Before I became a mom, I was basically the best mom ever. All of my ducks? Totally in a row. I knew I would still be productive, and social, and on top of self-care after the baby came along. I’d shimmy into my pre-pregnancy clothes, stand up like it was NBD, go to 13 Coins (where we were brunch regulars) with Alex at six weeks postpartum, and my pelvis definitely wouldn’t (still) feel completely broken as I pushed our 28 lb stroller the few blocks to get there. I would walk around the mall or park with friends, strap an infant onto my chest with ease and go hiking, put my baby who never cried in her car seat into my anything-but-a-Subaru-Outback to get to all of these places to do these things, and when I got home, I would find a way cook dinner like I did every other day.
My motherhood game was strong.
Well, the baby has been on the outside for three months, and guess what? All of the things I thought I would do, all of the ways I thought I would feel, and the person I thought I would be: I haven’t done, felt, or been. Like, at all. I have eaten more sandwiches one-handed while nursing than I care to admit, can count the number of times I have been brave enough to venture out, and I even drive a Subaru (though it’s not an Outback, but only because we hate the way it drives — so, at least I was right about one thing).
My how the mighty have fallen.
Childless me just didn’t get it. I didn’t know how exhausted I would be trying to feed and keep a tiny human alive. I didn’t know how my insides would feel in the weeks after birth whenever I stood up and especially when I walked (like they would legit fall out). I didn’t know that showering, let alone leaving the house, would be an accomplishment. As for the hiking, shopping trips, and the regular brunches I thought I’d be enjoying? No way, and no thanks. I’m going to need some serious recharging, motivation, and painkillers to make any of that sound enjoyable.
The image I had of my life was grand before I became a mom, but back then I also didn’t realize that anything I imagined of my life would pale in comparison to the reality. It turns out that there are far better things in life than YOLOing naptime on a hike with friends or trying on clothes in my pre-pregnancy size at the J. Crew in Pacific Place. I didn’t know that everything would change when a warm baby was placed on my chest. I didn’t know how much I’d truly love my child, or how I’d prefer being at home bonding with her than anything else. I didn’t know that a single smile could make my day or a joyful screech would be the best sound I had ever heard. I didn’t know how often I would laugh or smile, or how I would thank the universe, tears streaming down my face as I rocked my sleeping baby, for giving me the most meaningful gift I have ever received. I also didn’t know that naps were not to be toyed with or taken for granted.
When I last wrote a post, I was five days into solo parenting during the day while Alex went to work. Now I’ve been at it for close to two months, and worry a lot less than I used to about dropping her or whether or not I’m a complete failure as a mom. Nowadays I only feel like I’m a complete failure when it comes to self-care, or being more than “just” a mom. Unsurprisingly, I don’t really have time to do much for for myself, but this is par for the course when you have a baby so young. Taking care of my own needs and the needs of a baby is a balancing act, and I’m still figuring it all out. I’m sure I’ll get there soon enough.
My days with Kaia consist of lots of play and tummy time, reading stories, and listening to music. Sometimes Kaia will spend time playing independently while I do things like unload the dishwasher or put clothes in the dryer. She will go down for a nap (always on me) after about an hour of awake time before she gets upset, and nurses every 1.5-2 hours (and will sometimes go as long as a 3-4 hour stretch if she takes a particularly long nap). Bedtime is still not consistent, and most days I am lucky to get an hour where I don’t have to tend to a baby before I head to bed myself (this is probably what I find hardest about parenting). Night sleep has been hit or miss these days. Sometimes we get a five to seven hour first stretch, while other times we get a two to four. On a few occasions she has woken up every 30 minutes to an hour which makes for a really interesting night. Either way, she wakes up ready to start her day at 6:00-7:00 AM, and is her cheerful self regardless of how much or how little sleep she gets.
Kaia has been thriving, and seeing her personality bloom has been wonderful. She is so much fun to be around, and I genuinely look forward to seeing her face when we get up for the day. She wakes up squealing and making gurgling sounds, likes to kick, has finally found her hands (which she has in her mouth at all times), licks anything she can get near her mouth, and even rolled from her tummy to her back (once). Just this afternoon she laughed for the very first time, and it was amazing. We’ve discovered that Craig David’s song “What’s Your Flava?” is a surefire way to calm her down (sometimes Springsteen’s version of “Jersey Girl” will do the trick), and so is giving her a bath. Her dislikes consist of getting out of the bath, being put down after she has gotten out of the bath, and nursing from the breast with a particularly forceful letdown when she only wants to comfort nurse.
She is in the 50th percentile for weight (12+ lbs these days), and off the charts for height (about the size of the average 6 month old). Her doctor is impressed with her head control, and her development in general, and we are very proud of her. She is meeting all of her milestones, gaining weight and growing taller consistently, and is a very healthy baby. We are so lucky.
I was a few weeks pregnant with her this time last year. I was anxious, and happy, and wondering what life would be like a year later. Life doesn’t look the at I expected it to, and it is so much better than I thought possible. It has been three months since we welcomed this bubbly little girl into our lives, and being her mom is the best, hardest, and overall most rewarding thing I have ever done.