Friday, June 09, 2006

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly...

I love having a baby. I love my son in a way I never realized I could love another living thing on this earth. I love him so much it hurts and there are times at night when I wake up just to look at him, to make sure he's still there--that I haven't dreamt it all up and little Ethan is just a figment of my imagination. When he smiles, even though rationally I know they are gas smiles, my heart melts and I am just soaring. This is the meaning of my life.

I feel the need to say that, to make that abundantly clear, before I embark upon this post. Because this post is about how f*cking hard it is to be a parent and I don't want anyone to post a comment questioning my love for my son or my willingness to throw myself in front of a bus for him if the situation even remotely called for it.

I am torn. Between wanting to hold Ethan close to me 24/7 & wanting to run screaming from the house the moment Husband appears from his office at the end of the day. Between wanting to breastfeed like a champ, luxuriating in the bonding and the empowerment of providing my child with his sole source of nutrition, and wanting to go to Costco to stock up on the biggest canisters of Enfomil they have, letting my aching boobs dry up, never to be heard from again.

Clearly I opt to stay and hold my son and whip out the boob at the slightest indication that he might be remotely peckish for a nosh. Of course I do. And I love him with a fierceness that staggers me. But sometimes I catch myself on just this side of a panic attack. Because none of this is easy. The only part that comes easily is the love. The aching, unconditional, "I'd die for you" love. The rest of it is like the hardest geometry test I've ever taken (and if you've been reading for awhile, you know how math and I don't get along).

The difference is that this is a test I have to pass. In math, I could always just fail--what's the worst that could happen? It was a class and as important as it seemed at the time, it's significance in my life, in the grand scheme of things, was miniscule. It meant, I guess, that I'd never be an astronomer. But passing the test of motherhood--well, its hard to venture into hyperbole when consiering the importance of that. And there are times when I feel like I am teetering dangerously on the edge of a disappointing grade.

Everyone says that breastfeeding gets easier; they swear up and down that soon I will love it; that it will become second nature and I will be a pro--the encouragement is nice and there are times when I believe them. But there are also times when I feel like I would enjoy this whole motherhood thing so much more if I could give Ethan a bottle and a schedule and actually get a shower in more than once every two or three days.

I know that, due to the brilliant incompetence of my reproductive system in general, Ethan is the only child I will ever give birth to; therefore I feel incredible pressure (yes, from myself alone) to get. it. right. To be sure that everything I do with him and for him is right and perfect from the first step. If I quit breastfeeding because it is too difficult for me, I know I will look back later in life and feel like I let myself and him down. It's not about me--I don't come first anymore--so the discomfort, the frustration, the anxiety--they all have to take a backseat to doing what's best for Ethan. 95% of me accepts that gladly and willingly--5% of me resents it bigtime.

Because I haven't left the house in days. Because I haven't slept for more than 2 uninterrupted hours in a month. Because sneaking out to the grocery store for 10 minutes at the end of the day is a luxury. Because I haven't seen any of my friends in weeks. Because sometimes I miss Friday afternoon, drop down drunk happy hours with my "work friends". Because now that I'm breastfeeding, it is all on me. And it is overwhelming. And I feel guilty when I get overwhelmed. I want so desperately to be good at this. And sometimes I feel like I am being sucked down a drain.

Everyone tells you that you "forget the pain" of childbirth. A few women are honest and say that's a bunch of bullshit--the memory of that pain stays with you forever. What noone ever told me was hard it was after the pain of childbirth subsides.


ChickenMoose said...

Sarah - it's Deirdre from the nest. Just found your blog as referenced in some post. I think this is so well written and so true too. Loving something this much has just turned my heart upside down. In only 5 days!!

KMW said...

Everything you are going trhough is so normal...loving Ethan, and finding it hard, too. Just don't beat yourself up for how you feel! As a fellow guilty person, I am realizing guilt doesn't helpe anything. You are doing great!

miraclebaby said...

I can totally see how mch you love him and want the best for him, but getting out once in a while is going to be really necessary for you. You'll go nuts if you son't have your husband watch him once in a while so you can go do something for you because we all know that once you're a mommy the focus shifts and it is all about the kid.

And about the breastfeeding thing, I know plenty of people that do the formula thing for reasons they can't control, and you know what? Those kids are fine! They are healthy and well-adjusted and loved just the same. So don't beat yourself up if you try for a while and it doesn't work out. That does not mean you are a bad mom at all. Not to say I think you should give up now this instant or anything, but you are not a failure or a success based on whether you do the breastfeeding thing, in my humble opinion.

You are a GREAT mommy. And I so feel you on the only giving birth to one child. I don't know if we'll venture down this road again either....

Jill said...

Yeah, don't worry about the breastfeeding thing. It really will get better - but also don't worry if you decide to stop. I quit at 9 months with the first and 5 months with the second. I was thrilled to quit. Some people love it and some people don't. The babies thrive either way.

Erin said...

I have a 4-week old girl, and I hear ya, sistah.... I find I sometimes resent the fact that I'm the only one who can satisfy her needs.
My husband is not so good with the lil' one. He seems to think that he shouldn't have to entertain her and that all she should do is sleep. God forbid he should actually have to stand up and rock her. Grr. And then, after his 8 hour sleep, and 2 hour nap, he has the audacity to say, "I'm tired, and what's for dinner?" or my personal favorite, "Hey, while the baby's asleep, would you go to the store and get me beer and cigarettes?" He justifies this by the fact that he's working while I'm on maternity leave. Um, hello? If a baby isn't work, I don't know what is.
Good thing I love her so. And I guess he's OK too. He's slowly being trained. :)
Anyhow, if you ever need to chat with someone in the same boat, feel free to email me at

Amy said...

Woman, I have been there. It's shitty how no one tells you this is how it's going to be. Or they tell you, but in your smug pregnancy-induced haze, you think to yourself, "Oh that will never be me."

It's hard and sometimes it sucks. And yes, there are so many, many amazing moments. But there are some also really, really crappy moments.

I think it's hard for nursing moms. You really do feel like it's all on your shoulders. And even if you pump, if you can't pump ENOUGH, then you can't feed him that way either. You can't win.

That's what blogs are for -- so you can get it all out there! Hang in, it will get better.