My Version of New Motherhood or Why I Look Tired

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.

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Happy Anniversary?

Birthdays, anniversaries, and memorials. Happy or sad there are thousands of occasions that are commemorated at yearly points in our lives. But do we ever stop to realize that on any given day when we are celebrating something momentously happy another person has just shed a tear at the reminder of something terribly sad? So is the case today.

Today is the day my god daughter was brought into this world but it is also the day my life changed like it had not done so before. Although our events took place a year apart the time lines, emotions and realizations are all eternally intertwined, leaving all who know their significance affected for a life time. It goes to the very core of how although technology connects us through social media, the internet and messaging, it cannot feel and it cannot help you tell someone that while their heart has just filled with joy, yours has just shattered into thousands of little pieces.

The birth of a child is always a joyous occasion, as was the birth of my little Addy. Huddled in the waiting area of Mercy hospital I paced with the anxiety of a parent, praying every minute that it would all go smoothly and that soon I would meet this little person who I was anxiously awaiting. Finally, they wheel out this tiny plastic box and inside was this tiny human princess. Sure babies are born every day, but they don’t all make a specified impact on our lives at all times. This one did. From the moment I set eyes on this child I knew she was a special one. One reason being I had no quams about grabbing her up into my arms swaddled as tightly as she could be and staring at her as if there was no one else in the room. While they were all really giving me the stink eye because they wanted to take a look.

One of the happiest moments of my life has been sitting on a chair in the crowded hospital room little Addy in one arm and big brother Michael staring at her as intently as I was while sitting on my lap. We were bonded together by our infatuation for the little bundle and every one else in the room melted away for those few precious moments. They don’t put that kind of stuff on Hallmarks people!

We associate the circle of life with one birth for one death but do you ever stop to think about it as one joy for one pain? I surely didn’t until the moment I realized the healing affects being with Addy had on me during my time of need. She didn’t know and I probably wouldn’t have acknowledged it at the time but taking care of that girl and being there when she needed anything from a diaper change to a kiss goodnight was the best medicine every prescribed.

Fast forward to exactly one year later. Birthday party plans are in place, but first an appointment. Actually it was a court date. One I won’t soon forget. We waited in almost silence, our names were called the papers were signed.

Mrs. and Mrs. once were now Mr. and Mrs. no more. Bring on the candles.

So today on the anniversary of these double wammies I remember, reflect and refeel all of the emotions I felt on those days one and two years ago. I’ve taken the time to be glad and proud that Addy is now speaking, walking and pretty much ruling her world but I’ve also reflected on my emotional journey and the new places in life it has brought me. My mind is like a museum with history on its walls and emotion through art strewn across like paint on canvas.

Lewis Carrol said it best, ” I can’t go back to yesterday- because I was a different person then.”

Down to my core I am different, forever changed by a tragedy and a blessing and I will forever remember that the circle of life is not so simple as birth and death but it is a mosaic of despair followed by success and a canvas full of black strokes and white ones. They all add facet to our character if we let them and all remind us that despite machines, we are all susceptible and touchable humans. We all feel human things and make human mistakes and no distance, time or ip address will change that.