Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The reality of parenting

Towards the end of my pregnancy, when I realized that having my baby was going to be happening within a couple of weeks, I began to put myself in panic mode. I started to realize that carrying the baby for nine months was the easy part. I became absolutely petrified of the birthing process,and how I would be, once the baby came. Every night I would tell Matt how I was starting to freak out, and how this was way more nerve racking than getting married and walking down the aisle. So many questions and thoughts ran through my head. The entire thought of giving birth scared the crap out of me, because I had no idea what the pain was going to feel like, and what was going to happen. And if things could go wrong during the delivery. Luckily everything went fine with giving birth. I'm not going to lie, at some points I was scared of the uncertainty of what was going to happen next during delivery, scared of the painful contractions and the actual c-section. But now that I have the baby, all that stuff seems trivial and water under the bridge.

Not only was I afraid of delivering, but I was afraid how to take care of the baby. I really don't know much about babies. I love babies, they are so cute. I love to hold babies, and change the occasional diaper. But one great thing about other people's babies, is when they start crying I can hand them off to their mother. I just don't know much about infants, like understanding their cries, knowing what to do when they are sick, how to take care of them everyday. Ok, maybe I'm not giving myself enough credit, maybe I do know how to take care of babies, but I just feel like I don't know much about babies. I just know how to make them smile, and coo. I feel like caring for infants is out of my element. I have a degree in early childhood education. So when my kid is 4 and up, I feel like I know exactly what to do. But babies? Not so much. So I started to freak myself out and think oh my gosh, I'm having a baby! There is no turning back, I have this little baby for the next 18 years! (Well really for life.) What if I do a terrible job taking care of a baby? These are probably common worries that most new parents have.

Once the baby came, I didn't realize how natural taking care of a baby came for me. Maybe it's just a mother's instinct to know how to take care of their baby. As soon as I held Grant in my arms, all the freakouts I had the previous weeks, melted away. And I knew I could do this. What I didn't know though is taking care of a baby is not as easy as I thought it would be. I'm not sure what I thought taking care of a baby would be like, maybe I naively thought that babies sleep most of the time and I would still have time to do my everyday things. Yes babies do sleep 16-20 hours, but it sure doesn't feel that way when it's more like 2-3 hours of sleep here and there. Maybe I thought it wasn't that hard. After all, movies make it look like it's not that hard to take care of a baby. Hell, even 16 and pregnant makes it look easy to take care of a baby. They only show the teenage girl take care of a baby for like 10 minutes of the show, and with all the editing they do, of course that is why teenagers want to get pregnant and be on that show, because it looks easy and glamorous to be pregnant. Really, 16 and pregnant or teen mom doesn't convey what it is really like to be a parent. It just conveys more of their life drama, but not the actual hardships and patience it takes to take care of a baby. And it's nice when they can dump their baby on to their parents. Even what other people have told me about taking care of babies, it seemed like it was downplayed, because even family members and friends make it sound easy to take care of babies. Though maybe they just forgot how hard it was, because it just keeps getting harder as a parent the older they get. My mom even told me when I was a reign of terror of a teenager;that she would take care of an infant any day then have to take care of a raging hormonal teenager again. She would tell me that taking care of a baby is so much easier than dealing with a mouthy teen. So even my mom made me think it was easy to take care of a baby. Well I could only imagine what it will be like to take care of Grant when he is a teenager if this is what is like to take care of an infant.

I'm probably making it sound like it's absolutely terrible to take care of a baby, but it's not. And I know things will get easier. It's one of these "this too shall pass" kind of things. Maybe years from now I'll look back and laugh at all of this. But right now I just feel drained. I didn't realize how time consuming it is to take care of a baby. My days pretty much consist of this: wake up usually about 9-10 o'clock, Feed Grant, Change his diaper, cuddle with him, put him down,then 15 minutes later he starts crying again, so then I have to cuddle him, usually feed him again. By the time I have an opportunity to even get dressed it is noon.Sometimes I don't even get a chance to eat breakfast until noon. The rest of the day is pretty much like that as well. Anytime I put Grant down he starts crying. Sometimes swaddling him works and he sleeps for a couple of hours, but sometimes it doesn't work. At night from seven to usually 1-2 o'clock Grant is wide awake. I should have known that time was going to be his peak time, considering when I was pregnant with him he moved around the most during those times. The time I usually get to go to bed is usually around one o'clock, the time I get Grant asleep. The nice part is he usually only wakes up twice during the night. But getting eight hours uninterrupted sleep will not happen anytime soon. So then the process starts all over again.

A lot of people have given me the advice "You should sleep when the baby sleeps". This advice in reality is impossible to achieve. When the baby sleeps is the only chance I have to clean the house, to get dress, to take a shower, to have moments of some "me" time. If I sleep I won't be able to get those things done. It's really sad that it took me a week to finally find time to mop the kitchen floor. It was so disgusting, and I kept wanting to do it, but never had the time. I finally got the chance when Grant was sound asleep for 2 hours striaght. It amazing how priorities change when you have an infant. I use to have a list of things I want to get done within a week, like do a fun craft, have the entire house cleaned, update my blog, etc. Now my list composes of what I need to do to complete small everyday tasks. Like when I'm feeding Grant, I'm thinking of what I'm going to do next when Grant is asleep. Like take a shower, get dressed etc. It's amazing how priorities change with a baby. It's very time consuming to take care of a baby. Finding time to do anything is very stressful. I feel like all I do is feed Grant.

I will say I've had a few "Megan spaz out meltdowns" in the duration of being a mom. I've freaked out on Matt a few times, when the stress levels have reached an all time high. Poor Matt has gotten the grunt of my anger. My favorite meltdown was the other day, when I was making dinner. I ended up burning the pork chops I was making of the stove. Grant started crying, the whole kitchen was filled with smoke. I was trying to air out the house to get the smoke out. I moved Grant so he wouldn't get exposed to all the smokiness. Finally I got Matt who was in the workshop working on Grant's baby bed. And all I said was, "I need you to go upstairs to take care of the crying baby, while I make dinner." When Matt came upstairs, it was a hot mess. Grease splattered all over the stove, smoke everywhere, screaming baby, and burnt pork chops. Sigh. I know it will get easier over time. I will say this past week hasn't been as bad, it is getting easier. Grant has actually be sleep 5-6 hours through the night before needing to get fed, and he has been going to bed earlier, which is nice.

Being a mom isn't easy at all. Taking care of a baby is no walk in the park. No taking care of egg babies in home-economics class, or a baby on the game of Sims, or taking care of a pet compares to taking care of a real live baby. Even reality TV doesn't portray the reality of what it takes to care for a baby. I will say so far in my parenting adventure, I am starting to master the art of patience, understanding, and running on small amounts of sleep.

Even though taking care of a baby is rough I must say my favorite moments with Grant is when he snuggles and curls himself on my chest, sleeping like a cute snugly bunny, and I fall asleep with his head resting underneath my chin. I love watching him sleep, it reminds me how precious he is, and how Matt and I made such an amazing drop of life. All the frustrating moments of not getting the baby to stop crying, or waking up in the middle of the night half asleep, or trying to juggle making dinner with a screaming baby- All those stressful moments melt away, when I hold Grant. Because before I know it he'll be all grown up. So while it is hard at times to take care of him, I just remind myself to treasure it, because he'll only a sweet little baby once.

1 comment:

  1. Very true!! I've barely been a mom for a week and I've had a lot of help this week. Cole had some slight jaundice and he eats every 2-3 hours...last night he cried from 10pm-3:30am...why? I don't know...he just did lol...being a mom isn't easy, but it is very rewarding :)