I’ve been hibernating since baby M’s arrival. My days have largely been about readying kids for school, pick-ups and drop-offs, nursing and cuddling, laundry and more laundry, and carving out some time to work on a project. (And did I mention the laundry?)
It’s been eight weeks since my little girl arrived earth-side. When I look at her, it seems like time is flying by at rocket-speed. But then I stop to consider what the past eight weeks have included…
We’ve gone from Thanksgiving to Christmas, with my eldest’s birthday in between, and into a brand new year. We organized a birthday party and hosted a neighbors’ happy hour and managed to get Christmas decorations up and down and put away, once again. I’ve been to family gatherings and planned a vacation and purchased a new car and scouted out some nearby towns (an unresolved question for us – to stay or go?) I’ve even managed to clean out all of my kids’ drawers and closets and hand-me-down-boxes – and packed up some twelve or so bags to donate.
But before you rush to the judgment that I’m rocking these post-partum days, I will tell you this: a few weeks ago, my mom arrived late on a Saturday morning in response to my desperate text messages. I felt like I was hanging on by a thread.
After being with me for a couple of hours, she took my not-yet-3-year old back home with her – for a full six days.
She wanted to lighten my load so I could get it back together.
I’d been riddled with anxiety as I anticipated what was ahead of me (like commitments I’d made for late winter that now overwhelmed me) on top of what needed my attention right now that I simply couldn’t tend to (each child seemed to have at least one. And they loomed large.)
I knew that I wasn’t in a good place as I sat by the fire on New Years, holding back tears and talking myself through the half-hour at hand. And giving myself a pep talk for the next one. And the next…
Sheeeeesh. That was a very long day.
I wondered silently and aloud whether I was dealing with postpartum depression or just sleep deprivation, ever-shifting hormones and a full plate. Or if it even made a difference what it was.
It was real. And I was struggling.
As soon as my third-born was out of the house, I did something I hadn’t yet done: I climbed into bed and napped. How… how had I gotten through the previous four or five weeks without a single nap (not counting the very brief and prematurely interrupted on-the-couch one?)
I was terribly sleep-deprived.
By day three, I began to feel more like myself again. My mood lifted. I was able to make a decision that I’d been hemming and hawing over; one that had been weighing heavily upon me. I made sure to drink more water and eat healthier foods (these things matter, but are so hard when you’re so freaking tired.)
Basically, I started to take better care of myself. It’s amazing what a little more breathing space can do.
By the time that my little guy arrived back home, I’d come to appreciate just how exhausted I’d been – and how much my life really had changed with this new baby’s arrival. I mean, how many times had I – or someone else – said, “(we) already have three, what’s one more??”
One more is a big deal. I am no super-mom.
It’s a day-to-day, sometimes moment-to-moment, trial of resilience. It’s a stand up and fall down and get back up again deal as I try to tend to myself and each child – and the changing dynamics between them. And then there’s all the other stuff on my mind that feels urgent and looming.
Since my mom’s intervention, for the most part, I feel re-energized and confident that I can do this well (enough.) I’ve gotten myself back into a routine of sorts, which definitely helps. But then I’ve had nights where I’ve woken to nurse my baby and been flooded with anxious thoughts and worries, making the following day feel like a long, slow trudge up hill.
And there it is.
There are moments when I feel so wound up – and caught up – in a state of overwhelm or anxiety or even anger towards one of my kids. I feel incompetent and crappy and regretful, even. And then, it shifts. I find perspective and grace and all I want to do is just hold and snuggle and kiss these little monsters of mine – and appreciate all the good that’s right here.
And it is.
It’s all mixed in and mixed up and waiting to be acknowledged. The awesome, the shitty, the somewhere-in-between.
And I’m sharing all of this because it’s why I haven’t posted anything here or elsewhere. I haven’t had the bandwidth, frankly. And when I do have the energy, I’m working on a speech about braving, whole-heartedly.
(Like sharing your mess when you’d rather hide it.)
So there it is, my friends. There it is.
And now, I’m going to go sniff this baby-of-mine’s head because, really, is there anything sweeter in life?