Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Appreciating the Little Moments

PJ was born in July 2011. It is now September 2011. Between then and now – and unlike the mythology of motherhood – there have been more dark moments than moments of joy. Going into pregnancy I knew that I was at high risk for postpartum depression but what I did not know was that the support I thought I would need was far from what I really needed. I was also ignorant that breastfeeding, something I had planned on doing since I watched my mother breastfeed my sister, was a learned skill for both myself and my son and it is a difficult skill for us both to learn at that. There were other things I had failed to understand: the power and the pain of short bursts of sleep; what colic is; how much a new mother needs her mommy.

To say we struggled would be an understatement not unlike saying the Grand Canyon is „big“ and German „a little tough to learn at first“.

Thankfully, my husband was also able and willing to take the first month of our little boy's life off of work. I'm not sure what would have happened had I been alone. With him in the house, cooking, cleaning, shopping, encouraging, reassuring me and PJ (often literally at the same time), I could yell at him, slam doors at him, cry at him, and – most importantly – blame him for all this insanity instead of our little boy, just days and then weeks old.

Not that our son remained untouched by all of this. Breastfeeding was so difficult and so painful that I exuded fear every time he cried and every time I held him in my arms. Infants, like animals, react to our feelings and PJ's reaction was natural: my arms were not a safe place and he screamed for safety. Based on the bad advice we got during his first few weeks, I'm pretty sure he was also screaming out of hunger but that's another story.

I cried on the phone, I cried on skype, I cried going to the bathroom. Everything was too much and my world was wrapped in dark fog, a fog I hadn't seen in years since my last true depressive episode. I got scared and so did my husband.

"What do you need? How can I help you?" he kept asking over and over again, desperately ready to do anything to help Fix This.

"I don't know," I kept answering in many vague ways. Like so much, I didn't know what I needed or what would help.

Time crept past and after four weeks my husband went back to work. I learned about the La Leche league and got the patience, understanding, support, and expert guidance I needed for breastfeeding to become successful. I went onto Facebook and asked for support between 12 and 5, when my son was the most upset and I was alone. People - some of them surprising - started coming. I got up the courage to go to mommy groups. My mommy came for a visit. I went to my first MOPS meeting. My sister arrived to help.

And things got and are getting better. Breastfeeding is established and going well. My son has almost doubled his weight, grown out of his 0-3 month clothing, and had learned to smile and coo. And I have proven to him that my arms are the safest place to be. We all sleep a little more. The colic is basically gone. My husband is and continues to be an outstanding husband and father. I see and feel now that I am not alone.

Which brings us to a recent morning, 11 weeks into this adventure. After a rocky night, my husband, son, and I all laid down for an early morning nap. I nursed our little man to sleep and then I gently rocked onto my back, placing one hand on my husband's thigh. My right arm was wrapped around my son and my left hand was resting on my husband. Both of my men were peacefully, deeply breathing in their sleep in our dark bedroom and I looked at them both and tears rolled down my cheeks as I thought, "This. I really like this moment."

Here's to appreciating more of these moments. 



Sandra said...

I am very proud of you! You are doing an awesome job. Little PJ looks very happy. Sophie and I are looking forward to see you guys in November. Maybe we can put Domi on baby duty for a couple of hours and have a little flashback to 'the good old days' and enjoy red wine and sushi :-)

Lil Koala said...

Wonderful entry and cheers to a billion trillion more of those moments :)

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