A. Turns them into whiny, overtired, frustrated, anxious, lonely wreck.
B. Causes a nervous breakdown
C. Makes them slow down and reexamine their priorities
D. Helps them let go
E. All of the Above
If you chose E. “all of the above”, you would be correct! At least in my case. It did all those things and for me, and in that order. For the first few days home from the hospital, I was in shock and awe. In shock from the long labor, lost sleep, pain and hormones. In awe of everything my newborn did from coo, cry, blink, nurse and even poop.
Then about a week later when I started to get really tired, still couldn’t walk down the street without feeling like my insides were going to fall out, wipe my privates without a squirt bottle of witch hazel, have more than 20 minutes to myself, find the time to check my email, couldn’t remember to eat lunch….I was Answer A. This lasted for about 6 weeks. Don’t get me wrong, I was still in awe every second, but I was also slowly losing my mind.
Answer B. happened at about 8 weeks postpartum. I was heading back to work in two weeks, hadn’t slept more than 3 hours straight since two nights before she was born, was sick of speaking baby talk all day long with no adult interaction, and hadn’t done anything I saw as “productive” for two months. At the time, productive to me seemed like deep cleaning the house, getting in a good hour plus workout, putting in a solid day at the office, or hosting a dinner party with friends. So what did I do? I pretty much lost it. I cried, yelled at my husband, couldn’t sleep, even felt resentment toward my daughter. My life as I knew it was over, my body was weak, and my mind was mush.
Then she slept 4 hours, and then 5 and then 6! With a little more sleep, I was able to start running again, preparing myself to go back to work, and was able to most importantly think clearly. I moved into Answer C. reexamining my priorities and adjusting my expectations of myself. My highest priorities were now my daughter, my relationship with my husband and my job. Of course my relationship with my husband and my career were priorities before. But now, they both took a little more effort and attention to stay on track. All of this lead to a big time crunch, meaning a number of my former priorities had to fall off.
Which brings us to Answer D. Letting go. And when I say letting go, I DON’T mean new moms should abandon everything they used to do. To stay sane and avoid another nervous breakdown, I continue to do the things I used to love before my daughter arrived. But I may not do them as frequently, as intensely, or as scheduled as before. And I’m ok with it. I don’t need to be at every party, fundraiser, restaurant opening etc… I don’t need to be race ready at any moment. I don’t need to stay late at the office. What I do need to do is just enough work, exercize and socializing to feel like me. I now work four days a week and am always out the door at 5pm. I hit the gym, the bike or the road a few times a week – enough to stay in shape and feel healthy. I make it out to dinner, and to a party or two a handful of times a month – just enough to feel like I’m getting out.
What I need now is to be with my family. Not because it’s my obligation as a mom and wife, but because I want to. My priorities have shifted, my life has changed, I’m still tired, and my brain is still a little mushy. But, I’m the happiest and most grounded I’ve ever been.