I like to think that I was prepared for motherhood. I read books on pregnancy, newborn care, and infant sleep. I took a pregnancy class. I listened to a natural birth podcast. I talked to nearly every mother I know. I was prepared for (but terrified of) the exhaustion. I was expecting the nursing pain. I had an idea of how deeply I would fall in love with my baby the minute I heard her cry. I knew what to expect. I was ready.
Two weeks ago, in a moment of frustration when my baby decided that she would no longer take a bottle, making it impossible for me to leave her for longer than three hours, I had a breakthrough (instead of a breakdown, thankfully). I realized that the thing that surprises me the most about motherhood is the amount of responsibility that falls solely on me as Harper’s mother.
I have an amazing husband. He has the ultimate responsibility of taking care of and providing for everyone in our household. That’s a pressure I will probably never feel and I am so grateful to him for taking it on every single day. On top of that, he is always there for me. He comes home every evening asking what he can do to help and Harper lights up and gives her biggest smiles as soon as he walks into the room. We are so blessed to have him. But, like he always says, when it comes to the baby, I’m in charge.
My day with Harper begins around 8am. I feed her, change her, play with her, change her again, rock her, and put her down for a nap. That cycle repeats itself four or five times a day with an errand or two thrown in the mix. Around 8pm, Sam bathes her while I clean her room, pick out her pajamas, turn on the white noise and humidifier, and pick out our bedtime books. We get her ready for bed together and then I feed her, read her a book or two, and rock her while playing our favorite lullaby. I lay her down, praying she’ll go straight to sleep, but she usually cries for a few minutes. If she does cry, I’m the one who goes into her room to calm her down and get her back to sleep.
Once she finally falls asleep, I eat dinner, shower, write and spend time with my husband until I can’t stay awake any longer. It feels like the minute I fall into a deep sleep, and sometimes before I can even get there, she’s awake and crying, ready for her night feeding. I turn the monitor down so she doesn’t wake Sam and stumble into her room. I pick her up, change her and nurse her back to sleep. I’m back in bed in twenty minutes, but it takes me much longer to fall back asleep. I finally fall back asleep just before Sam’s alarm goes off for the day, and far too soon after that, Harper is ready to start her day as well. And the cycle continues.
Although that sounds pretty monotonous, I love being a stay at home Mom. I love that I get to watch her master all of her milestones. I love being the first person she sees in the morning and the last person she sees before she falls asleep. I love that she smiles and squeals when I pick her up out of her crib. I love that I have been able to breastfeed her this long and hope to do so until her first birthday. I even love that I’m the only person who can calm her down when she’s overtired and hysterical.
I love love love being a mother. So why does it feel so draining sometimes? Sometimes I resent breastfeeding, even though it has come so naturally to me and is the healthiest for my child. Some days, I ignore all of my household chores because isn’t taking care of this tiny human enough? Some nights I find myself snapping at my husband when he wants to cuddle on the couch because can I please just go one hour without someone touching me? (That sounds awful, but it’s the honest truth.) When Sam wants to go to the driving range after work, all he has to do is call and let me know. He doesn’t have to make sure I’ll be home to watch the baby or try to find a babysitter. Meanwhile, I’m going to a concert this weekend and I know I won’t be able to fully enjoy myself because I’m worried that she’ll refuse to eat or cry at bedtime because I won’t be there. I can’t do anything (eat, drink, book a vacation) without thinking about how it will affect my child first.
I thought I knew all of this before I had her, but it caught me completely by surprise. No book or class or podcast could have prepared me for it. And there’s honestly nothing I would change about it. I was born to be a mother and I am beyond blessed to be one. It just feels good to admit to myself, and to my husband, that I wasn’t as prepared as I thought I was and that I’m still figuring out how to handle it all.
Moms, what surprised you the most about motherhood?