The New Normal – Life After Newborn
My first few months of motherhood were the longest days and fastest weeks of my life. I felt like I had everything under control at the time, and now looking back it just seems like a milky, teary (good and bad), diaper-y blur. We were lucky, so we had a constant flow of baby gifts, congratulations, and hot meals brought to our door. Everyone that came to visit saw that I had, in fact, kept my baby alive thus far, so I got lots of, “Job well done!” from friends and family. When we ventured out in public, we were met with winks and thumbs up from strangers and felt accomplished if we came home from going through a drive-thru and our baby hadn’t cried. It was hard, and it was easy. As long as my child was fed, no one cared if I binge watched trashy TV all day while holding her.
After a few weeks, my husband went back to work. I was more anxious about being home with the baby by myself than I was bringing baby home from the hospital. It was still so new, and I was still pretty sore, pretty tired, and pretty covered in pads on several parts of my body. In those days my to-do lists had about three items: shower, keep baby alive, grocery store. Many of those days I only accomplished one or two items on my list and still felt so incredibly drained at the end of the day.
A few months passed and my days looked pretty much the same. I stayed in my pajamas many days and changed into my yoga pants when I needed to run errands. My baby was fed and slept well, so sometimes I would even get a chance to catch up on laundry. But it all started to get a little monotonous. Instead of feeling accomplished that I survived another day as a mom, I started to feel embarrassed if I was still in pajamas when my husband got home. I felt like I was busy all day and had nothing to show for it. My baby’s cries started to get a little more annoying, and the clutter of my house started to really bother me. I started to wonder if the warm, fun ride of having a new baby was over. I wondered if the rest of my life was going to be watching the clock or the baby monitor, and if this is really the life I was hoping for as a mother. After all, no one was bringing us food anymore, or congratulating us. We were old news and even the old ladies at the grocery store stopped patting me on the back. So after a few days or even weeks, of feeling a little sorry for myself, I had an epiphany.
Get up and do something.
It was really that simple. I realized one day that while my child napped for three straight hours, I accomplished nothing. NOTHING. I just sat there watching the TV and the baby monitor back and forth. And while that was okay when my baby was five days old, it was no longer okay for me at five months. So the rest of the day between playing with my daughter and making sure she had eaten, I did several loads of laundry, made dinner, and even put on makeup. I was amazed how much I had gotten done, and felt good about myself as my head hit the pillow that night. The next day we ran errands, cleaned the house, had lunch with friends, and even went for a stroll at the park. I had leveled up as a mom. And I realized that I had arrived at our new normal. I finally had come to a place of feeling like my old self and my new self. And since I was no longer moping around in my filth, I enjoyed the precious time with my daughter a little more; her cries became less annoying, and I was no longer feeling dragged down by the list of things to do around the house because I was just doing them.
While I miss the days of just holding a teeny tiny sleeping baby in my arms, I realize that that’s not how it’s meant to be forever, and this new babbling, laughing, and scooting stage is pretty great too. I know that the new normal will change again and again, and our family will keep on changing with it.