Pssst. I finally took the plunge and Oakland Avenue now has an official Facebook page - it'd be an honor if you "Liked" it! Just click right here.déjà vu as I went to the end of the world wide web and back.
I hadn't done it for a while.
You know, the search for the person who writes about their problem on a blog that sounds exactly like yours so you know you're not alone. The endless quest for the perfect answer in an article, any article really, whether or not it seems credible - you just need an answer. The collective wisdom of a group of moms in a forum that offer solution after solution even if they don't know it will work, giving you hope - because at least YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO TRY.
I remember the days, when Eli was wrinkly and thin and sleepy. The days of typing in any combination of search terms to find an answer to what that spot was, why he wasn't napping and how to increase my supply. Hours and hours of searching, if I wasn't holding Eli, I was holding my phone and clutching onto my electronic book of answers for dear life. In those first few weeks, everyone would always ask me what I wanted to do. "Should I change his diaper? Do you want to nurse him? Where should I put his dirty clothes? Do you want to vaccinate him? Do you think he ate enough? What blanket do you want to bring with? Where are the crib sheets? Do you want me to pick up a few more newborn onesies? Do you want to circumcise him? Why is his poop green?"
Question, after question, everyone came to me when they had a question.
I think people ask the new mom every little thing because 1) Maybe they genuinely don't know the answer. Mike had no idea what Eli's poop should look like. Fair question husband. I don't either. Let's look up a picture. Gah. No. Bad idea. I take it back. I'm so sorry. 2) Out of respect. Maybe they know the right answer, they know baby's diaper needs changed, but they want to tread carefully around a new mom and not make assumptions that they know what she wants to do. For those first few weeks, the new, battle-weary mother is queen.
And both those reasons are good, and right.
At first it was fine, fun even. I was Eli's MOMMA. I shall tell you the answer even if you don't want to hear it.
But soon, it began to wear on me. I didn't want to be the answer book any more. I didn't care what we ate for lunch, what trash can we used to put his diapers in, how many pacifiers to put in the diaper bag. Someone just decide! I did care about Eli's diaper rash and when he got his shots and if he was gaining weight and how he was latching, but I didn't want to care as deeply anymore. I wanted someone else to look up an answer, someone else to offer a solution, someone else to call the doctor. It was too much pressure. I no longer wanted to be the sole source of answers - to big or little questions - in dealing with my son.
Really, I just wanted someone else to care as much as me.
Even my husband, who had as much responsibility as I to ensure this new little human survived didn't care about some things, like cleaning the lint between Eli's toes, keeping him covered in a blanket so he was warm enough and giving him a bath at least once a week. I felt like I had to remember everything. I had to decide how it was done. I was the final answer, the last stop, the end, el fin.
Everyone looked to me and more than anything I just wanted to stare at them and ask, "Why are you looking at me? I have no idea what I'm doing - I've never done this before!"
But I didn't. Well, maybe once or twice or sixty two times, but after my outbursts, I would pull out my phone, take note of my options and make a decision with the information I had. It might not work, I might not implement it right, but it was an answer, at least for the time being.
That's the thing about motherhood. You reach the tipping point day after day after day, but somehow you never tip over. Those first few weeks are hard and intense and unstable, but you survive. The perfect combination of adrenaline, instinct and blinding love get you through to the other side.
I am out of those wandering days now. Eli is not as full of as many surprises and questions as he was in the beginning - thankfully, a few months after he arrived, my phone and my brain got at least a few breaks in the day. I don't buckle under the pressure as much as I used to, probably because the questions are not coming at me a million miles an hour any more. I still find myself searching for answers, but the situations are fewer and farther between. It almost seems as if they come in groups now, a few weeks of peace before a storm of questions.
Those first few weeks are especially hard for the new mom. If you're in that stage, know that every new mom has felt the way you do. It's okay not to know the answer, it's okay if your first solution didn't turn out to be the right solution, and it's okay if you're sick of having to be the one to figure everything out.
The good news is, since you are momma, which is synonymous with problem-solver, you will live up to your name. It's innately in you, simply because you are your baby's mom.
I know I'll never be done with the questions, no matter what stage my son is in, there'll always be the element of "I DON'T KNOW." Some things don't matter at all, and some things matter a whole lot - but either way, as mom, I'm likely the one making the final decision on most questions. And because I care, usually more than anyone else in the world, I will work on finding the answer.