Oh, no? Did you forget?
Everyone told me I'd forget the pain too, that I would lose track of all the horrible-terrible feelings and experiences and I would just remember those first few weeks after birth as the happy ending Westley and Princess Buttercup have, you know, "Wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva..."
The first few weeks of Eli's life, sleep was my holy grail. I wanted more - so. much. more. but I could never seem to get enough. (Side thought: It's quite similar to how I feel when I eat triple chocolate cake.) The saying "sleep when your baby sleeps," is nice in theory, but I didn't want ten, two hour increments of sleep. I wanted eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. Laboring for 32 hours means you lose a lot of sleep, and the real party doesn't even begin until the baby actually arrives, which meant I went about two days without any sleep before I got my first nap. At night, every time Eli would latch, I'd near-insta sleep, my head slumped against the headboard, my arms lax, which in turn made Eli lose his latch, fuss and pull me out of of my happy place to start the process all over again. In those days, nursing was a ton of work - we were both beginners - and slow learners.
For weeks and weeks this went on. I considered going to the doctor to see if I had Narcolpesy, but then I realized that I forgot I had a baby. So then I wanted to go to see if I had Dementia, but then Mike reminded me I had a baby.
At our 36 week appointment, my Midwife told Mike and I, "Women bond with their baby over nursing, men bond over diaper changes." While Mike looked like the Midwife told him that instead of a baby, I would be having an alien, I nodded and grinned like the Cheshire Cat in agreement. Yet one week after birth I was begging Mike to figure out how to produce milk and nurse Eli in return for me to change Eli's diaper every day for the rest of his life.
Oh, heeeeeeeaaaaay milk - so glad you're here.
On top of that I was changing my own diaper as often as Mike changed our new baby's, milk is - how do I say this - oh yeah - EVERYWHERE and I was still carrying around quite a few extra pounds that, while everyone told me when I was pregnant, "You're all baby!" I realized that was a totally nice-sounding lie to comfort the lumbering pregnant woman, because when I left the hospital, well, let's just say I was not prancing out in my pre-baby jeans.
While there's a certain element of, "I get to lay around, take naps, cuddle with a half-me human, wear my "I Survived Birthing a Baby and Lived To Tell The Tale" badge of honor front and center, and people bring me food and flowers and gift cards and baby clothes," that is in fact, quite nice. For me the trade off of, "constant pain down there, raw and bruised up here, never getting more than three hours of sleep in a row again, CLUSTER NURSING, sagging midsection, and the fact that I STILL cannot sleep on my stomach if I want to nurse," tended to overshadow the "nice" parts.
And now, seven months later, that feeling has finally come.
I feel it creeping in, fogging my memory and I'm fighting to hold on to what it was really like.
But lately, I'm starting to feel like I need to let it go. Like I want to let it go.
I want to forget the past, because the here and now is just. so. good.
Pssst. If you're a soon-to-be momma or don't have children yet, it's not like this for everyone, promise! Well, I think the forgetting part is. But the part where the first few weeks are insanely hard? Yeah, the degree of "hardness" depends on the mom, labor, delivery, and I suppose the babe. But for me that's what it was like, and it's the only thing I know, so that's the place I write from. Whatever your experience - all I can tell you is, it's worth it.