Oh, those sweet snuggles from a new babe. Those first days are so, so good. You're beyond excited that the life you have been preparing for and carrying for the past 9 months has finally made their appearance and you want to soak it all in. But it also comes with exhaustion, sleep deprivation and very little self care - because let's face it, you're newborn needs constant attention and you're eager to not let them down.
My youngest is fast approaching 4 years old but I can still vividly remember the whirlwind of those first few months. My corporate job had given my 9 weeks of paid leave. That coupled with FMLA and some vacation time had me home for a full 15 weeks. I cannot even put into words how much I was looking forward to this time home with my newest child.
I'm going to be completely honest here - those 15 weeks were absolutely NOTHING at all like I had imagined them to be. I mean, obviously I knew there would be midnight wakings and cluster feeds, after all I'd done this once before. But I thought we'd enjoy some walks outside in the beautiful fall weather. Maybe I'd even actually cook some meals. Turns out, my sweet little babe was going to have colic, we would struggle greatly with breastfeeding, and my anxiety would go through the roof.
My life became chaotic. Going for a walk through the neighborhood or a trip to the store became monumental tasks. My supportive husband tried to help, bless him, but our little girl could only be soothed by her mom. So, I went from being a very high functioning working woman to a milk making machine who could barely find time to shower. I didn't recognize myself anymore. Even worse, I started to wonder if this was just who I was now. That awesome chick I was before, was she just gone?
Some days I borderline wished I could go back to work early, just to have some sense of normalcy. But even when I did go back after 15 weeks, it was different. I was different. It felt as though I had outgrown that part of my life and I was not prepared for that feeling. There ended up being a lot of trial and error in figuring out what the path after adding another child to the family was going to look like. And it was hard not to get caught up in all of the negative emotions, even for an optimist like me.
After having a baby, you won't feel like the old you any longer. And you shouldn't. Because your life is changing and you are changing with it. That doesn't mean that you lose every aspect of your life before baby, but you'll gain new perspectives and new qualities. And the fog from the first weeks with your newborn, it will lift and you will eventually sleep and find time to shower. Or maybe you discover the holy grail of concealers and dry shampoos. Either way, you're still amazing.
*Photography by CB Studio