It's hard to believe that we're already at the end of February and the girls are almost four months old. The last month and a half or so has been so much fun. They know who we are, and give us the brightest, happiest smiles. Annabelle's eyes light up and her mouth opens wide into the most adorable expression of glee. Charlotte raises her eyebrows, crinkles her nose and gives you a sideways glance and a mischievious grin. They're rolling over, trying to sit up, playing with toys, giggling at the baby in the mirror, trying out their voices, chewing on their hands. They take naps in their own room, giving me a much needed few hours to myself throughout the day. It takes ten or fifteen minutes to get them to sleep at night instead of three hours. They interact with the world around them, and even seem to be beginning to notice each other as they'll suddenly stop what they're doing and stare intently at the baby across the way. In short, I am loving this mom gig.
But full, brutal, honest disclosure? I didn't always.
It's still hard to admit that to myself. To know how hard we had to try to get here, and how much I felt like we'd made a huge mistake for the first two months of the girls' lives--that I wasn't cut out for this.
It's strange, because you hear all about baby blues and post partum depression and how hard motherhood is, but it's something that you just cannot prepare yourself for or understand until you are in the trenches. And once you're in there--the bullets whizzing by your head, in the same pajamas for the third day straight, a screaming baby in your arms and one ramping up, exhausted, sick to death of feeding your child--it suddenly seems like everyone around you is experiencing this perfect, rosy version of motherhood.
I think the world of social media has to take a lot of the blame for that. Now that I'm coming out on the other side of the horrible "fourth trimester", I look back and realize that I projected--or tried to project--that same image. Everything is perfect. I couldn't ask for a happier life. Look at this beautiful Instagram-filtered photo of my ideal life. But don't look beyond it. Don't really see me.
It took me time to fall in love with my babies. That's another one I wasn't expecting. Not only is motherhood hard, but either there is something very wrong with me, or not everyone forms an immediate, loving bond with their child. I was caring for these tiny strangers who didn't care, or even know, one way or another about my existence. I had a very strong protective instinct toward them--so strong that I experienced my first anxiety attacks after their birth. So strong that I was physically incapable of "sleeping when the baby sleeps". But I didn't feel an instantaneous, enjoyable love.
Combined with that, was the horrible guilt that I didn't feel like holding them all the time, that I resented the fact that they were attached to me every two hours--sometimes more. I was almost angry about the fact that breastfeeding went so well because it meant that I never got a break, that I didn't have an excuse to just formula feed and not be solely responsible for their nourishment. I actually do enjoy nursing now, and am so glad that I stuck with it, but it has taken me almost four months to get to this point. It took me almost two months to learn to enjoy my children, and to love them in something other than just a primal way. To enjoy their company. To look forward to seeing their little faces when they wake up, and not dread the moment.
I still feel awful confessing these things, but I feel even more awful keeping it a secret. Maybe this is normal. Maybe other people have these feelings. I don't know. Looking back, I wish I had realized that I was experiencing a little more than just the baby blues. I realized it in retrospect, but by then I was starting to come out of it and didn't feel the need for professional help.
I'm so glad that I had a supportive family here to help out with holding babies, cooking dinner, not judging me and my pajamas. That I have a husband who could not possibly be more helpful. Who changes diapers, gets up with me at night, rocks screaming babies to sleep, cooks dinner, helps clean the house, doesn't judge me and my pajamas. That I have two beautiful baby girls who I have finally fallen completely in love with.
I'm still not at the point where I can say that I hope we have another baby some day, but I have gotten to the place where I can understand why people would want to do this again. When I was stashing away the outgrown newborn and 0-3 month clothes, I actually found myself wondering if I should save it for possible future use. So things have gotten better. We're all doing better. But I wanted to be honest about how I got to this point. Maybe someone else out there is feeling these same things. Maybe everyone else feels them. Maybe no one else does. But it was my experience.