new moms

The First Weeks of Parenthood Aren’t Pretty (Despite What Instagram Says)

newborn

This week I read a sanitized-feeling diary of the first three weeks of one family’s life with a new baby.

In response, I decided to offer my own retroactive parody diary, because new moms need to know: it’s not always pretty, or cute, or funny, or Instagram-worthy. And that’s okay. In fact, that’s normal. So here’s how it looked from my perspective, when my husband and I welcomed our first child, Diana, after several agonizing years of failed pregnancy attempts and fertility treatments— compounded by my “advanced maternal age” status.

Day 1: (Tuesday, August 23): Andy and I are a bundle of nerves and emotions as we realize we’re now fully responsible for this tiny human being. I’m frightened beyond belief and wonder if the hospital has a return policy. Oh, I also appear to be incapable of breastfeeding.

Day 2: No time to create a Twitter and Instagram handle for Diana, because I’m being told my breastfeeding troubles will require my being chained to a hospital-grade pump for the foreseeable future.

Day 3: Andy and I are left alone for the first time with the baby and we each have full-blown panic attacks. How do you feed a baby again? What is she supposed to wear? We take turns sleeping an hour at a time because Diana will only sleep in our arms. Whee! Parenting is fun!

Day 4: I wake up shaking, with every inch of my body in pain — because, oh, I don’t know, I just pushed a human being out of my vagina 72 hours ago? That and because I’m scared shitless. Normally I insist on doing everything myself, but in a totally uncharacteristic move, I accept my mother’s generous offer of hiring a baby nurse, because I’m desperate.

Day 5: The baby nurse has arrived, and she’s a huge help, but I’m still crying in between moments of sheer panic. Diana won’t latch, and I feel like a complete and utter failure as a parent five days in.

Day 6: Thank God for the baby nurse, because we made a giant mistake in hiring a postpartum doula. She’s judgy, completely unhelpful in the lactation consulting department and is sweating all over the place. Is it too early to fire her?

Day 7: Will I ever write again? How do people possibly maintain careers while caring for a little creature 24/7?

Day 8: Fresh Direct and my mother are our nourishment lifelines. Meanwhile, a phone call with a supportive lactation consultant my mother managed to find reassures me that I’m not a bad mother for giving my kid formula, but I’m still resolute in finding a way to nurse Diana, even though the odds are stacked against me at this point.

Day 9: I realize that my temporary standard uniform of T-shirts, yoga pants and no makeup is actually permanent.

Day 10: Exhaustion has its benefits! Since I have no idea who I am anymore other than a milk machine and diaper changer, I can’t think about life goals.

Day 12: I can’t remember the last time Andy gave me a present (unless you count allowing me an hour or two to zone out over old “Mad Men” episodes). You know why? Because raising a kid is expensive and we’re a one-income household now.

Day 15: Diana and I are home alone. It’s Saturday night and Andy had to go back to work as a light and sound tech for an ‘80s tribute band. This means he’ll be gone until dawn and I’m petrified at doing this by myself. Did I also mention that the baby nurse peaced out a few days ago? Yeah, not everybody can afford hired baby help for more than a week.

Day 17: Will I ever get my life back?

Day 18: Nope, not feeling better. Still crying. Maybe manage to nurse once or twice a day on one boob.

Day 19: Motherhood is a lonely existence when Andy is at work. The days my mom visits are ones I cherish.

Day 20: It’s still a chore, and a scary one, to leave the house with the baby on my own.

Day 21: A friend of Andy’s is casting new parents and babies for a commercial. They want Andy and they want Diana, but not me. Way to boost a new mom’s morale there, industry standards.

Day 22: A routine? Ha! Colic has recently set in and I’m now on my feet all day in a (usually) futile attempt to soothe a crying baby.

Day 23: My hope to exclusively breastfeed Diana went out the window shortly after she was born. I’ve accepted that she’ll be combo-fed, but it’s not like that’s made my life any easier. Between my crying, Diana’s crying (we both want her to latch, and it’s still a struggle; there’s a reason why the “Girls” series finale struck a chord with me), constantly pumping and the seemingly endless feeding cycle, I’ve yet to discover the rewarding side.

Day 25: Who the hell has time to keep a witty diary about the first 25 days of parenthood? Not me, that’s for sure, which is why this parody journal was written… when my child was nearly 10 months old.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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