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.