In my mind, the story goes like this: I came home from the hospital and happily cuddled my burrito baby for the first six weeks. I was in my own little cocoon with her, and nothing from the outside could bother us. It was a precious, wonderful time. I wasn't sleeping, but I was happy. It wasn't until later that I had problems.
But, apparently, that's not how it happened.
My husband said to me the other day, "Don't you remember waking me up in the middle of the night in tears? That you said if you stayed up by yourself with the baby anymore you were afraid you'd hurt her?"
Umm, now I do.
(And in retrospect? That's probably not normal.)
I think (I think!) the days were okay. She slept most of the time. I cuddled her. I held her all day long, and only put her down for an occasional nap. I slept from 7 AM (when my husband left for work) until 10 AM every day. I pulled meals out of my freezer for dinner, I ate cheese and crackers over the babies head. It was quiet and peaceful and the snuggles, oh the snuggles.
In fact, at 6 weeks, I even had a PPD screening. The grad student on the phone told me it sounded like I was doing pretty okay, and asked if that sounded right. I said it did. (Because, well, maybe it wasn't great, but it was the first 6 weeks, right? It was supposed to be hard. It was supposed to get easier.)
But the nights, oh the nights. The nights were brutal. Baby Girl was awake from 10 PM until 5 AM most nights. I'd pace my bedroom floor with her, not daring to take her downstairs and watch some TV or turn on a light because if I did, it might never get better right? I was supposed to keep night time dark and quiet and boring. I follow rules.
And the crying. Oh did she cry. The only thing that made her stop crying was when I nursed her. So I nursed her ever half hour. For 7 hours. Yes, that's true. No, I'm not exaggerating.
Her growth? And my milk supply? Were awesome.
My frame of mind? Not so much.
Okay, and maybe the days weren't always so great either. I suddenly remember now a skype conversation where baby and I could only be onscreen for 10 seconds at a time because I was pacing the entire house the rest of the time. I remember evenings when I walked around in circles in my living room while "watching" TV (there are episodes of House that I watch now and realize I didn't hear *any* of the dialogue). I searched the Internet for ways to get her to stop crying, to sleep at night and be awake during the day. I did everything everyone told me. I felt like a failure when it didn't work.
Umm, okay, so why don't I remember it this way?
Momnesia is powerful, people. Very powerful.
I think it's a defense mechanism. Our minds need to protect themselves, to protect us. It's what allows us to continue to function. It's what allows us to eventually have more children. Which I'm relatively sure is a good thing. Right?
But my concern is that Momnesia can become an offensive weapon instead of a defensive one. When we are reminiscing, when we are trying to be helpful. How many people told me, how many places did I read, "Oh, enjoy this stage. It doesn't last"?
And if you're a new mom, I want to say that to you. I want you to enjoy it. It doesn't last. It is precious, as is every single stage.
But I also remember thinking, "Who could enjoy this?"
I remember thinking I was broken, that I was a terrible mother because I was simply not enjoying it. Because it was so freaking hard for me.
And maybe, maybe I was a little broken. Maybe there is a better. Maybe I was too depressed to enjoy something I should have enjoyed.
But maybe not. I didn't miss it. Every bit of her newborn-ness is still a part of me, a part of our relationship. And the bits I keep in my conscious mind are the good bits: the snuggles, the first giggle, the nights I broke the rules and snuck downstairs to play instead of pace.
And so, if you are a new mom, this is what I want to say to you. Love on your baby, love on yourself. Believe that this stage is something that is temporary. You're not doing anything wrong, I promise.
And if you're thinking you wish you could enjoy it? Don't worry. You will.