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10 Weeks and Learning | Thoughtful Thursday

A few different people have recently asked me what the most challenging part of motherhood is. So I thought I’d devote a post to a few areas that have surprised me… but I also want to share some of my favorite parts, too. Parenthood is a mixture of both challenges and joys, but somehow the joys always play the trump card and make the challenges worth it!

You Find Out How Selfish You Are

I was always told that you would find out how selfish you really are at one of two points in your life: when you get married, or when you have children. For me, it has definitely been the latter.

I don’t mean this in an entirely negative way, either. The truth is, motherhood is just exposing. And I’m not even talking about once Otto entered this world. From the moment I saw the word “pregnant” on the stick, my world was changed! My body changed every week, and I was often uncomfortable. Whether I was nauseous, exhausted, puking, trying to make myself eat (and then eventually eating way too much!), dealing with back aches, waddling, or bouncing on a ball willing my 8 lb. son to just hurry up and make his entrance into the world already… let me tell you, that journey included A LOT of feeling sorry for myself. Just ask my mom. She had a daily FaceTime call from me, and usually had to talk me off the ledge of whatever ailment I was experiencing.

Then the baby comes, and it was a whole new level of being reminded that this world is not about me. Almost every single moment is devoted to my baby. I remember reading about how husbands or pets would sometimes feel neglected after the baby came, and honestly I kind of rolled my eyes, thinking “Oh please. It can’t be that hard to give everyone attention.” Trust me. I was in for a rude awakening. A couple weeks into Otto’s life, I told my husband, “I feel like 90% of my day is devoted to Otto. And then I have to squeeze everything and everyONE else into the 10% remaining.”

And yes– there is the sleep deprivation. I always prided myself on being able to handle the whole no-sleep thing. Until I had endless nights upon nights of 3-4 hours of disjointed sleep in a row, and then I knew true exhaustion. “Nap when the baby naps,” they said. I tried– trust me, I tried. But the combination of being overtired and an anxious new mom is no match for “sleeping during the day,” as it turns out. My mind was always racing, and every 30 seconds I would think, “Is that him? He’s waking up. Wait. No, that wasn’t him. It’s been really quiet for a long time, actually. Maybe too long of a time. Is he even still breathing? What if he’s not breathing? I have to know if he’s alive. I have to go check on him. I can’t go to sleep until I know.”

There is the art of learning how to eat fast, because babies always know when a hot meal is sitting right in front of you. Or better yet– eating with one hand. Going out is different, too. I remember having a mild panic attack the first day I had to go out into public alone. I literally sat for 20 minutes and tried to figure out in my head how I would possibly manage getting the stroller out of my trunk, instilling the car seat bracket, putting the car seat onto the stroller while keeping my baby alive, walking into a building with people and keeping him from screaming. The idea terrified me. I quickly realized that going out alone was a luxury and my days of this had quickly come to an end.

Every shower feels like a gift, and the two bubble baths I have been able to enjoy since birth have been like a slice of Heaven.

But Then…

They smile for the first time at you, and your heart basically explodes. You start to see features of your husband come out in your baby, and it makes you so thankful you got to make a baby with him. The baby starts to sleep longer stretches at night, and that extra hour of sleep is the ticket to starting to feel human again during the day. Your husband or baby’s grandparents baby-sit so you can run to the grocery store and grab a coffee, and you get the treat of being out for a few hours by yourself, and it restores you just enough to get through the fussy evening. Your baby starts to become delighted in and coo at toys and ceiling fans and pretty shadows on the wall, and best of all, your face.

My favorite part has definitely been getting to know Otto, and seeing his personality develop. As they all say, the newborn phase passes SO quickly, and all of the sudden, your baby has been around for a couple months. My little buddy has been so fun to be with everyday. And during his times of temper-induced screaming, it’s fascinating to me how he already has such a will and a passion for life. Even if the current passion is only, “I need milk IMMEDIATELY!” or “Please pick me up NOW!” It still shows me a piece of his little personality. He has always seemed a bit wiser than his days with the way he looks at people and reacts, and his thousands of expressive faces.

And every once in awhile in the morning, when I’m holding him against my chest and he’s soundly sleeping, I almost (ALMOST) want to wake him, just so we can “talk” and I can see his smile and bright morning face. But if there is one thing I have learned, you NEVER wake a sleeping baby!

A Gift

I have realized that Otto is a gift to our life in so many ways. Not just in the obvious way of “we love our son,” because that feeling is automatic. He is also here to teach us, and especially me. I have often thought that the discomforts of pregnancy was the boot camp training for the real thing. And then out comes this perfect little baby that you have to quickly learn how to deal with– and how quickly you learn! I have been completely surprised and grateful for how soon I knew the difference between each cry, and how I know exactly when Otto is overtired and needs to be snuggled in close.

It cultivates a deep-rooted love for this child, the patience to get through each moment of each day, and the wisdom to deal with situations as they arise. It teaches you a lot about yourself and your priorities, and while it may take a toll on some aspects of your marriage, it also strengthens it because you’re in this together.

And before long, you look from your husband to your child and wonder how you ever knew life before the 3 of you.

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{The above photo of Otto was taken when he was 7 weeks old, and I absolutely love it. I love the expression on his face, his little mouth, and how his tight fist is up by his face. Since birth, he has been the strongest baby I’ve met, with the TIGHTEST fists that are almost impossible to unfurl! He always holds his thumb like he “stole someone’s nose off their face” and isn’t giving it back!}

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