The New Normal

I've sat down to write a blog post at least seven times in the last week. I've gotten out my list of topics; I've sat with my planner open; I've started writing... and every single time, I get distracted (usually by Forrest). I've tried to write about postpartum bodies, about Forrest's first weeks, about fashion. About anything. When I'm sleep deprived and struggling to stay awake between feedings, diaper changes, and more, it's hard to focus on articulating thoughts correctly... even though I have a lot to say about my first few weeks as a mom. 

I have spent nearly everyday at home since Forrest and I were released from the hospital. Except for doctor's appointments, I don't really leave the house. Danny and I have gone out to dinner together, sans Forrest, once; we've taken him out to eat with Danny's family once. I went to the grocery store for the first time on my birthday. I have gone to my own doctor's appointment solo once. Every minute of my day is dedicated to Forrest and making sure he eats and stays clean. A typical span of two hours in my house looks like this: feed Forrest; put Forrest to sleep (can take 10 minutes or three hours); transfer Forrest to swing or rocker; pump for a minimum of 30 minutes; clean bottles and pumping supplies; do one part of one chore (put laundry in the washing machine; wipe down the counters; throw away the dead flowers in the vase on the kitchen counter); and repeat. It is, to be honest, exhausting... and then I get to spend all night doing it. Yay! 

In the wee morning hours of my birthday, I sat in my glider, rocking Forrest for about 45 minutes in the vain attempt to get him to sleep. It was 2:30am and, of course, the longer he refused to close his very sleepy eyes, the more I cried. I sang every lullaby I could think of until I sang "Happy Birthday to me" through tears. I wanted so badly for him to go to sleep, to have a good day with him, to go to sleep myself. Then, I looked down at his little face: he'd finally drifted to sleep, closing his dark blue eyes and opening his little mouth to snore. I loved him so intensely at that moment, more powerfully than I have ever loved anything in my life, that it made up for how tired I was, how sad I felt about my birthday.  

It is very easy to make life with a newborn sound all bad. To outsiders (those without kids or who don't want kids ever), it probably sounds like some version of hell. You squeeze a very small human out of the most narrow part of your body and then, immediately begin a year-long sprint of sleep deprivation. They can't lift their own head; they poop and pee all the time, sometimes on you; none of their clothes fit; they communicate through screaming and grunting at you. 

But the raw facts of life with a newborn ignore the really great parts. Yes, Forrest spent three hours scream-crying at me yesterday, but he then spent ten minutes on the floor with me, just looking at my face. Yes, I worry constantly about how much he's eating; I pump and measure and stress and chug water to make sure my body makes enough food, but when he falls asleep on my chest and I finally have time to take a nap, I sometimes choose holding him close to me for just another hour... just because. 

I try not to miss the things I used to do. I'd love to have time for scrapbooking, for journaling, for writing blog posts and hanging out on Twitter; I'd love to sleep for 8 hours straight, make a lazy breakfast, and drink coffee while I watch Food Network. I try not to beat myself up about my messy bedroom, about the breastmilk stains on all my shirts. Because while I am missing all those things (and it would be a lie to say that sometimes I just wish I could have one more day to myself to do all of them), I also love everything new in my life... I just have to get used to it and I'm not quite there yet.