I am too tired to be blogging right now. Each night, once Ivy is asleep, I have to choose between going to bed ridiculously early or utilizing those precious moments for a mental break and/or something social/productive. Some (many) nights, it’s Dr. Mario on NES, a gloriously mindless yet mindful activity. Tonight, I’ve decided, the time has come to write. I just finished reading an awesome memoir (Hunger by Roxane Gay), and reading well-written books always reinvigorates my passion for documenting my own thoughts.
“Let’s start at the beginning, a very good place to start”…
Why am I so tired? Shouldn’t my 7 month old be “sleeping through the night” by now?
Myth/Half-Truth #1 – Babies will sleep through the night by 6 months
Capable of sleeping through the night? Perhaps. Actually doing so? Statistics be damned! Ivy did sleep for 11 hours straight one magical night. It gave me so much hope for our future, but it did not stick. It has never happened again. Most nights, she wakes up two or three times. Some nights, it’s better, and some nights are just terrible. I haven’t found the energy, patience, or emotional fortitude to properly “sleep train” her. I do have rare moments where I can stand to let her cry for 5 or 10 minutes at a time before going in to soothe her, but overall, I just can’t take it. The stress of listening to Ivy cry supersedes my love of slumber, and so the sleep deprivation saga continues.
Myth/Half-Truth #2 – You are never ready to have a baby
Sort of. It’s true that you can never possibly understand the overwhelming nature of parenthood until it swallows you whole. BUT. There are BETTER times to have a baby. Putting pressure on someone to get pregnant when they are still “on the fence” is a great disservice to that person and society. Being a parent is quite literally the opposite of a cake walk. Having my first baby at 29 felt just about perfect to me. I spent my 20s living it up and experiencing the joys of being a broke college student (and post-grad). I found the strength to leave an abusive relationship and overcame disordered eating. I found someone who treated me well. We had a few good years to start building a home together before deciding it might be about time to bring another human into it. But even after coming to the conclusion that I was ready, when baby was actually HERE, I wasn’t so sure anymore. I felt woefully unprepared, emotionally and physically. Therefore, I’m sure having a baby at 21 was something I could have handled, but for me, waiting was definitely the way to go.
Myth/Half-Truth #3 – “It gets better”
I mean, yes…but also, no. It gets different. If we have to boil it down to simple statements, then yes I suppose life is generally easier after the newborn stage which is its own unique version of hell. A hell where you give every ounce of yourself to this being that you are so obsessively attached to, without receiving so much as a smile in return for your suffering. However, I’m starting to wonder if some of this eventual ease is more accurately described as tolerance. When you first become a parent, everything is so scary and overwhelming. After a month or two, you may start to feel some semblance of confidence, but there are so many different challenges along the way to upset whatever progress you think you’ve made. (Sleep regressions/teething anyone?!) When Ivy was still a newborn, more than one older woman said to me “Oh, don’t you just wish they could stay like this forever?” Horrified at the notion, I thought How much worse is this going to get?!?!
Myth/Half-Truth #4 – Breast milk is nature’s perfect food.
OH really? Well then can someone please explain to me why my daughter spent the first few months of her life barfing all over everyone and everything? She was formula fed for a very short time before my milk came in, but after that she was exclusively breastfed until right around 6 months. I tried just about everything that was scientifically and (via internet mom chat forums) anecdotally recommended to tame her spit-up sessions: a dairy and soy free diet (for me), a wedge for the head of her crib, special bottles with vents, extra burping, probiotics, chiropractic care, feeding less but more often, letting her sleep in her bouncer (shhh…parental sin), holding her upright for 20-30 minutes after meals (super fun in the middle of the night by the way). But alas, the barfing continued. Apparently, babies are born with immature digestive systems, so it’s normal for them to upchuck all the time. Was Mother Nature drunk when she created this recipe? If a baby is meant to be nourished by said substance, than said substance should probably stay in baby’s tummy where it belongs. I mean, really. It seems to me that evolution should have figured this mess out by now.
Myth/Half-Truth #5 – It’s only a matter of time before you get back to your old self
Except the part where that person doesn’t exist anymore. There’s no such thing as becoming a parent and staying whoever you were before that monumental moment. Of course you’ll still enjoy most of the same things. Some of your hobbies will wait for you to find the stamina to take them up again. Others will jump ship when they realize they’ve been replaced. But nothing will ever be the same ever again. Your schedule and priorities will likely change and your worldview will be altered, for better or worse. In the adoption of this new role, you will inevitably become a different version of you.
A couple of things “they” got right:
Even if you hate kids, you will love your own
This is very true. In fact, you might find yourself disgustingly in love with your child. There have been several occasions when I was beyond relieved to have put Ivy down for a nap or bedtime, so I could finally have some “me time” only to find myself scrolling through pictures of her and watching videos of her doing something mundane (to the average viewer of course, FUCKING ADORABLE to me! 😊 )
Having kids is insulation for the future
I believe this to be true. It’s not so much that I worry about who is going to take care of me when I’m older, it’s more that I like the idea of having an emotional touchstone. I can’t imagine what the grief of losing a parent will feel like, but I have a sneaking suspicion that having a child of my own will help lessen the burden. I find comfort in the idea that it might feel a bit more like passing a torch rather than watching a torch burn out completely.