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.