There were a few things about being a mother that I knew would be, but I had no idea about how they would play out in a practical way in my daily life. Before mommy-hood, I used to look around at my friends and family who had babies and consider that I would not do this or absolutely do that. Immediately after Ella was born, any judgments I had toward any parent my age fell away. It was not as easy as it looked and all those ideas of what it would be like that I had arranged in my mind also shrank down to nothing. Something about just getting through each day with a newborn helped peal away those opinions from before. I considered myself successful if we were both fed, toileted, and somewhat clean at the end of each day. Never mind what the house looked like. No shame, it took me three months before I could do my own laundry and sit somewhat comfortably on a chair. I quickly learned to accept the fact that we would always do the best we knew how and be as loving as we could. I continue to struggle to forgive myself when I make mistakes and know that all is really going to be okay.
It took me a few months to grasp the concept of phases.
One day, when Ella was just weeks old, she decided that she would not sleep unless it was on top of someone. David and I took shifts day and night, letting her sleep. At one point I was in the guest bedroom with pillows on all sides of me propping me up to hold her while trying to be in a position where I might sleep too. Reminded me of when I was pregnant, the pillows packed in all around my huge belly so that I might get in a comfortable position to get some sleep. He would usually prop up on the couch downstairs, again with the pillows all around. There are many darling photos we have of our sweet beautiful daughter asleep on someone’s chest, even smiling as she dozed sometimes. Well after two weeks of practically no sleep for mommy and daddy we had to find a way out. Yes, we went to google. You say, wow it took you two weeks to do a search. Yes we did. Sleep deprivation no doubt played a part but when you’re a new parent and you find something that works, you do it, until you can’t do it anymore. And yes, we did try things. That wonderful swing, she enjoyed it at playtime, and it was the perfect angle to help her poop, but she wouldn’t let it lull her to sleep. Swaddling hadn’t worked before, but everywhere we read, said to do it, even if the baby is fighting in every way she knows how, just pin her down and wrap her tight. Our wits were at an end. We could hardly think straight. So we did it, she was kicking and squirming every which way (something she continues to do now…she kicks her legs all of the time), but we used cousin Becca’s miracle swaddle blanket and got her all wrapped tight. Then I took my shirt, milk splotches, sweat and all, and placed it in her bed beside her. We stepped back. It was amazing. The darling little weight of seven pounds we had been carrying almost every moment, was now asleep, in her bed.
This phase was over, the new phase—whatever it might be, was already beginning.