Monday, September 29, 2014


People have transitioned from (when I was pregnant) warning us thoroughly that our lives are about to change, forever, for the worse (at least, all the things they warned us about seemed like bad things--lack of sleep, a screaming child, never being able to do the things we used to do) to oohing and aahing over our newborn and telling us that these are the best days of our lives and we should suck the marrow from every moment. Frankly, I'm a little confused, especially because I am just now, three weeks into this adventure, beginning to be able to enjoy it.

It's hard to enjoy having a newborn when there's so much anxiety associated with him: What if we choose the wrong sleeping situation and he gets SIDS? What if he stays awake all night screaming? What if breastfeeding continues to hurt as much as it does right at this moment? (Which is a lot, and I'll tell you what, I feel like I don't deserve any more pain.) What if I leak when I'm in public? What if I can't ever do my work again? What if we can't find/afford childcare? What if he is staying awake too much? What if my body doesn't heal? What if I have diastasis recti? What if we have 8 children? What if he forever refuses to nap unless he's in my arms? (As you can see, these worries range from big things to little things, from very real possibilities to things that are very unlikely. All the worries get jumbled up together.)

It helps me to get out of the house and be among people and enjoy them oohing and aahing over my son, reminding me that he is, indeed, adorable, and worth enjoying. (Of course, they also imply that later things become even more difficult as he grows up. Goodness, advice is exhausting.) But I also feel an expectation from most people to be unabashedly positive about my baby, which is hard when I bear the responsibility for keeping him alive and happy. It's much easier to be unabashedly positive about someone else's baby.


Miss Self-Important said...

I often wish, especially mid-semester, that I had so legitimate an excuse as a newborn to stop doing my work. Maybe we can trade places (but later, after the milk provision ceases to be necessary)? Or maybe this could be a good business model for academics - baby rental for when you're too tired of revising your draft for the fourth time and putting off your own childbearing to keep doing it? I guess that kind of already exists, as foster care, but I think I'd rather rent your cutie-pie than a stranger's traumatized 12 year-old.

Emily Hale said...

Ha--I love the baby rental idea. That would solve my child care worries. When we were little, we were obsessed with a made-for-TV-movie called Rent-A-Kid, which has a similar idea.

Hannah said...

Love the pictures!! So sweet (oooo...aaahhh :-P )

It used to really bother me when people said 'treasure this time - it goes by so fast'. I would smile politely, but inside I was thinking, "No, thank you. I do not enjoy being up all night, having to endure ear-piercing cries, etc."

Breastfeeding - it won't hurt forever! I used lanolin and some prescription stuff my midwife gave me that they simply called 'Canadian Nipple Cream.' Also, we found out that Zork was tongue-tied, which wouldn't allow him to latch deeply enough and decided to have his frenulum clipped. That made a huge difference. And have you heard of Bamboobies? A little on the expensive side, but I really liked them. They are thin, but absorbent. And heart-shaped to conform better.

I've had other mothers turn to me (in one instance, right after I asked for prayers because I was having a hard time dealing with a particular baby phase) and say, "It gets SO much harder." That's not exactly a comforting thing to hear when you are already having a hard time! I guess maybe it's hard not to say such things.

Emily Hale said...

So nice that you understand!! Yes--I have lanolin and a prescription--Jack Newman's nipple cream (?). And we have a lactation consultant--she thinks that he has a little lip tie, but that it won't get in the way. I've been to see her once and to her breast-feeding support group once. One side is fine and the other is all cracked and painful.