As expected, becoming a mom has meant learning a lot of new lingo. Almost five months into this gig, everyone in this house knows the difference between a Boppy, a Bumbo, and a Bjorn. We've learned about Ferberization and "STTN" and even my husband can tell you what a pocket diaper is and why it's different from a prefold. But what I wasn't so prepared for was the realization that I didn't know the true definitition of a lot of words I casually threw around before my world was rocked by the arrival of our son.
1. Tired. Everyone knows that new parents are tired. Babies sleep a lot, sure, but not necessarily many hours in a row, and not necessarily at the times when you can take advantage and sleep yourself. When my brother had his first child, he told me that the lack of sleep was the hardest adjustment. I sort of heard what he was saying, but I brushed it off a bit. I can function on very little sleep, I thought. I made it through grad school, aced tests after pulling all-nighters, and worked long days after staying up way too late the night before. Caffeine does the trick for me, and I'm a champion napper. Sure I'll be tired, but it will be fine I'm sure. The thing is, you just don't know the definition of tired until you have a newborn. At the very beginning I was riding on adrenaline and was amazed at how easily I adapted to not sleeping for more than an hour or two at a time. Somewhere around two weeks in I felt like I had hit a brick wall.
We have different levels of tired in this house. There's "forget your name tired" when you walk around in a daze and suffer from a bit of aphasia. There's "throw up tired" when your lack of sleep leaves you queasy with your stomach in knots. And there's "shoot yourself tired", when everyone should pretty much just stay out of your way. Just recently I discovered a new tired. You know the feeling you get when you've actually slept too much, and it leaves you groggy and out of energy? I slept for almost seven hours in a row the other night, which I don't believe I've done in well over six months. And the cruel irony was that I woke up feeling terrible, because for my readjusted self, it was entirely too much sleep at once. I know this will pass. We're actually making pretty good progress in the sleep department over here, minus a few hiccups that teething brought along. But when I hear non-parents complain about "only getting six hours of sleep last night" or "staying up until 2 am", I really have to bite down hard on my tongue because, YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW.
2. Joy. When I was pregnant I read an article about how having a baby actually lowers your average level of happiness. The highs are higher, sure, but the lowness of the lows pulls down the average once kids are in the picture. We have lows around here. Finn is just not that great of a sleeper. Teeth came early. Babies poop a lot. But I can't even begin to fathom that those challenges are enough to lower the happiness bar from the elevation it gets from the joys. There aren't words to describe the daily joys that having a child gives me. I have pinch-yourself moments every single day. I can't describe how happy I am in those moments. So yeah, poop still stinks. But there isn't anything that could take away from the crazy amount of joy that being a momma gives me. I know these were scientific studies that entered data into computers and beepbloopblip decided we were all happier before kids, but I just can't get onboard with it. And what is happiness anyways if not subjective?
Dear Old Me,
Remember when you laughed at the idea of constantly checking your child in the middle of the night to make sure he's still breathing? Remember when you heard about this crazy product that promises to alert you with loud beeping if your child stops breathing and thought it was ridiculous? Well, you still think it's ridiculous, but you bought it three weeks ago when your baby started refusing to sleep in any position except face down with his nose planted in his mattress. You thought you knew what worry was, but that was before you decided to take part of your heart out and stick it in a teeny tiny baby's body. Now you know, and now you're happy for any crazy thing that makes you feel like your baby- your heart- is a tiny bit safer.
Love, New Mom Me