Blasted into a new universe!
I’ve thought about this blog often, but haven’t had the energy or time to dedicate to an entry since Archer’s birth 3 weeks ago. When he sleeps, I’m usually showering, eating, or sleeping — or perhaps sweeping, going through piles of mail, or doing laundry. Every once in a while Ted and I sneak out for a quiet moment on the porch or manage to watch 30 minutes of TV.
So, as it turns out, parenting a newborn is a lot of work! Who knew? (just kidding)
Of course we knew, but also knew there was no way to really prepare for all the change. That has proven true. I felt very prepared for pregnancy and for birth – there was very little anxiety on my part and things went smoothly and calmly throughout – relatively speaking (I’ll post my birth story soon). But suddenly having a child to care for 24 hours a day for the rest of our lives was a major kick in the gut — in the first week after Archer’s birth I felt like I was experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Postpartum Depression, and bereavement over the death of my freedom and childless life. Sound dramatic? It was! I was really shocked at how intense it all felt to me – sometimes I felt hopeless, or like we’d made a mistake and I just cried my eyes out over it. I’m usually pretty good at keeping myself together, but I totally lost it. It was daunting to think of accomplishing anything or thinking about the future even in terms of hours or days. I thought “Why didn’t anyone tell me it was going to be like this?!” I do wonder now if there was anyway I could have been better prepared or warned – but maybe there isn’t. I recently talked about these feelings with another new mom and she agreed, saying that at first “I loved my child, but I didn’t like her”: During that first week it just seems like the baby is placing non-stop demands on you and giving very little in return. I couldn’t really see a personality in Archer or much of a connection between us and I thought maybe there was something wrong with me that I couldn’t emotionally connect with my kid. I also felt selfish for being so upset over losing my comfortable “perfect” life.
That was week one. Now we’re starting week four and the scene is very different. I enjoy sitting on the porch and nursing Archer. it seems like maybe he’s starting to look at me a little bit. His hands are more active and engaging as he grabs at my shirt or my hand. I enjoy rocking him in my great-great-grandmother’s rocking chair and listening to the radio and watching him stare at me as he falls asleep. I get very little sleep, but the sleep I get feels so good! I savor it. We’ve taken lots of walks so I’m getting to spend more time outdoors, something I often lament that I don’t do enough of. So although even the smallest tasks such as using the bathroom or drinking a glass of water now seem to revolve around Archer instead of me, having him around is also providing new opportunities – discovering new bands I enjoy on the radio, catching up on world news, spending more time on my porch, rocking myself and Archer into a peaceful state.
I’ve gotten a whole lot of support from my family and from Ted. We had around the clock care from my parents and sister for the first week – something we hadn’t planned on, but quickly realized we needed when all 3 of us were crying by 4a.m. our first night at home. A few moms have reached out to tell me their very honest accounts of how difficult their first weeks were – it helps normalize my experience and I realize that things are OK. I am OK. Archer is OK. I’ve benefited so much from all of this support.
It’s hard to get things done, but I kind of enjoy the zen quality of that fact. I have to very much live in the moment. I’ve tried to write this entry 3 different times, but Archer came calling and my plans for 10 minutes of journaling had to be abandoned. I like how present tense everything is right now. I have no idea what the world will feel like to me and Archer a week from now, let alone a month from now.
An old camp counselor of mine just wrote to me: “These are such wonderful times. Remember.” I’m glad she told me to remember. It’s easy to focus on the stress and uncertainty rather than the joy and specialness of it all. I really savored pregnancy and I shall endeavor to savor this period as well, despite the exhaustion. By everyone’s account, these first weeks and months fly by and we’ll look back fondly on them and miss them even! I think Archer and I are both feeling rather bewildered by one another, but we’re both getting more comfortable with the situation, and, I daresay, enjoying each others’ company more and more. I want to enjoy how special this little person is.