Last week I visited the hospital where Judah was born exactly two years ago. As I drove home, along the same winding route, I found myself flooded with emotion as memories of that first year came rushing in.
The drive home from the hospital two years ago wasn’t so hot. It was my idea that Isaiah (then a mere 16 months old) should be with us to bring home the new baby. Unfortunately the timing coincided with his lunchtime and naptime. Isaiah banging on the metal bassinette as the cranky hospital nurse went through her endless discharge directions. And because I was holding a newborn and had a fresh C-section, I couldn’t physically restrain him. Although I tried anyway, sure I was ripping my stitches.
The drive home wasn’t any better. Both babies were screaming and crying. Not only was this a shitty moment, it went against all of my expectations for what the drive home with a new baby should be (and we all know our expectations of how things should be will always set us up for failure). I think it was on this drive when I had the first taste of that miserable anxiety. Wanting to either scream or get the hell out of the car.
Unfortunately this was only a foreshadowing of what was to come for the next 9 or so months.
So what would I say if I could go back and whisper something in my ear that day, two years ago?
That day when I was so tense and edgy and cagey and nervous and mad and tired and sore.
What would i say?
- take a deep breath and let it go.
- don’t be so testy. don’t worry about the rules. don’t find so much blame. so it was the wrong move having isaiah come with us. let it go. give him a snack. give him what he needs. and try to give the baby a reassuring hand.
- i’d say get as much sleep as you possibly can. for real. because every ounce of your health starts with getting sleep.
- leave the f*&^ing housework
- get grocery delivery for gods’ sake. it’s worth every penny.
- have martha, my angel of a housekeeper, come over. (actually, i hadn’t met martha yet.) find a martha–someone who will come over and spread their touch of joy around my house. someone who will see what needs to be done. catch me up on the laundry. bring groceries. hold the baby for me.
- find a baby holder. because this new baby cried every single time i put him down for months.
- god forbid find a different way than trying to get isaiah and judah up the steps after daycare every single day. i had all kinds of hangups about having a nanny, but in retrospect, it would have been so much easier.
- get on medication for postpartum anxiety sooner. talk to someone who would help me see that I had postpartum anxiety, something I had never even heard of.
- stop being so angry and find out what the root is. figure out what i need.
- don’t be so judgmental to my spouse about doing everything “the right way.” the newborn days are not about doing anything right. they are about survival.
- let it go.
- i’d go back and just give myself a hug and say just enjoy this time.
- find the joy in this moment and revel in that.
- find other moms. such trite advice but so helpful to see how others are coping and to laugh through tears.
- get out of the house more. that winter was brutal.
- stop having so many people over! why were we having people over every weekend? those visits that never seemed to end. Isaiah and their kids going crazy from being winter housebound. Me just wanting to go upstairs, put on pajamas and sleep w/ my baby.
- what if i just admitted to everyone that i was a total wreck? why was I so afraid to let that show? trying to keep up appearances was exhausting. i’d go back and say to all those visitors. “i’m a wreck. what day can you meet me at the driveway to carry these babies up the steps?”
- breathe. let it go.