During pregnancy, I wrote a lot. Every week I told new stories of pregnancy horrors and delights. Weight gain, leaking boobs. Heartburn. Kicks. Anxiety.
I've written less since Owen was born. I'm so delighted and in love with him, and there are only so many ways you can write I LOVE MY BABY with words. Please note this struggle does not apply to Instagram because it turns out there are dozens and dozens and hundreds of photos you can take of the same baby. In one day. And I do.
I'm sorry, Instagram.
No I'm not, just kidding. This is why your lord and savior made an unfollow button.
However, I do have so much to say about motherhood, and I wish to be better about it. Because, holy shit, I am wildly in love with motherhood. I just want to mom all the time. I've never, ever relished more in a role. Except maybe that time I was unemployed for a week and sat on the couch eating potato chips, watching Netflix, and crying.
But my love of being this boy's mom doesn't mean it's empty of struggles. The struggles have morphed into something different and life-altering. I still cry. I'm still anxious. I still get mad at really stupid things. And big things. I feel gross within my own body. It's affected my marriage in good ways and bad ways. Our marriage is still so new. Parenting changes that. It's work. Every moment. I'm tired, but in a way that doesn't affect me too much. I've just learned to function on autopilot.
Last week I set out for a run on a beautiful evening. I had just five miles to run. I felt confident enough to suit up without my $40 pee-proof underwear, which was a mistake. What I didn't realize before childbirth was you don't just pee your pants while running. It isn't the same as squatting behind a bush to pee because you simply can't hold it anymore. You don't have to pee. Your bladder, as far as you knew, was empty.
Your pelvic floor gives zero shits. None. Before you know it, the bladder you trusted to be empty is dribbling. You can't stop it. You don't even realize it's happening until your shorts are soaked. By the end of five miles, your thighs are chafed because you ran while wearing wet shorts.
Your dignity has disintegrated. You throw in a load of laundry with a cup of vinegar because a potty-training mom friend recommended the method to remove pee smells. Except you're not potty training anyone but yourself, I guess. Yourself, a 36-year-old woman.
This only happens occasionally. But just enough that you certainly can't trust a run without those $40 underwear. You only have two pair, so you better do laundry a lot.
My former sports bras still aren't comfortable on nursing boobs. The same boobs that remain perpetually lopsided because one is an over-achiever while the other one does just enough work to get a passing grade in breastfeeding.
I only have two acceptable sports bras for running right now, and I don't want to invest in more because breastfeeding isn't forever. But, fuck.
I hate my boobs.
I remain insecure on high alert. I've always been insecure, but postpartum insecure is a fun, new game. I don't often feel pretty or put together or comfortable. Have you ever been married to woman who's given birth in the last year? I'm sorry. Except I'm not. I'm resentful that you're not physically changed, too.
But my husband witnessed the very gruesome carnage of tearing, cutting, barfing childbirth and is somehow still attracted to me, and I can't reconcile how that's a thing, honestly. Because I do not want to be touched. At least three times a day I'm attached to a machine in a storage closet that's extracting milk from my boobs. Several more times a day I'm attached to a baby who's doing the same.
My brain is in one mode: motherhood. I have one mission in life and it is to help this baby thrive. But I forget I have other missions, too. Like, being a person and wife and stuff. But everyone else gets to live their lives as they always have, enjoying happy hours and working long days because days aren't stipulated by daycare pickup and drop-off, sleeping through the night, being tired for simple reasons like staying up too late, running when it's convenient, like before work. Not at 7 p.m. when the day's burned a hole in your motivation and you just want to curl up and sleep. But after that run there are still loads of laundry to finish and bottles to prep and you smell, again.
Thing is, I don't miss happy hours. Or socializing. Or most things. I'm just resentful that I don't even have the option. Not without conversations and logistics and schedule swapping. You just are the mom. Mom is your job. It's expected. It's highly thankless. I mean, a thriving, healthy, happy little person whose love for you is the size of the moon is prize enough for the hard work, but, like, so much of a mom's life is invisible. Every day vehemently planned and scheduled and executed TO A TEE. Not a single miss-step. Never late. Never forgetful. The logistics, the planning, the doctor appointments, the food tracking. He eats on a schedule, he sleeps on a schedule, he naps on a schedule, he bathes on a schedule, he dresses according to the weather, he hates green beans.
I am incredibly organized and Type A, so I thrive on this stuff. I love being aware of every detail and assuring everything is Handled with a capital H. But my brain is so full, and I don't get to turn it off.
You sign up for this stuff when you become a mom, you know? But that doesn't mean it's not hard.
They say the first year of parenting is the hardest. "Just survive it." They say the first year of marriage is hard. I know having a baby takes a toll on the body and mind. So, when combined, I basically took a torch to my life and was like HAVE AT IT, YO. GODSPEED!
I work really, really, really hard to do my best and be a level-headed, rational person. I fail a lot. I'm still anxious when I'm away from Owen. I still worry about whose care I leave him in. I still don't feel ready to leave him overnight again. I often resent that I need to leave him every single day so we can remain a dual-income family. Who am I kidding? I regularly resent that. Sometimes it consumes my mind so heavily I can't think straight.
I worry about Luna, who's started eating random shit in the house while we're gone, like my spectacular birthday gift from Todd, the Pete Souza photography book from the Obama presidency. She ate it like a cracker. Tore it to shreds. Which, honestly, has me more worried about her political affiliations than anything. But is she pissed at me? Does she miss me the way I used to be? Does she feel less loved? She's not.
Motherhood is spectacular and beautiful and fulfilling. It's also impossible. Just enough difficulty to keep you on your toes, keep you humble, and to remind you you'll never be carefree again.
The only thing I do not question is how much Owen feels loved. And how much he loves in return. So while all of this is real life, there is no doubt that our son is so damn lucky and loved. And we are lucky. All I'm saying is he's the best and cutest baby to ever be borned, and you can fight me on it.
I'd do it all again for him.