Ahh yes, in case you couldn’t tell by the title of this post, “Reality,” has made it’s way into the Snyder residence. Our parents have gone back to their respective hometowns and now it’s just Caleb and I holding down the fort. I’ve heard other new moms complain about the things I’m about to complain about, and to be honest, I didn’t get it. In fact, I’ll be really honest… I thought they were being shallow. Ugh, it pains me to admit that. Well, consider me humbled because here I am in the shallow end, drowning.
While taking a shower a couple of days ago, I looked down (my first mistake) and realized that dangit, the jelly belly was still there. I know, I know… It’s only been 3 weeks, but it’s annoying. So I did what any normal woman would do, I started playing with it… poking it, squeezing it… really, I was trying to figure out what the heck it was made of. Extra skin? Water? Salt water taffy? During this investigation, I noticed some little purplish lines on my lower abdomen. WHAT THE (insert preferred exploitative here, but “heck” won’t cut it)??!! The whole pregnancy I had been on the lookout for stretch marks. I did find some mild ones on my upper thighs and considered myself lucky. I made peace with them. But THIS?! Um, not cool. They’re not even that bad really, but I just wasn’t expecting them. I had already done the stretch mark inventory and these were NOT on the list.
On top of all of this, or maybe I should say underneath all of this, is the unfortunate fact that I have not been sleeping well. I know that seems like a given for a mom with a newborn but I’m saying even for a mom with a newborn I am not sleeping well, and that, my friend, is not good. Lack of sleep makes everything more grim. Two weeks ago, had I seen those stretch marks, I would have laughed and said it it wasn’t a big deal. That’s what someone who is relatively rested and high on newborn drugs says. Well, I’m not high anymore. As you may have seen in my previous post (was that really only four days ago??) called New Mama Lifesavers, we are using a Snuggle Nest as part of our sleeping arrangement. All was going great, until about three days ago. Luca started becoming VERY noisy during the night. I thought something was wrong. We talked to our midwife, I consulted other mama’s, and everyone said it was normal. Normal?! Both my husband and I were convinced that this could NOT be normal. That’s what we thought until last night anyway. I had asked Caleb to help me out more last night as I had been going on two nights with very little sleep and was starting to feel a little crazy. I’m so thankful he did. Together, we discovered that Luca was…well, ok. He was sleeping peacefully, maybe that’s the wrong word, he was sleeping deeply, just very loudly. We were the only ones in distress.
This may be a good time to break and tell you a little bit about myself. I’m stubborn. We decided we were going to do cosleeping because it’s supposed to facilitate attachment and reduce the risk of SIDS. Attachment is very important to Caleb and I because of our schooling in clinical psychology. We really believe in that stuff because we’ve worked with clients and seen it all play out for reals. And SIDS, well let’s just say I’m not only stubborn but also kind of paranoid so I’ll do anything to reduce the chance of SIDS. So now I’m in a dilemma. Sleep is good. Crazy mama bad.
I think back to my pregnancy when I told different mamas (who asked) about our plans to cosleep. A couple of them told me that they had tried to do that but that their kid was so loud that they were practically forced to put them in another room so that the whole family could sleep. I am so thankful I met these women! They are kind. loving women with obviously securely attached children. Even attachment parenting founder, Dr. Bill Sears, stresses the importance of doing what’s best for the whole family. So you’d think with all this, I would feel like it was time to move him to his crib, right? Wrong. Remember the part about me being stubborn? Yeah, this is where that comes into play.
I don’t want to put him in his crib. I love being near him and the crib seems really far away. Even my husband doesn’t want to consider that option yet (He’s stubborn too). So tonight, we’re going to try our Arm’s Reach cosleeper which will take Luca out of our bed but place him next to the bed. In addition to that, we’re going to try using our white noise machine that we bought (ironically) to soothe our baby to sleep. Looks like it was actually a gift for mom and dad.
Luckily, we’ve been reassured by everyone that this is indeed a phase. Most newborns quiet down eventually and that’s when cosleeping becomes more facilitative for attachment anyway. Truth is, right now, Luca is sleeping in our room for our peace of mind, not for his. Later, when he is more coherent to the world around him, it will matter more to him to be near us. He’s technically still in a stage called “Normal Infantile Autism.” (For more info on that check out Margaret Mahler’s research on the topic, eventually I plan to post on it but until then, here’s a link.) And as for my jelly belly, well that’s temporary too. The stretch marks may be here to stay but it seems that even they will fade somewhat. Surely, my acceptance of them will evolve, it has to. All of this stuff wasn’t expected but it’s reality. I can either choose to make the best of it or I can wallow in resentment.
Thankfully, I have an awesome husband and friends whom I can vent to about this stuff. For you moms out there, I think it’s important to be real about what you’re feeling even if you’re afraid it’ll make you seem like a “bad mother.” I guess this is where finding balance comes into play… It’s important to be real about our feelings but it’s equally important to find meaning in our trials. I don’t like my stretch marks but when I look down at my beautiful son it is easier to accept them. In fact, in a way I feel like they are a testament of my love for him and for Caleb. I sacrificed my physical appearance, something us women value deeply, so that we could have a family. When I can remember that, it really does all seem worth it.
If you’re a new mom, know that it is normal to have bouts of the “baby blues.” You’ve given so much of yourself in the pregnancy, the birth, and now with a newborn. It’s normal to have feelings of resentment at times. Find someone to talk to whom you can trust. Get it off of your chest. Then, when you’re done venting, take a nap. My pediatrician actually recommends taking an hour a day to yourself. For me, this is where my blog writing comes in. Just remember that if you’re not taking care of yourself well, you can’t take care of your baby well. Try to keep things in perspective by remembering that now there is a beautiful child in existence because of beautiful YOU. =)