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.