A beautiful beginning

Now that we’ve gotten through Amelie’s birth story and the days following – why not continue to ride The Train of Oversharing?

We brought Amelie home on April 15th. We had been slammed with 15 inches of snow and it couldn’t have been more perfect.

We had no place to go and didn’t want to anyway. It was so quiet – so peaceful. The blanket of snow muffled all sound except one:

BLISS.

Seriously. Hubs took the week off so we could be together, just our little family. Sure, getting up at all hours of the night wasn’t easy but I kept marveling at Amelie’s newness.

Oh come on, you know I can’t stop with just one picture…

(sorryjustonemore)

I was beside myself because her legs! They were so scrawny and delicious! Her funny expressions! Her crossed eyes, squishy baby butt, soft skin, and her amazing hair! Her snorts! Oh how I loved her snorts. And dressing her in adorable baby clothes? Forget about it. I almost keeled over every time I changed her from cute overload.

I would look at Hubs with wonder…because we made her?! Can you believe it?

I didn’t think I could fall any more in love with him. WITH THEM. I was soaked in happiness. It was a beautiful beginning to my new life because being Amelie’s Mom was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Soon enough though?

Those feelings fell straight into the shitter. I’m just now able enough to tell you about it. This has been a difficult post for me to write.

How do I sum up the first two months?

and

and

and

and

You know what? All of these pictures were taken on the same day and I didn’t even bother documenting when things got really gnarly – the “witching hour”- because by that time, I was in tears myself.

Everyone said it would be hard. And it has been. Those weeks were racked with confusion, desperation, frustration, unpredictability, self hate, feelings of incompetence, irritability, worry, resentment, exhaustion, bitchiness, anger, regret, defeat, loneliness, pain, unhappiness and not much else. And definitely NOT bliss. It pains and embarrases me to admit that there were lots of days where I fell out of love with Amelie and out of love with my Hubs. I never started out with much but the little love and respect I had for myself? That completely evaporated.

The nights were crazy rigorous but the days were so much worse. I was intimidated to go anywhere with Amelie. She wouldn’t just cry when were out, she’d choke on her own spit. She’d work herself into a sweat. She cried so hard, she even lost her voice. (Wow, that made me feel especially wretched). So I stayed home, some days I didn’t leave our bedroom. I don’t know if Amelie was a difficult baby or I was a difficult parent, but I suspect a little bit of both. I wanted so badly to love and smooch and snuggle. But instead we both cried. We cried and cried and cried some more.

Two things that helped:

1. The baby swing. Finally, a place where Amelie would sleep that wasn’t in my arms. Turns out when a baby sleeps not in your arms, so can you! Or you can shower! Or you can think about cleaning! Or you can have a bowl of cereal. It’s totally awesome.

and

2. Time. Amelie and I needed time to fail and to flail and to learn.

(Oh man, more Mommy tears. Do they ever stop?)

Let me be clear, I’m well aware that having a baby is something some folks would give anything for. It’s a blessing; a blessing I was lucky enough to have. Believe me, in those dark days knowing parents were yearning to have what I had made me feel all the worse. It made me feel ungrateful, incompetent and selfish.

I’m writing this post because I don’t want to forget the misery. I don’t want to forget those days that dragged on for forever. I don’t want to forget those lonely evenings on the bouncy ball trying to soothe her screams, while my own tears soaked her swaddle. I don’t want to forget that I begged her to sleep. I don’t want to forget her angry little legs kicking me in my tender tummy.

I don’t want to forget the major sads I had.

And also? I don’t want to forget the phone calls where I couldn’t speak, just cry, and my friend told me that I was a good mom and that I was doing a good job. I don’t want to forget the understanding looks I got at Target instead of glares. I don’t want to forget that Hubs excavated every corner of Google for answers and he rubbed my back when I didn’t even want to talk to him. I don’t want to forget the defeated emails I wrote and the incredibly encouraging notes I got in return.

Most of all, what I don’t want to forget?

After one of our worst stretches, I was feeding Amelie and she looked up at me. A tentative smile spread across those chubby cheeks as if to say, “See Mom? You and I, we’re going to be ok. All we needed was some time.”

Can someone hand me a box of Kleenex, please?

30 thoughts on “A beautiful beginning

  1. You are definitely not alone in those feelings, all of them. It is harder than people make it out to be, and every baby is different so you really have no idea what you are getting yourself into until you are in the middle of it.

    I was just reminding my hubs today as we were having a rough spot with the big kid, that we aren’t born knowing how to parent; it is something we need to learn. Sometimes it is even just a matter of faking it until you make it. With little babies, it is largely about learning coping skills, and figuring out the difference between when you need to “fix it” and when you just need to be a shoulder to cry on, or even when they just need to wind down by complaining. Many say that with the first, you feel so stressed and emotional because you feel like you have to stop the crying by fixing it. Eventually, you learn to hear the difference between different cries and don’t freak out so much each time. Unfortunately, once you get one stage figured out, they move on to the next challenge. The first kid is the Guinea pig for all attempts at parenting skills.

    • Oh, Andrea. You are so right. It’s comforting to know that parenting is not completely an instinct I was supposed to be born with…that it’s a learned skill too. And to learn, we have to try lots of things that don’t work. And by the time you get it kinda figured out, that little baby is a few days/weeks/years older and it’s a whole new ball game!
      Sorry Amelie, but you are our big Experiment! Bare with us!

  2. We definitely went through some terribly difficult weeks, and I’m so thankful we’ve got those pictures (and narrative) documented here to remember them. Even though they were just a few weeks ago, it’s already so easy to forget just how hard/frustrating/sad those days were. And by extension, how much more delightful things are now by comparison! Even when Amelie has a fussy hour or two these days, it’s so important to remember what a cakewalk it is compared to her earlier days!

  3. Thanks for being real, raw and honest. Those things in and of themselves are and will continue to be a gift to Amelie as you continue to grow with her. And always remember, you’re not on this journey alone :)

    • Aww, shucks. I’m crying (again). Thank you for being such a good friend and Mommy to Clara – it’s inspiring! We got this, girl!

  4. You are refreshingly honest and wonderful! I find myself laughing out loud, feeling your frustrations, and completely relating to you as I read your blog. You are an amazingly talented writer…and mommy! I read somewhere, and never forgot, “behind every great kid are parents absolutely convinced they are messing it up”. I’m not sure if it is true, but it helps me sleep at night! 😉

    • Gina, you are so kind. I find that advice so comforting as well. You have two wonderful kids and I know that’s not by chance! Keep up the good work – love you lots.

  5. And, as you move on to new adventures and bonding, you won’t forget but you’ll also have the blessing of the perspective of looking backwards from a point where you already know it passes. The hardest part is being in the middle of it and not knowing if there really is a light at the end of the tunnel….time and learning….tricky little things! :) Love you guys!

    • Megs, this post was an ode to you! When I was in that thick fog of sads, reading your notes in the middle of the night made me (weakly) believe that maybe it will pass…and it did. And we all survived! Now, on to the next stage of “crap, what the heck am I doing?” It always an adventure – not always a fun one, but a beautiful one.

  6. So when Grandma Colleen says you just forget about it – you know she is lying. Welcome to the world of parenting. I knew you two could do it. lv mamap

    • Confused about the Grandma Colleen thing but thank you, we did make it – it was one heck of a ride those first 8 weeks! And it’s all just begun…! :)

  7. I really wish babies were born with their own special manual…why did no one think of that? No seriously, you’re very brave to write that post and expose your true feelings, emotions and that you’re actually human – thank you for that. Maybe one day Amelie will read this post and give you the biggest foot rub and back massage ever with a mimosa in bed :)

    • Thank you, Jossie – it means a lot. Although I wanted to handle it all with so much grace and composure, I subsisted on bitchiness and survival instead! I’m ready for that foot rub and massage anytime you are, Amelie! 😉

  8. Awesome words…babies do need a manual…not that they would follow it anyways…a friend of mine once described them as selfish jerks who scream all day…and yet, we still love them anyways.

    • It’s so true! Babies are completely selfish! They don’t seem to care about your schedule or your desire to shower. When do they grow out of that? 30? Or when they have kids of their own?

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  10. Once again this was my crazy experience with our little guy to a T. I really am hoping its not like that the second time because it really makes me nervous to have another one! I will say that all that hard work and growth together makes you love them even more and really it gets soo much better!! I really applaud you for writing this entry because its hard to recognize and admit to it but doing so provides comfort to all who have experienced it. It honesty made me teary eyed reading it and reliving it. Here’s to only getting better from here because I swear it does!!

    • Melissa, I’m so relieved to read that I was not alone in these feelings! I wish I would have known because I would have been more apt to reach out when I needed support. You’re right, these growing pains have only helped me love Amelie more and she is such a little sweetheart (for the most part). Usually now when she’s cranky, it’s my fault from pushing her past her limits of nap time. Thank you, sincerely, for your comment!

  11. So honest and so true, Candace. You are doing an amazing job as a mom, wife, friend! Keep on smiling — tears are OK…it’s all natural and we all do it 😉 You are definitely not alone. Now my tears come from wondering if I’m disciplining, educating, raising, coaching, guiding in a way that will help my kids be the best they can be. Seriously, who would have thought parenting would bring so much worry…now I know why skin starts to wrinkle and hair turn grey 😉 I guess we did it to our parents so now our kids will do it to us 😉 HUGS

    • THANK YOU, friend. I know you’re right. The pressure of trying to raise small people into kind and happy big people is fraught with worry and self doubt. We need to be there for each other and you’re doing a wonderful job!

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  13. Just finally reading this post and the awesome replies from all of those who love you. You are definitely not alone in those feelings, but rarely do moms (and dads) articulate them so well publicly. Those first 10 weeks are terribly hard for all new moms, in different ways, and to different degrees. I hope that you are feeling more light, energy and joy and BLISS at months three and four. Trust me that there are days that the multitude of feelings will come and go as they grow, but support, lots of deep breaths, and taking a ‘daycare day off’ sometimes are just perfect. Be well.

    • Oh Cam Kay. Thank you for the love and the encouragement. Amelie and I are feeling much more smiley (a few giggles too, those are new!) now and it makes those dark days seem kinda far away. Thank you for holding me up when I needed it most by commenting and assuring me that I’m not alone. Wish we lived close. XOXO.

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