By Julie Warren
I ’m feeling for my sister. She is back in the throes of newborn baby-dom. She welcomed her second child a few short weeks ago at a petite 9 pounds 4 ounces … and she did it without drugs. No joke! Word was that awestruck women throughout the maternity ward spread this incredible achievement along the hallway grapevine as they walked through their labor pains. She became the stuff of legend. I think it is safe to say that her feat inspired more than one woman that day to deliver her own baby au natural (I am sure they later cursed her when they realized it was too late for the epidural)!
The birth of a child is a miraculous time where the joy and blessings of the new baby flood the mother with love and bonding. The natural pleasure of breastfeeding, so easy and comfortable, is a cherished moment for both child and mother. Adjustment to motherhood is seamless as the woman’s instincts take over and she easily sacrifices her own needs for those of her child. Wearing long flowing nightgowns and dancing gleefully with flowers in her hair, small rodents and chirping birds gather around to celebrate her happiness!
God, were we ever sold a load of bullshit! I swear our parents told us how great it was to have kids just so they could sit back and laugh their asses off as we lost our minds! “Oh please, please give me grandbabies!” (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). My sister and I appreciate the ability to speak candidly about the realities of parenthood, so I hope y’all won’t mind.
I got a great text from her the other day, “Motherhood Sucks.” Hardly the “Leave it to Beaver” version of motherhood that we were led to believe was normal! Honestly, I’m no June Cleaver, I like my sanity far too much. Memories of sleepless nights, endless crying, days that dragged on for what seemed like eternity, incredible feelings of isolation, crying for no apparent reason, and husbands who just looked at us wondering what we’d done with their wives highlight those early months.
I am sure there are some psychotic women who love every tortuous moment of sleep deprivation and engorged breasts! Yes sir, may I please have another! Who wouldn’t miss the days when our infants screamed if we put them down or bit our nipples? I am still recovering from the sleep torture my son subjected me to, much like a released prisoner from a Japanese war camp. We would have sold him to the lowest bidder during the “dark days,” as that period in our lives has come to be known. Anyone who messes with my sleep now is met by a wild and frenzied woman incapable of kindness or empathy. My wrath is terrifying, “Woe to the man or child who wakes my ass up!”
I am headed up there in a couple of weeks to help her out … support her so she can get through another week without losing it. I remember the great gift it was for someone to just be there to make me feel connected, somehow, to who I really was as I got lost in the mayhem of parenting a newborn baby. Having access to a sympathetic ear while I slapped my breast pump on for more solitary confinement was like a beam of sunlight shining through a trapped door.
The highlight of this visit will be when I take the baby for a nighttime stretch so that she and her husband can sleep for more than 45 consecutive minutes. The baby will be about 5 weeks old when I get there. I realize I could probably charge them for this, and I am sure they would pay whatever I asked. When she had her son, I offered her this nighttime treat for the first time in 11 weeks. It turned out better than expected, with him stretching through his next feeding, and sleeping for nearly 6 hours. I vividly remember her sleep drunk husband stumbling out of their bedroom completely disoriented asking, “Where’s the baby?” When you are this exhausted your body laps up sleep like a water-starved camel! I will be her slave. Having been in the trenches myself, I know the agony of those days.
Parenting is the hardest job I have done or will ever do. At the same time, it is the most inexplicably rewarding. In time, the worst days and moments are forgotten and all I remember are their smiles, giggling laughter and profound innocence. There even comes a day when, bizarrely, I miss those “dark days” — sour baby smell, nuzzling cheeks, and the hard won success of their deep slumber. I hope my sister can find some time to see and enjoy all of these things. I hope she can learn to ignore all the presumptuous bitches who offer their condescending, unsolicited advice. Perhaps a nice visual to distract her throughout the day would be her freely pummeling each of these know-it-alls about the head with a baby monitor! (God, I hate baby monitors! At the first opportunity, I threw mine out the window! Really! I threw it out the fucking window!)
I wish I lived closer to her so that I could be there more often to support her, and to help her beat off her mother in-law with a sharp stick. She and my older sister both came to my rescue when each of my children was first born, and for that I am eternally grateful. I will do my best while visiting to breathe some life back into her, to help her through the next several months. I am ready to jump back into the trenches (at least for a week). Hang in there, sis, I will be there soon!
Freelance blogger and writer Julie calls the Rocky Mountains of Colorado home. Published online and in print, Julie’s topics of interest include ontology, or what it is to be human, how to be your best self and pubic hair (not necessarily in that order).
Editor’s note: Many thanks to Julie’s alter-ego, Elle Mason, for the lead story in the last issue of Alice, “Moving Towards a New Life.” It made me cry.