When I had my four-week check-up with my OB after Jackson’s birth, one of the nurses asked how I was doing and I told her honestly I was a bit of a wreck. She told me to wait until six weeks and things would start getting a little easier.
“I didn’t even start liking my baby until he was six weeks old!” she chirped.
This past weekend, Jackson turned six weeks old and to celebrate, he gave us his first real smile (all the others before this one were “gassy” smiles). It was one of the best moments ever! Like, you know how good it feels when you find great shoes that fit and are comfortable and they happen to be 40% off? Multiply that feeling times ten. And then ten again. Sometimes I fantasize how awesome it would be if Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food ice cream were zero calories but still tasted as crazy-good. Well, Jackson’s first smile was even more awesome than I imagine that would be.
The nurse was right; it is getting a little easier.
That’s not to say it’s easy. It’s still hard as hell. I still feel like a zombie. But the edge isn’t quite so sharp. Part of that is due, I’m sure, to my hormones settling down a bit. Those first three weeks or so they were haywire-out-of-control. I’m not a big crier, but it seemed everything made me weepy in those initial weeks. I remember a moment when I was so exhausted and still kind of traumatized by the whole birth experience and I thought, “What have I done? I was happy before. I had Drew and the cats and my family and friends. I was happy.” I felt like I’d made this HUGE change and there was absolutely no going back … which is exactly true, of course, but the magnitude of it — the utter weight of it — was a little too heavy at first. I needed some time to summon the strength to hold it. Thankfully, my hormones calmed down and I was able to mellow out a little bit and find enough strength to hold everything up (not that I’m holding it up by myself — Drew has been incredible).
I’m still exhausted. Jackson doesn’t quite sleep through the night, although he’s getting closer, and he still has days where it seems he does nothing but scream his little head off (which usually corresponds on a day when the site goes bananas). But, despite my fatigue, I feel better equipped to deal with it. People keep telling me that everything changes once you have a kid and it never goes back to how it used to be. Once you become a parent, for example, you’ll never sleep like you used to — even when your baby does manage to sleep eight or nine hours at a stretch. But you get used to your new normal. You adjust. And I guess that’s what I’m doing. I’m getting used to this new normal. I’m adjusting.
And when I look at that face up there, oh man, the adjustment’s worth it.
lets_be_honest November 23, 2011, 11:02 am
He’s just beautiful and I thank you again for preaching the truth about your experience. Its all so honest and I only wish I had access to these little stories of yours when I had my baby. Glad you’re feeling better.
Addie Pray November 23, 2011, 11:29 am
Oh man, look at that little face! I want to smother it with kisses. Wendy, how do you feel about strangers wanting to kiss your baby’s little face off? I guess that’s odd.
Taylor November 23, 2011, 11:47 am
I love your honesty Wendy! We’re approaching the trying-for-a-kid mark (starting this summer), and I have a feeling I’ll be rereading these a lot!
bethany November 23, 2011, 12:05 pm
I’m glad to hear that things are getting better for you guys!!! He’s adorable and you’re doing a great job! Keep the baby pictures coming! I love them!
Tax Geek November 23, 2011, 12:08 pm
>he still has days where it seems he does nothing but scream his little head off (which usually corresponds on a day when the site goes bananas).
I’m guessing those are related. He may be reacting to your reaction.
JK November 23, 2011, 1:23 pm
My thoughts exactly, it´s amazing how kids can read their parents.
AKchic November 23, 2011, 12:28 pm
Like I said – it does get better. If you do decide to have another one down the road, I can tell you that subsequent pregnancies and post-partums aren’t the same as the first. Every pregnancy/post-partum is different. Even with the same woman.
If you can, find someone to watch Jackson for a few hours so you and Drew can go out by yourselves. Trust me, it is worth it to get out by yourselves. Even for an hour.
amber November 23, 2011, 1:46 pm
That little face is just too cute! And i remember the first time my friend’s baby smiled at her. She was so cute, she texted something to the effect of he really does like me, haha 🙂
ncp November 23, 2011, 2:03 pm
He’s absolutely adorable! The first six weeks are truly exhausting.
I read an article recently that in other cultures women are less prone to the “baby blues” and post-partum depression because there is a true culture of support and pampering of the new mother. An entire village of women descends on the house to pitch in with food, cleaning, help, advice, and company so the mom isn’t overwhelmed and lonely and can just lie in bed and recover and bond with the baby. That’s something very much missing in our “go it alone, pull yourself up by your bootstraps” American culture, which leads to new mothers feeling very isolated and overwhelmed with adjusting to the biggest change in their life.
So don’t hesitate to ASK FOR HELP. Call up a friend and say “I’m feeling overwhelmed, can you come over and share a pizza and chat for a while?” When people ask how they can help, take them at their word and give them something to do (take out the trash, load the dishwasher, clean out the litter box), so you don’t have to do everything. Create your own village, and you’ll feel less lonely.
MonMon November 23, 2011, 3:01 pm
love this post. Wonderful advice 🙂
Skyblossom November 23, 2011, 2:33 pm
I’m so glad that things are getting easier. Hurray for all three of you! I don’t think there’s much of anything that can compare with that first smile. It is certainly a huge payback for all the care you’ve done up to that point. You have a wonderful year ahead of you with loads of fun firsts. Just wait until you get the first belly laugh and all three of you laugh together! It really is fun even though you don’t get any of it during the first few weeks.
It’s perfect timing that this is happening for Thanksgiving so that all of you can enjoy the holiday!
SimonTheGrey November 23, 2011, 4:43 pm
Thank you for being honest about sharing your experiences. Even when they SERIOUSLY make me reconsider my desire to eventually be a mother, I appreciate hearing them.
neuroticbeagle November 23, 2011, 8:14 pm
How are the cats adjusting?
Britannia November 23, 2011, 11:26 pm
I just want to mention, you and Drew (or whoever’s wielding the camera) are taking some AMAZING photos of Jackson! You’re going to have the best baby album ever for him when he grows up.