I always thought it was customary for new moms to look a bit tired, disheveled even. Typically a new mom has just pushed or had a human surgically removed from her — doesn’t that sound tiring? She has endured a world-wind of emotions, pain, hormone fluctuations and survived all that to have a human or in some cases, a machine systematically suck milk from her breasts — yep, sounds tiring to me! While breastfeeding is a beautiful bond between mother and baby, the bond between mother and pump is not so picturesque, but I digress.
Aren’t people always griping about the ‘fourth trimester’? Did I misinterpret the message from the moms that came before me? No, I’m sure I didn’t. So it must be me. I must be some sort of fake new mom, right? The surprised tone in your voice when you tell me how tired I look certainly conveys that message. I get it, it’s confusing because you haven’t actually seen me and my baby together. I don’t have the typical complaints about cluster feeding, diaper blowouts and how many times the baby woke up the night before. But I’m not faking new motherhood, folks.
I am no different than any new mom I have known, but my tired is different.
Here’s a glimpse into my version of new motherhood:
I look tired because I don’t have the luxury of experiencing new motherhood in my home. The place where I feel safest and most secure is the place I spend the least amount of time. I look tired because despite the fact that I don’t hear my kid crying for me at 2 or 3am I am up at my pump making sure milk will be made available to him when he needs it. I look tired because I have to go to work every morning despite only getting a few hours of broken sleep. I look tired because I lug around the weight of a baby but instead of an adorable cooing creature, it’s a bag full of equipment I need so I can stop what I am doing every two hours and sit at my pump. I look tired because despite the best intentions of friends and loved ones I still have to do dishes, lug the laundry to the laundry mat and try to keep my home together.
Mostly I look tired because having a baby in the NICU is the single hardest thing I have ever experienced in my life. Worrying about O2 saturation, Brady’s, feeding tubes, and nasal cannulas is how I spend my days. I look tired because I was at the NICU until late and back again bright and early. I look tired because the moment my son’s chest meets mine it’s like the weight of the world has been lifted and I finally feel at peace.
It won’t be this way forever but right now this is exhausting. So yes, I look tired.