Monday, February 04, 2008

For a very long time, two of my biggest fears about having a baby were related to two things after the baby was born: sleep deprivation and post-partum depression.

I've always needed a lot of sleep; I'm talking at least 7-8 hours per night or I am a wreck: spaced-out, bitchy, and not very fun to be around. My ideal is actually closer to 9 or 10 hours: pretty much impossible under the best of circumstances, let alone with a baby. So I'm sure you can understand why the idea of having a baby who woke up all night long was scary, considering how irrational and irritable I can be if I don't get enough sleep.

I really hope I'm not jinxing myself by saying this, but oddly enough, it really hasn't been bad. Elanor does wake up several times at night, and yes, some nights are worse than others, but overall I don't feel the level of exhaustion or desperation that I thought I would feel. I can still function moderately well during the day, thankfully. Granted, I'm not working, so that plays a big role, and, yes, I'm tired, and you'd better believe that some days a nap is necessary if I'm going to make it, but it hasn't been nearly as bad as I thought it would be.

The other thing I was afraid of was post-partum depression. With a history of depression in my family and in my own life, I was terrified that I would have to deal with this. Again -- it really hasn't been an issue, something for which I am so very thankful.

Really, the first week-and-a-half after she was born were filled with an extreme sense of euphoria. I was on top of the world and I couldn't imagine being happier.

Now, things have settled down and I don't necessarily feel euphoric, but I don't feel depressed, either -- more just content, for the most part. Sure, I have my hormonally-induced grumpy times, sometimes a little more often than I would like, but it's not like it's depression or like it's out of control.

The grumpy times are not fun; I hate being a grumpy person. Somehow things (and people) just push my buttons waaaay more easily right now than they would otherwise. But I remember after the miscarriage that it took a good 6-8 weeks for my hormones to settle down. Why should I expect anything less now, when I've actually been pregnant to term and delivered a baby?

Honestly, there's a lot about this parenting thing that I didn't expect. Or maybe a better way of putting it would be there is a lot that no one could have prepared me for. It's not bad stuff, though. Like how I don't mind when I have to change her poopy (or as Brett calls them, "Poopie-woopie-woopie!") diapers. And how I don't really mind when she spits up all over me. And how I don't mind waking up to feed her in the night. And how it is so hard not to snatch her out of the arms that are holding her when she cries. And how sad I feel that she is already growing and changing so much, and how much I miss the tiny newborn she was. And how amazed I feel when I look at her and realize she is my child. And how wonderful it is to watch Brett with her. Above all, the thing no one could have prepared me for is how much I love her.


Kris said...

Kathleen, she's so beautiful! I love this photo that you put at the end of this post.

Enjoy motherhood. It sure has its ups and downs, but it's so worth it.

Xin Lei said...

You are coming to understand all the things that other mothers couldn't have possibly been able to describe to you before Elanor was born....that the care of your child is so deeply rewarding that no matter if you're a little sleep deprived or have to change a lot of dirty diapers, the MAGIC of motherhood peacefully covers all those little burdens. I love that you can now be on the "other side" (grin). So happy to hear that there haven't been any baby blues too...hooray!

Isabel said...

Reading this post takes me back to when my son was Elanor's age. I was also afraid of these two things and I thrilled to not really have problems with them.

I'm thrilled that things are going so well for you guys.

Bree said...

Hey Leen, I spent one evening with that little cutie and I am totally in love with her. I can't even imagine how much more the feeling of being a mother would be. You are so blessed my friend!