Benjamin turned six weeks old a few days ago, which means I’ve also been a mother for a month and a half. I’m not quite sure how that happened, to be honest. (Well, duh, I know HOW it happened… you know what I mean. I have to figure out how to put sentences together after all this time somehow.) I have wanted to be a mom for basically my whole life, so I had a lot of ideas about what it would feel like and how I would handle it. But obviously, it’s simultaneously everything and nothing like I imagined all those years.
Benjamin is amazing and adorable and perfect. More often than I should probably admit, I just stare at him. (Or if he’s sleeping and I’ve already stared at him? Then I go through the photos and videos I’ve taken of him on my phone.) I can’t believe Dan and I made him, or that we created someone so absurdly beautiful. Am I biased? Of course. But he’s also ridiculously cute. He’s littler than I expected, and after all those weeks of being afraid gestational diabetes would mean I had a giant baby, he fit into newborn sized clothes for over a month. He’s starting to lose his baby hair, which makes me sad. But bald babies are pretty adorable, too. His eyes continue to be a mystery. For a while they were gray with brown centers, but now I’m not sure if they’re tinging green or maybe brown? (I CANNOT HANDLE the suspense. We waited nine months to find out he was a him, and now I’m still waiting to find out his eye color? I just want to KNOW.) In the last week, his face has filled out and he’s gotten bigger again and he suddenly looks like a totally different baby to me. I know it happened gradually, but it felt like all of a sudden he’s bald and almost chubby. He’s still a tiny little guy, but he’s also so much bigger already.
I was worried about depression and being alone with him and being able to handle all of the huge emotions. I didn’t really think to worry about recovering from major surgery, and luckily, that part has gone remarkably well. I am feeling more like myself, physically, and so grateful for that. I blame the diabetes for the weight I have lost already, but let’s face it: I started pregnancy at a much, much higher weight than I was okay with. And I have some work ahead of me to get more healthy so I can avoid type two diabetes in the (near) future (not to mention gestational diabetes in any potential future pregnancies), since I learned this week I’m at a pretty high risk for it. (My doctor wondered if maybe instead of blaming diabetes for my postpartum weight loss so far I should perhaps CREDIT it. … Oh. Right.) I am having trouble with that part, honestly, because most people do magically go back to non-diabetic as soon as their babies are born. Emotionally? As far as I can tell, I’m doing okay, most of the time. Other than the exhaustion-induced crying that happens many days around 9pm. And if I could find a way to take everyone’s advice and nap during the baby’s daytime naps (…instead of writing blog posts, I GUESS. Priorities.) that would probably get easier.
Breastfeeding did not work out how I wanted, and that has been really difficult. I thought I had prepared myself for either eventuality, that some people have wonderful, lengthy nursing relationships, and others have a really hard go of it, but it turns out I hadn’t really prepared myself at all. It broke my heart that I couldn’t nurse him the way I was supposedly designed to do. It made me angry at my body for failing me, after I felt like it had already failed me with diabetes and labor. It made me jealous of all the people I know who produced enough milk to keep nursing or pumping for their babies for months. I had read all the books and was so prepared, intellectually. Except that, like having a baby, you don’t know how it’ll go for you until you try. So I cried about it. And then we bought some formula, and oh, duh. The baby doesn’t cry so much when he’s not STARVING. And then it got a lot easier.
Do I feel like someone’s mother? Most of the time, I’m not sure I do. I’m not sure I feel like my old, pre-pregnancy self, either, though. I’m sort of in this middle ground, learning how to be this new version of myself, while also trying to figure out how the old me fits in. It’s a blur, for sure, and I rarely know what day it is. I knew I’d be beyond exhausted, but I also figured I’d be unable to function at all. In reality, it’s more like I feel mostly okay most of the time, until I hit a brick wall and everything makes me cry. Is that what it’s like for other new moms? I don’t really know. Some days, when Dan gets home from work, I’m so far past the end of my rope that I want him to take over everything and go sit somewhere else. But other days, Ben’s alert and cooing and adorable, and then he naps in the wrap snuggled below my chin and our breathing syncs up and everything feels exactly like I always imagined. But we’re learning day by day, and it’s the greatest thing ever, even though sometimes it’s simultaneously really, really hard.