When I had my daughter nearly four years ago, like any new parent, I didn’t know what to expect. I had beautiful expectations of loving every second of motherhood and things going smoothly. It was going to be so blissful and lovely. After all, she was my child and couldn’t possibly do anything wrong.
But after we got home from the hospital, the reality of what early motherhood is like quickly set in. And to be honest, I wasn’t sure it was for me. I can’t have been the only mom who at some point questioned what the hospital’s return policy was?
There were a few things in those first two weeks of parenting that I discovered. First, I require way more sleep than is reasonable for the mother of a newborn. I couldn’t function on no sleep, and as long as I brushed my teeth before my husband got home from work, I considered the day a success. I didn’t do any of the post-baby things that I had planned like workouts, long strolls or cleaning the house. I thought I would have so much time on my hands during maternity leave but it turned out a shower was a treat.
The second element of the misery is the constant fear that you live in. Is she still breathing? Did she get enough to eat? Did I swaddle her too tightly? I mean, if you can worry about it, I totally did. How can you help but worry? The hospital sent me home and basically said “good luck.” I was rejected from the SPCA to own a pet. How can I be in charge of this tiny human? And, I don’t know how I can worry like this until she is an adult. It can’t be good for me or her.
And the last surprise was the element of loneliness. I was the first of our friends to have a baby, which meant that no one understood what I was going through or why I looked like a hot mess all the time. They didn’t understand when I got excited about 2 hours of sleep or if her poop was the correct color and frequency. It was, in a word, isolating.
But as time passed, I got more confidence in my parenting, more sleep and more frequent showers. I consider the first two weeks of motherhood the “make it or break it” weeks. Once I made it through those two weeks, I started to feel normal even through my clothes may or may not have fit. I stopped questioning the return policy and started to feel like, “I can do this!” I realized she had no idea if I was doing a good job or not. All she knew was that I was caring for her and that I loved her.
Now that I am expecting my second, I think my expectations of bliss are significantly lower. I know that I will absolutely question our decision to have a second one at some point. It will probably be around 3:00am when I am up again for yet another feeding. I know that I will worry but that it is normal. I know that the feeling of loneliness will end when I start to get back in to my routine and out of the house. And this time, I know that I will eventually sleep again.
Knowing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel on some of those things is helpful. I also have learned a few things with my first child that will be useful this time around, which helps to keep my expectations in check. Every child is different and this baby could be totally opposite of my sweet Annelise, but I am more prepared going in.
The wild card this go around is going to be learning how to be a mother of two kids. I heard that it is a transition in itself. But my expectations are low for the first two weeks. I don’t think it will be blissful; I think that I will have to figure out the balance and juggling as a newbie again.
But according to the dictionary, bliss means perfect happiness. Looking on my first two weeks with my daughter my expectations may have been way too high, but seeing her little face was perfect happiness. As I look forward to the first two weeks with my second child, I am ready for bliss … but in a disheveled kind of way.