I found this buried under pages of unpublished writing from the first few post-baby months as a new mom, and I think it perfectly sums up the unique and unexpected ways that a baby can change you…
It’s the mantra of motherhood, echoing through the decades: “Everything changes.” I’ve even said it myself because, really, those two words about all a new mother can muster when faced with the enormity of her new life. Fearmongers warn of being awake for 56 consecutive hours, screaming cries that last for three months straight, and breasts that wither from a D cup to an A cup. I was warned, “You’ll have empty tube socks in your bra.”
I was expecting the physical changes and an increase in daily responsibilities — like, I’d have to pack some diapers before I left the house, and I’d have to put little locks on my kitchen cabinets. But those weren’t the real changes. Here are 10 ways my life changed in the first few months as a new mom:
1. When I pass a horrific car accident, I feel a wave of nausea and heartache as I think, “that’s someone’s child” or “that’s someone’s parent.” I can’t bear to hear someone being ridiculed or belittled — no matter the age — because my heart breaks as I think of that person once being someone’s baby. And then I think about someone saying mean things about Noah, and my heart breaks again. To sum up: My heart breaks on a daily basis. I feel things deeper, stronger — like a dead fawn on the side of the road, or a sick child on a television show.
2. War, global warming, the over-sexualized media — all have a new meaning now that I brought a life into this world. Bring up the subject of foster care, starving children, or global pandemics, and I become temporarily insane.
3. I have a new respect for my body and its purpose. The thought of breasts being sexual is silly.
4. Once upon a time, I went to bed and slept a restorative deep sleep. Then I had a baby. The end.
I’m not only talking about the nighttime wake-ups — that varies from child to child — but the slightest whimper, the slightest exhale, the simple fact that he’s been sleeping for too long all instantly wake me from across the hall. I’m always in a constant state of alert, even while asleep.
5. I feel deeply offended when men make suggestive comments or suggestive glances. I want to scream, I AM A MOTHER.
6. I put Noah on my shoulders, he spits up on my head, I rub the white liquid into my brown hair and continue with my day.
7. Walking up the stairs after a long work day, I hear my husband reading Curious George to our infant son after bathing and feeding him. I stop outside the doorway, listening to the silly voices, and my heart swells. I never expected to love someone so deeply for such unromantic reasons.
8. It’s hard to concentrate on post-baby sex when you’re preoccupied with the possibility of your breasts leaking.
9. The concept of boredom is incomprehensible. It’s like running on a treadmill that occasionally changes speeds but never stops.
10. I woke up this morning at 4 a.m. and achingly missed Noah, the way a child misses her best friend that moved away. Or a teenager misses her first love. I quietly went into his room, scooped him up, and brought him into bed with me. I held him next to me, stroked where his nose meets his forehead, felt his body move with each breath. His tiny hand clutched my shirt and a faint smile spread across his face. And in that moment, all my needs and wants in life were met. Nothing else mattered.
How did YOUR life unexpectedly change after having a baby?