When Elaina was born, I remember wondering what I did with my life for the 23 years before. Not in the “Oh my, my life is so beautifully complete now; those previous years were a waste” type of a way. But, in the “Oh my gosh, this crap is HARD. Why haven’t I been enjoying the easy years before?!?” type of way. I used to joke with Marvin that I wish I had been more irresponsible with my life before having children. “Gah, why didn’t I do drugs or something?” I mean, of course, I was kidding, but I realized that this was a new phase of my life, and the time for shenanigans was mostly over.
When you’re pregnant, people give you the MOST ANNOYING advice ever. I guess they feel like you’re about to join their club and they want to give you a heads up about what’s coming next. If you get through your entire pregnancy without hearing “Sleep now while you still can!” then you must be living under a rock. I used to hate hearing that. It sounds so….. negative. It’s almost like they’re excited that you don’t even know what you’re about to get yourself into. And, plus, you’ll hear it a million times. It gets old. But, it’s SO TRUE.
For Elaina’s first few weeks she ate every two hours. That means from the beginning of one feeding to the beginning of another. So, let’s break it down: let’s say it’s 1:00 and it’s time for her to eat. Ok, so I change her diaper and position her and myself in a chair for her to eat. She eats from each side for about 7 minutes and then burps. Then I get her to fall asleep. By this time it is 1:25. I try to take a nap because I’m exhausted. I fall asleep at around 1:35 and am promptly awaken by a hungry baby at 3:00. So, I slept for a solid hour and a half. Now, this is assuming that I used the in-between time to sleep. You can’t (unfortunately) just lay in bed all day and sleep and nurse your kid. You have a house to take care of. You have yourself and your husband to feed. You have to dress yourself and your baby and change (A LOT of) diapers. You have doctor’s appointments. You have visitors that want to see the new baby.
The first time your child sleeps for a 4 hour or 5 hour stretch (it feels like forever) you want to cry you are so excited that you got uninterrupted sleep.
I remember a few times Marvin was getting ready to go to work and I was sitting up in bed feeding Elaina with tears streaming down my eyes. I was crying because I was just. so. tired. I was so jealous that he didn’t have to wake up three million times in the middle of the night (I was breastfeeding, so he couldn’t truly help) and he “got” to go to work. It’s irrational and crazy, but it’s how I felt.
I posted a Facebook status about how silly I was to think I was “exhausted” before having a baby. People were offended. How dare I say you can’t be exhausted unless you have a baby? They went to school and had a job. They had crazy hours. They barely slept. I was amazed at how much controversy came from me venting about having a hard time in my mothering transition. I spoke to other mothers to try to get some support about the fact that I was TIRED and this was HARD. They said things like “at least you don’t have to go to work”. They didn’t even notice they were being dismissive. They didn’t even realize they were inadvertently saying “you think YOU have it tough? try being a mom AND having a job, now THAT’S tough”. I didn’t understand. It wasn’t a pissing contest. Both “jobs” have pros and cons. Staying home (in my opinion) isn’t the easier choice. Working away from home (in my opinion) isn’t the easier choice. They are just….. different.
The stay at home moms aren’t laying around in their pjs watching TV and getting pedicures in their spare time. They aren’t twiddling their thumbs. They aren’t going on fab shopping sprees and meeting friends for drinks. The working moms aren’t at work without a care in the world. They aren’t having fabulous convos with their co workers and not having to worry about their children. They aren’t coming home from work refreshed and full of outside stimulation. Both jobs are hard. They are hard in different ways.
The grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side. Maybe you’ve tried out both jobs and you find one is easier FOR YOU. Maybe you can’t imagine doing one or the other. You make decisions for your family. You choose which job you think is right for your family. That doesn’t mean you have to belittle the other side. It doesn’t mean the other side has it easier.
My friends tell me the transition from one child to two children is EASIER than the becoming-a-first-time-mom transition. They say it’s because you are already past the “my life will never be the same” shock. You already live your life thinking about someone else first. You already can’t shower or pee alone. You already aren’t living carefree. Life is already different. You are already in charge of keeping another human being alive and healthy. It just get a teeny bit more complicated with a second child in the mix. I hope they’re right because the first time it was HARD.