Before Children (BC), "spare time" could be hours of time where I had no where to be, and nothing pressing to do.
|Photo by Richard Baker|
After Children (AC), said time became fleeting moments, 30 min if I was lucky, where the baby was sleeping, or daddy had just enough patience to wrangle. In these moments, I have learned to speed read articles I can find, basically cliff notes online. I have become a master at finding easy quick meals online, printing it out and rushing to the task. In my "spare time", I can unload the dryer, then reload the dryer and washer. Of course, the newly dried clothes may at times sit in a pile either on the bed for a few days or on the floor at the foot of the bed before being finally sorted and put away. I can unload and reload the dishwasher in record time. Or, at the very least, get a shower, and dressed, before the baby has a melt down.
BC, I was certain I would do cloth diapers, breast feed exclusively for the first two years, then make my own baby food. I was going to teach him to sign, and go to infant learning classes and mommy and me playgroups and, and, and..... And then he came.
It was so overwhelming and wonderful, but I was SO. TIRED. He was colicky, and we now know he also had severe reflux that went undiagnosed until he was 6yo. I struggled for three months with breast feeding and it was the worst experience ever. He lost weight and the doctor told me that the assumptions of certain family members, that I was starving him to death, were true. When I gasped and started crying, he impatiently added, "Well, unintentionally." My nipples bled, and I went to a lactation consultant, who never noticed he was also tongue tied (we didn't find this out until a dentist pointed it out this year!). I would nurse for as long as he would remain awake, then use a supplemental nurser to add formula to his diet. Then, after he went to sleep, I would pump for half an hour. This was every two hours, without fail. I did this for 24 hours, for three months. One morning, he woke up and was crying. I fed him, and went to burp him and he projectile vomited all over the wall. I was so tired, and so frustrated, I started kicking the wall in exhausted frustration. I thought my husband was already gone for work, when he stuck his head in the door, worried and asked me what happened. I was embarrassed and told him, "Nothing, I stumbled getting out of bed." I was determined to do it all on my own, and in retrospect, I wish I would have asked for more help, but I was afraid of looking weak, and appearing incapable.
With my second, I vowed I would do better. I got mastitis. Not a severe enough case to warrant antibiotics, but I shudder at the thought that it could possibly be worse. I gritted my teeth through the pain, and was rewarded with thrush that we passed back and forth for a month. At 7 mos, I thought he weened himself after his first taste of food, and gave up, disappointed. I wish I had known what nursing strikes were and to keep offering. With two little ones, I struggled to keep up with my vow to make their baby food, but gave in to jarred organic food. Cloth diapers? Pffft! I wondered in amazement, how women coped, before washing machines let alone disposable. I was too exhausted to make it to too many support groups like Mommy and Me and I slowly found myself quite isolated from any kind of adult interaction beyond my mom, who was a blessing to have close by.
My third, came years later. I felt I had all the info I could possibly have. I found a doula and was rewarded with an amazing birth experience that made up for the first two, that had so much medical interference. The first three months, nursing was a magical thing. Then, my body betrayed me. My thyroid failed and with it, my milk supply dwindled. My husband gave him his first few bottles as I wept while pumping. I continued pumping and giving whatever I could until it disappeared. I couldn't afford the doctor appointment and blood work to get the medication I needed, until it was too late.
I had to come to terms, with not being able to have the "perfect mothering experience". Even if I had all the resources and money in the world, I don't think I would I have been able to avoid all the pitfalls. That's life. I love my children immensely and do everything possible to care for them. I am up all hours of the night, catching up on housework, and preparing for the next day, while doing the midnight, and 3am feedings for the baby. I manage my own type I diabetic status (though, not as well as I should due to low funds), as well as my now 6yo's who was diagnosed at age three (see video: Connor Takes Charge). I run them to and fro to play dates and activities. I manage doctor and dentist appointments. My house is rarely "clean" by most people's standards and my filing method is "organized piles" that drive my husband batty before I am able to knock them down temporarily. But you know what? I am a damn good mother! I do my absolute best. I put myself last and give my all for my family and if anyone were to tell me I am not good enough, then FORGET THEM!
I do get a little hurt, and sometimes it really gets to me, but overall, I know that no one could possibly love them more than me and I am secure in the fact that they never go without what they need: unconditional love and support.
So if you are a mom who is struggling with depression and feelings of inadequacy, stop fretting and look at the bigger picture! Try to enjoy those fleeting precious moments with your babies. You will never get that time back. What your children will remember most, isn't that the house was spotless, and your hair always just right. They will however remember, that you were there for them, and loved them dearly. For THAT, you are amazing. Each and every one of my fellow mommies. You are all, AMAZING.
Kathryn Ann Sneed: It's Okay Not to be That Mom
Nicki: Beyond the Boob (a new mum's tale)