Monday, September 1, 2008

Not like I thought it would be

In an effort to continue to honestly communicate my experience, below are some example of how I had imagined things would be compared to how they actually are. I will be the first to admit that some of my fantasies were only loosely based in reality, but as many of you know first hand - those fantasies are all that keep you going sometimes.

Fantasy: I wouldn't let anyone else but Brad hold LB for at least the first few months. I would let Brad hold her only when I had too.

Reality: Her very first day I was passing her around, at least while she was sleeping. I wanted to share our little miracle with all the people who have supported us over the last 6 years. It was if they had to touch her to understand that she was real. I suspect that was my bias, not theirs, but the fact remains that I was willing to let her out of my arms.

Within a couple of weeks, I was gladly handing her off to friends so that I could eat a meal and participate in an adult conversation.

Fantasy: I will appreciate Every. Single. Moment.

Reality: I have appreciated most moments, but I have a confession to make. She was only about 2 weeks old and had fallen asleep in my arms. I was exhausted and preparing to take both of us to bed. I looked down at her with the intention of soaking her up a bit more. Instead of the warm, glowing thoughts I expected, the thought that came to mind was, "Ug. I'm sick of her." I was. In that moment I wanted an off switch so I could put her on the shelf for about 10 hours and sleep uninterrupted. I couldn't believe I could have such a thought. Fortunately, Brad made me feel better by letting me know that he gets sick of me sometimes too.

Fantasy: I imagined my heart might burst trying to contain such happiness.

Reality: Truly, there are moments when I am just so happy that I feel like I have rarely felt before. It is even better than I imagined it would be. In those moments I want to tell everyone who is considering living childfree to not give up and keep trying. To do whatever it takes to parent. "IT IS WORTH IT!", I want to proclaim. (I promise I will do my best to never actually do that - I came too close to choosing that path myself and I still believe that it is a good option.)

Fantasy: I worried about having enough "Brad and Kami" time.

Reality: I sometimes ache to have more "Brad and Kami" time. At these times, I think wistfully about life pre-LB and wish I could have it both ways. I sometimes even wonder if it was a wise thing to do - to disrupt our (in many ways) very good lives together. I am glad that sometimes I remembered to appreciate our quiet lives together pre-LB even while I was sad that we weren't yet parenting.

Fantasy: I promised myself I would not over react to minor issues.

Reality: At about 5 weeks we had a minor mishap. LB kicked herself off the couch. She did a somersault and landed face down on the floor. I completely lost it. Even though it was apparent within a few seconds she was fine, I scooped her up in a panic. She stopped crying in about 2 minutes. I took me at least 10 times that. It was (is) terrifying to think that we could have so easily let harm come to her. I know Brad and I will remember that moment forever.

The one gem is that Brad and I didn't blame each other for it. Instead of "You were watching her!" or "Why did you put her down like that?!", we each took responsibility. "I'm sorry! I should have known she could kick herself off." and "No, It was my fault. I was watching her."

Fantasy: "Don't worry, LB, I will hold you." This is what I told LB while she was growing inside of me and our Someday Baby for years prior to her conception. I would say this whenever I saw a baby in a stroller or a car seat instead of a sling.

Reality: Sometimes I put her down. We have used a stroller (just once though). We have gone to dinner and left her in her car seat so I could eat without holding her. I have even gratefully discovered that she enjoys playing for short periods completely on her own. She seems to be surviving.

Fantasy: Brad will be the perfect father.

Reality: I have changed my mind about what "perfect father" means. We have had a few arguments over the division of labor. I thought we would be equals in childcare, but I found time and time again that he was looking to me to be the leader and primary care giver. When I asked for more (different?) he would ask me to point out a male that does it differently. I replied that I didn't know anyone, but thought he would be the one. When the stress was increasing because I was worried about going to work, we opted to have a session with KJ (our therapist). In the end I admitted that at this stage it probably makes sense that I am the leader when it comes to LB's care, I agreed that Brad had been willing to do whatever I asked and I would no longer worry whether he meant it or not. As KJ said, he is a big boy and if he offers or agrees to do what I ask, then I have to trust that he is willing. Things have been much smoother after that conversation.

Fantasy: It will be a bit harder to get back in shape after LB's birth than after Ernest's.

Reality: OMG! I don't know if it is the extra 3 months of pregnancy, not being able to exercise every day (at least to the extent I did after Ernest's birth - it was survival at that point), the years of fertility treatments while I self medicated with chocolate, or the fact that I am 40 instead of 36; but it has not been easy. Strike that, it is going ok, I am losing weight and getting in shape slowly , but steadily. I can't really complain and it is definitely worth it. What really surprises me is how flabby everything has become - from my arm pits to my knees. I expected the bigger breasts, I expected weaker tummy muscles; but I never suspected my tummy would sag. And what is the deal with my thighs? What happened to them? You would expect them to be stronger not weaker and flabbier after carrying around an extra 40 pounds.

For now, we try to get at least a short walk and some tummy time every day - she lays on her tummy and I do sit ups. I figure I have about 10 months until we try to get pregnant again so I am giving myself that much time to get back in shape. It will be close, but I think I can do it.

Fantasy: LB will be quietly ready novels to herself by 3 months old.

Reality: Since she can't even hold a book yet, nevermind read it, we have decided we need to give her a few more months. Harry Potter would be a good first book, don't you think?


Geohde said...

The thing that always strikes me about the reality is just how tired TIRED feels. I honestly don't remember much from day to day unless I take a picture or wirte it down. I feel like one day they'll be toddlers and it's all a blur!

As for post partum body issues...well......... :) . I think I've said quite enough on my blog.


Tracy said...

I enjoyed this post. You'd think I wouldn't, as I'm about to embark on post partum life myself, but I guess it's nice to see that somebody else is human, too, and that maybe the best idea is for me to have few expectations and just take it day by day.

You're doing great!!!

MrsSpock said...

I like this post, too. I'll think I'll have to write a similar one!

We have division of labor issues as well. I never thought we'd have disagreements over the value of my work over his, but it is happening. I'm still getting up 6 nights a week and putting him to bed every night, despite the fact that he's on formula.

luna said...

I love this post. your honesty continues to be so refreshing, kami.

battynurse said...

I like this post. I know that I have a fantasy of what life with a baby will be like and yet I also know that I am aware that the reality will likely be different. As much as I yearn for and desire the reality it scares me some too.

stacyb said...

great post kami...thank you for your honesty.

among other things i can relate to:
i have to say i too swore up and down that our little one would never be in a stroller ever. fast forward to week 6, my back is out from carrying her all the time in my arms, i can't find a sling that works for me...needless to say she now very happily uses both a stroller and an ergo (the one carrier that i was able to use).

RJ said...

Once again, I could have written this post (even the fall from the couch!), if I made writing a priority, that is. The thing I like the most about this post is that the reality is wonderful, even if not matched to your expectations :)


Summer said...

I'm so happy you are still blogging. I follow you not only because of DE but because of your honesty about how things are.

Thank you for writing about this.

Me said...

I enjoyed reading this!

Irish Girl said...

Your honesty is refreshing :) And I'm glad to hear it is wonderful and sometimes challenging and all of the things you shared with us. You're an inspiration, Kami!

Kate said...

It sounds like things are going so well! You're already thinking about #2!!! :)

Anonymous said...

I think we all have preconceived notions of how it will be when if FINALLY happens. But you know what...our super woman capes are at the cleaners.

You are doing WONDERFULLY!