum mental health is just as important as your physical health. People die from PPD and that tears me up inside because it’s senseless. Take it seriously and ask for help. It’s so much more common than you realize. I can list at least five people off the top of my head who have struggled with it, and just because it hasn’t been a part of my journey in the first six weeks doesn’t mean that it won’t happen. It means I’m blessed right now and I have to stay proactive.

Know that your baby is going to make you feel stupid. You will do stupid things. “Pregnancy brain” does not go away once baby is earth side. It just turns into a different kind of forgetfulness, and the same people who were shits to you about your forgetfulness during pregnancy will continue to be shits to you about your new forgetfulness. These are people you don’t need in your life. Ignore them. Just because you are forgetful doesn’t mean you still can’t be clever.

There will be days you super suck at being a parent.

For example: I went to my six-week check up this week with my son in a swim diaper because I was washing the rest of his diapers. I didn’t dry them in time so I brought a wet diaper with me and hoped it dried in the car. I left the diaper and diaper bag in the car. I realized it once I got in the office but hoped for the best because I changed him before we left the house. Who had a blowout and no diaper? Thank god the staff loved us enough to find another diaper and change him. Eye rolls at myself for days.

There will be days you hate everything about being a parent. For those days when you just need to cry until you feel sick, this is my secret weapon. Please read that and get it out of your system. There have been days I have just read that post, cried and vowed to just make it to tomorrow. And my kid doesn’t have colic or anything weird going on. I’m lucky and this shit is just hard.

But for all of those days that are awful, there are days when your baby pets your chest while you are feeding them or plays footsie with your arm while they are sleeping. They will belly laugh and coo at you. You get to watch other people love this tiny human you are raising. There are days when the shitty diapers are so shitty that they are comical. They are not going to be this tiny forever. Soak it in as much as you can. The sleeplessness will make that hard. Just remember in the words of Kimmy Schmidt, “I can do anything for 10 seconds.”