Friday, February 15, 2013

Eating in the Shower



A few weeks after my son was born, my husband went back to work and I felt like a humongous weight was just dropped in my lap (literally since he weighed over ten pounds already!) He was eating every hour for nearly twenty minutes at a time so I was exhausted and completely overwhelmed. I expected having a newborn to be a challenge but not a single person- not friends, family members, no well meaning strangers even, prepared me for the fact that not a second of the day was mine anymore.

I'd always told myself that I wasn't going to be one of those moms who complains about being tired or overwhelmed by having a child. We spent the first eight years of our marriage working full time, traveling, and eventually wanting a baby.  Before we had our son, I thought I was preparing myself by making the genius decision that I wasn't going to to whine about things that I'd secretly laughed at other moms for complaining about. Things like being tired, hungry, or dirty.

After all, I'd been working full time outside the home. I fully believed that being a stay at home mom was going to be "easier" than going to a job for eight hours a day, five days a week. By easier, I just thought it was going to be a nice break from having to work.


So...... fast forward to morning two of Daddy being back to work and being on my own and I started to get why I had heard so many parents claim that it's such hard work. My wardrobe consisted of sweats, slippers, a nursing tank top with hoodie over it, and my hair was an unflattering combination of third day not washed waves and bed head. I went everywhere with a baby in one arm and a nalgene full of water in the other because I was constantly thirsty. The only time I rested was while feeding him. Anyone that remembers being new to nursing a newborn can understand how not restful that was. I didn't have time or at least think I had time to eat, take a shower, make a phone call, sleep, clean my house, or think of anything other than when this tiny baby would want to eat again.





Rather than put him down for a minute and let him cry, I held him almost nonstop until he fell asleep in my arms. During these periods I might put him in his crib, swing, or propped in the boppy pillow, but a lot of the time I kept holding him and just rested as best I could.



One day I put him down asleep and hurried to the shower quietly tiptoeing, and just petrified that the sound of water or God forbid, dropped shampoo would wake him. As water ran down my head I was jolted by the realization I was chewing and still holding part of my bagel in my hand. In the shower.

Some people might not think that was worth a second thought but I wasn't comfortable with that being my new normal. The laugh /sob noise that I made upon realizing that I now had to manage my time by eating in the shower was probably only in my head because I was too paranoid to so much as sneeze at the risk of waking the baby. It was a defining, humbling new parent moment that I've never forgotten.

It took a little time but eventually I found a way to balance baby's needs and my own. Put simply, I now have about a quarter of every day for my own needs. But I wouldn't trade a single sleepless, dirty, hungry, frustrated, aching moment of what is the greatest joy in my life for more me time.

Of course I look back on those weeks now and realize that I had so much more freedom than I thought I had but nothing was going to make me feel that way at the time except for the experience I now have. I remember someone saying to me, "You shouldn't be so tired," a statement that obviously made me feel like there was some trick I was missing or something that I was doing wrong. While unhelpful and a little judgy, above all that was such a ridiculous thing to say to someone that was tired from giving every bit of their energy to a newborn. If they'd only known I was also starving because the only time I managed to eat was in the shower!

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