A Few Things I Have Learned
Written by: Haley Provost
That space between your neck and shoulder was specifically designed for a baby’s head to rest…a kiss always makes a boo boo feel better…macaroni and cheese is a completely acceptable dinner…love at first sight is real…and lastly, motherhood is HARD. My eyes were opened to this last statement in April of 2012.
Having no other way to say it, our second child rocked.my.world. Everything about him was different in comparison to our first. Much to our surprise, we got pregnant right away this time. I went into labor over two weeks early and had a dream delivery 3 hours after arriving to the hospital to a chunky 8 lb. 10 oz. boy! My husband literally high-fived me and exclaimed, “Yes, another boy!!” (High-fived??? Fellow boy moms, you understand!) We were exuding happiness over this sweet blessing of ours. Not quite 24 hours later, he had some complications and was sent to the NICU. Then started a whirlwind of unmet expectations in my eyes. He ended up staying in the NICU for 5 days and came home with a cardiac heart monitor and a bili light for jaundice. I wasn’t concerned about this equipment though because I was just so happy to finally be home! I had a 21-month-old little boy who I missed dearly, and a comfy bed calling my name!
We had our second son smack dab in the middle of baseball season…with a husband who coaches baseball. Our nearest family member lived an hour away and worked full time. I found myself at home with a busy, curious toddler, and a baby connected to machines that I couldn’t walk more than 10 feet without unplugging to transfer to another outlet. Add to that a baby that never.stopped.crying. When he was 4 months old, I gave up all dairy (seriously, no cheese or chocolate for SEVEN MONTHS…there should be an award for that!) I slowly noticed a difference in his demeanor. Aghh, finally, a breakthrough. A few short weeks later after some much-needed restful nights, the crying began again. Long story short, the next year consisted of more ear infections and antibiotics than I could count, bad acid reflux and endless amounts of laundry, multiple visits with a pediatric pulmonologist and the use of an infant inhaler, and non-stop crying. How could I be head over heels in love with this sweet baby who drained every ounce of energy out of me?
Another thing I learned since becoming a mom is we pretend very well. We pretend to drink tea out of plastic cups for our daughter’s tea party, we pretend we are not terrified of the tornado warning issued, and we pretend like we don’t eat the forbidden junk food as soon as our kids’ heads hit their pillows at night. But we also pretend everything is okay, even when it’s not. I had put on a happy face to all of my friends and family all the time, never asked for help, and constantly denied that anything was wrong. The truth is, I was an absolute mess. I felt overwhelmed, and I felt very alone. Every expectation of mine had dissipated, and I felt like a complete failure every single day.
This was one of the hardest years of my life, but it did not have to be. I urge you mamas, to get help. Ask for help! And knowing that is not a strong attribute for many of us, fellow moms, we need to GO DO without asking. When a friend tells you everything is okay but is wearing the same shirt for the 3rd day in a row, GO DO her laundry. When a fellow mom has a toddler and a newborn, GO get her a large diet coke or frappe from McDonald’s in the middle of the day, even when she says no. GO to her house and threaten you won’t leave until she takes a nap. You see, I have amazing friends. Simply the best. But I didn’t tell a single one of them what I was wrestling with every day until almost a year later when I felt “normal.” I was too proud. And too embarrassed. But the longer I do this motherhood thing, I learn that we have all felt this way in some capacity. The beauty is, we are not alone. We have this amazing tribe of fellow moms going through the same stresses, day in and day out. But we have to swallow our pride and admit it. So please, I urge you, ASK for help. TELL someone you desperately need a break. Fellow moms, don’t take no for an answer and just DO.
That same sweet boy who made me question everything I knew about myself as a mom is now the light of my day. He exudes joy and extends unending amounts of grace every single day. Even though it was hard, we made it through that tough year.
And I am still learning new things every day since becoming a mom…