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Who needs who, here?

Happy New Year! Kenneth turned 4 months old yesterday…. I wish I could say that it’s gone by so fast, but truthfully, it feels like it’s been WAY longer than four months. I have to admit, there’s been a huge learning curve that I never anticipated when it comes to caring for an infant. Don’t get me wrong, certain things came naturally:  Showering him with affection? Done. Easy. Changing diapers? Middle-of-the-night feedings? Check, and check! He’s a baby, and he requires a lot of attention, but I love the crap out of him so it doesn’t really phase me. 

It’s the little things that no one explains to you about becoming a mother that get me.  How do you balance keeping a home with caring for such a small, defenseless being?  How do you deal with the anxiety of putting him down to walk away and do something else that just doesn’t seem nearly as important, big-picture wise? It’s been really difficult for me to let go. At first, I felt so uneasy any second that I spent not focused on him. I had to have him within arms reach every second of every day (imagine my husband’s disdain when I realized I was a co-sleeper, and he realized he wasted tons of money on nursery furniture!).

I just went out for a few hours alone for the first time this weekend. When I say “for the first time,” I mean for the first time of my own accord. My husband dragged me out on my birthday, so we left Kenneth with a sitter for a few hours, and twice we’ve had to have someone watch him for a couple of hours when we went to counseling.  But just the other day, I had this very sudden, very strong feeling that I needed to get out. I needed to take my ‘mommy’ cap off for awhile, and just be ME.  It felt so good to hang out with one of my girlfriends sans baby, and though I felt a twinge of guilt when I walked out the door, it was appeased when A) I recognized that I left him with his daddy, and I can trust him to take the best care of our precious baby and B) I felt like a new woman when I got home. 

Today, I discovered that having him next to me is part of the reason I’ve found it difficult to get anything done around the house. I left him in bed, turned on the baby monitor (which we’ve used, oh, probably less than 5 times since he was born), and kept it close by as I worked on laundry, cleaning, etc. while he slept. And oh. My. Goodness. I got so much done! It’s hard to explain, but when he’s in the same room as me, I find myself checking on him constantly. Even now as I write this, he’s sleeping in his swing, and I’m glancing over there every 30 seconds, then losing my train of thought. It’s like my “maternal instincts” have been in overdrive since he was born, and are just now starting to wind down.  (I’m glad I’m seeing improvement, otherwise I was going to ask my doctor for some tranquilizers at my next OB appointment! Holy anxiety.)

Re-reading this, I know I sound like a crazy person.  There are probably lots of mommies out there who have had all of their shit together since day one, but I must admit, I am not one of them.  I don’t know if this paranoia is related to my miscarriages, or postpartum hormones, or sleep deprivation, or what… But it could be worse, right? I’m certainly not neglecting him! On the contrary, he is so adored by myself and his daddy. And he’s such a happy baby, you can tell that he knows it! 

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The hierarchy.

I’ve recently become aware of a hierarchy among pregnant women (courtesy of Facebook, which never fails to leave me feeling a little worse about my own life each time I log off).

At the top of the pyramid are the “Glow-ers.” The ones who progress gracefully into pregnancy like it was made for them.  Or rather, they were made for it.  These are the women you see on the poster in the dressing room at your local maternity store.  They’re typically laughing, with sparkly white teeth, and long, slender limbs that haven’t gained an ounce of maternity fat.  This is the part where I’m sure you’re saying, “Lindsay, don’t be silly.  Those women aren’t really pregnant.  Their bellies are fake!” Well, guess what? They exist.  I’ve met some of them.  And they make me sick.

Wait.  Before I continue this rant, let me put this out there.  After 2 miscarriages, I was determined to be a “Glow-er.” I just knew that I would come into my own, that all of that suffering had to be for something, and that once it was ‘for real,’ I’d be the most kick-ass pregnant woman out there.

Ha. When I look back on that naive perspective of mother nature, all I can do is laugh. If the pregnant population were sorted into castes, I’d be part of the Untouchables.

DH and I got married on my 2-week break between basic training and AIT.  Most soldiers don’t get a break, but with the Christmas holiday, we got lucky.  And I do mean, “we got lucky.” Because, really, what are you gonna do when you’ve been sharing a room with 60 females for 2 months, and had no privacy? You’re gonna go home, and immediately jump your man.  Duh.

Fast forward 3 weeks, and now I’m in Virginia.  God, I hate that place.  AIT is not where you want to endure your first trimester.  Everyone knows what the recommendations for morning sickness are, right? Get plenty of rest.  Eat small meals and snacks throughout the day.  Suck on “Preggie Pops.” What a joke.  I woke up in the middle of the night every other night to pull fireguard for 2 hours.  And even on nights I didn’t have fireguard, wake-up was at 0430, so we’re talking about a maximum of 6 1/2 hours of sleep.  Needless to say, most mornings my roommates waited for me to run to the bathroom to toss my cookies before bothering to get out of bed.  And the only time I snacked was when I snuck contraband into our room (i.e., the occassional apple). Otherwise, I ate when the army said so – 0745, 1130, and 1700 every day.  Yes, that’s 3 hours between the time I tossed my cookies in the morning to the time I got my first bite to eat.

On top of that, I’ve broken out all across my back, and nothing helps.  Once summer gets here, I’ll be covering up my dresses and tank tops with jean jackets and cardis.

My attitude has swiftly nosedived.  Whereas before I was a mild-mannered, kind, patient young woman who cringed at the thought of hurting someone’s feelings, I’m now more like a raging bull – don’t piss me off.  And if you do, run.  This is probably more unfortunate for my husband than for anyone else.

And, ironically, I cry now.  I don’t remember crying a whole lot before.  But these days, it doesn’t take much.  A song.  A commercial.  A glimpse at my waistline which, 5 months pregnant, still looks more like I ate too many cheeseburgers than it looks like I’m housing another human being (why didn’t I take more pictures of my post-basic, rock-solid body that I’ll never see again?!).  And, oh dear, my poor counselor.  Each time I step into her office, it seems like we’ve barely spoken when I let loose with the waterworks.  We’re talking snotty-faced, mascara running, twisted-eyebrows crying on those visits.  But hey, I always feel better afterwards!

I’m starting to accept the fact that pregnancy just isn’t very becoming of me.  It’s not everything I wanted it to be (except the ‘growing the baby’ part.  I’m glad that’s going well!).

But I must admit, each time one of my pregnant friends shows me her clearly-pregnant belly, or tells me what a breeze her first trimester was, or one-ups my baby news with her “twins” news, I briefly consider never speaking to her again.

“Glow-ers,” beware.  I’m happy for you.  Really.  Just be careful what you say, or I might bring out my combatives training.

Parting words of wisdom: It’s true what they say about recruiters.  They lie.  Don’t listen to a word of it! Especially that part about how they don’t allow birth control at basic training.  Just sayin’.