On a sweltering afternoon in late July, I brought a new little baby into this world.
She is perfect. She is full of smiles and surprises. She nurses like she's been doing it for years. I am obsessed with her chunky cheeks and luscious thigh rolls. I adore how she has already mastered ways to communicate her needs and how she loves to fall asleep like a tiny, squishy frog snuggled up against my chest. Her big brother’s favorite past time is kissing and hugging her, and he is genuinely thrilled to be a big helper.
It really is bliss.
But there’s this thing that happens. It happened four years ago with my son, and I forgot about it with my daughter until last week.
That bliss…it wears off. Not all at once, and not in every way. But the bliss becomes less blinding. Everything returns to real life. My husband returns to work. The days are marked by getting kids to stay and sleep in their own beds. Then we fall into bed ourselves, exhausted and hoping for a three hour stretch of uninterrupted sleep before having to soothe, comfort, feed, and change the baby. We work. We clean. We feed. Sometimes we eat. But mostly, it’s just a weird blur of survival.
As a woman who has lived many lives in this single Earth journey, this life is one of my least favorites. Beyond the exhaustion and monotony of tiny baby life, I begin to feel very uncomfortable in my own skin.
All of a sudden, I realize I’m in a strange new body. My hormones do wild loops that I can’t control. My boobs grew three sizes larger overnight and constantly get in the way. And when I even think about my baby or look at a cup of coffee, I get a letdown so hard that I soak through the bulky pads that I stuff in my new fancy nursing bra. If I’m lucky, I won’t soak through. If I’m not, well, I have to keep my slightly-too-tight windbreaker zipped up on 85-degree day until I can get home and change. None of my clothes fit, I still look pregnant. The desire to turn into a lizard and crawl out of my own skin is powerful.
Then there’s the insecurity. It’s a ton of bricks that I carry around and occasionally enjoy hitting myself with.
Am I still interesting? The answer is probably not. Because my life is very boring.
Is that hottie I made two babies with still into me? Absolutely, but sex feels like a thing that happened for another person, and definitely not to me.
Was that comment I made in a sleep-deprived haze funny or offensive? Offensive, for sure. Commence rerunning that single comment in my head until I’ve convinced myself that I am actually the worst human that ever lived.
Will this acne ever clear up? Yes. Just in time for menopause, which is right around the corner because you are nearly 40.
This hair is impossible. What happened to the soft, shiny, thick hair I had during pregnancy? It’s gone forever. I will now invest in expensive hair products that are literal trash but I know can’t fix what’s really wrong.
Will I ever look like I had a full night’s sleep? Will I ever feel well-rested again? Nope and super nope. Unless some distant life five years from now counts.
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Truly, it’s like going through puberty all over again. Who wants to do that? NOT ME.
But here I am anyway, feeling frumpy and dumpy and completely irrelevant.
My soul cringes for the 13-year-old mother of two inside me. And the kicker is, I know that this isn’t just because I had a baby. It’s because I had a massive life change and I am seeking comfort during a period of time where I’m chronically uncomfortable, just like I always do when life turns itself upside down. I feel disconnected to everything that makes me feel like me. It’s kind of the worst.
And it’s temporary.
I know this because it happened once before and it will happen again. One day soon, I will wake up and feel like I’ve got this. My body will be mine again. Not because I waved a magic wand and erased the evidence of the two babies it has carried and fed, but because I will slowly get used to the soft skin and squishy belly and the mental gymnastics of carrying two small humans in my mind all of the time. I will laugh in my old ways, my husband will touch me in the familiar ways, and the new normal of the same constant life will begin to feel like comfort again.