I don’t know what I expected life with a brand new baby to be. When I was hugely pregnant and waddling from point A to point B, desperate for some watermelon and a nap, I could not, for the life of me, see past where I was right then. I resented the excited questions from friends and family about the baby and who do you think she will look like and do you have a daycare and do you have enough diapers? (What the hell is enough diapers?) The underlying assumption was that eventually, I would push a tiny human out of my body, and while I knew that this was the obvious conclusion to the past nine months, I also had a hard time believing it would actually happen. More than that, I was terrified of it happening, and so no, I did not want to think about my little baby’s bum in her little baby diapers because my little baby did not seem so little when I thought about getting her out.
Giving birth was the Mount Everest that I thought I could never, ever summit, and now here I am having made the climb and descent, with a brand new baby in my arms. And she’s looking at me and I’m looking at her and we’re both like, “So, uh, hi………...?"
I don’t know. It’s hot in this kitchen and Eric is doing something on his phone. He just got some clothes from J. Crew that he ordered. He keeps encouraging me to order clothes because we both love clothes and I think he understands that I will feel a bit more like myself when I believe that I look good. Right now, I’m sweaty in my pajamas and my hair is a mess. Most of my pre-pregnancy wardrobe is in seasonal storage because, again, I did not truly believe in my heart that I would ever actually stop being pregnant. I have a few cute things in my closet that I can fit into again, but, like, why? Where am I going? What is the point? Eve drools a lot.
I have to pee but I don’t want to get up. Eve is asleep and these nap times are so precious: what can I accomplish while she sleeps? I feel a bit guilty, yearning for this time so much; every baby forum and blog pleads with me to cherish these moments and I do, I promise, I do. But it is all too easy to forget that I am a person, to forgo eating for a few hours because she hates being put down, to carry her up and down the hallway despite my aching arms, to simply gaze at her in silence instead of telling her how tired I am, how tired her dad is, how hard this can be, how much I just want to go get my nails done or sit in a bar and drink a cold beer by myself. I am paranoid about the negative energy seeping out of my words and sinking into her skin like poison, I am paranoid while knowing exactly what my mom and other moms and my therapist will say (justputherdownshe’llbeokayaskforhelpnoonecandothisalone), I am paranoid in the way that only brand new parents are, so desperate to keep our babies as pure and content and whole as possible, for as long as possible. Parental damage is inevitable, I know. I don’t want it to start at seven weeks because Mom is a little down.
I am not the first person to ever do this, I berate myself, and somehow, this does not help.
I dread returning to work in a way that I cannot fully articulate. It feels like lead in my bones. I always want and need to be writing. Daycare is so expensive. My resume is a mess! But the dishes aren’t done and the garbage stinks. I keep forgetting to clean out the tub. Frightening, how banal life can become, even as it is transformed by this magical thing, a baby. How do you reconcile such a wonderful gift with the accompanying avalanche of anxiety? With this hemorrhaging of time, of energy? How can I cradle my newborn and cry when I think about her turning thirteen? How can I feel such immense satisfaction at cleaning out my sink, and then slump in defeat when I look into a mirror and see those damn eyebrows, begging for a threading?
Eve has begun smiling already. Already. The hours are so long and then they are gone, somehow, and it is night and the house is quiet, save for the air conditioner, which is loud. And the dark whispers that soon it will be bright again, and I have to do this all again, but not again, because I have already lost today forever.
Everything is slipping through my fingers, it seems, and I’m just trying to hang on, to make sense of this moment before I lose it to the next.
She’s still napping. I should go eat now.