So I’ve been very bummed out about the Cirque du Soleil thing and I’ve been trying to figure out why. I mean sure, Cirque is great, but I should be able to just get over this. It obviously means something more. And I think I’ve figured out what it is.
These first months with a small baby are hard. Throw in a preschooler and it gets really hard. Thrown in chronic illness and it feels almost impossible. Right now, my needs are languishing under EVERYONE ELSE’S needs. I am taking care of everyone else over myself, because I have to. And that means, most days, my needs are not being met. I’m not getting the sleep that I need. I’m not getting the nutrition that I need. I’m not getting the human contact that I need. I’m just not. And right now, there isn’t really anything I can do to change that. There isn’t anything anyone can do to change that.
Not being able to go to Cirque is a perfect example of that. The whole thing is waiting there for us to take it. We have free tickets. We have two capable adults who love our children ALREADY STAYING at our house. We have a baby who can drink from a bottle. And I probably could manage to make enough milk for said baby to keep him sated through the night. (This is my biggest concern, not being able to pump enough before I go–my supply is actually dwindling quite a bit, which I guess is good?!) We have everything that we need and yet we’re not going because it might be too hard for our parents to manage our two kids. We don’t KNOW that it would be too hard, but the evenings are challenging times, especially for baby boy right now. And while we do know that he’ll take a bottle, we don’t know that he can get through “the witching hour” without me around. We also don’t want to subject my parents to the possible fallout if things go awry.
And so we don’t go, just in case. Because that is what good parents do, right? They put their children’s needs ahead of their own, whenever they can.
That is what we’re going to do. That is what I am doing, every single day. And I’m not quite sure how to make space for myself when I’m doing that. I’m not sure how to protect my sense of self when it’s so intimately intertwined with these two little, helpless beings, that I love so much and that need me so completely. It’s really, really hard.
I forgot how hard these early weeks and months are. I forgot how suffocating the isolation can feel. I forgot how devastating the sleep deprivation can be. (Holy shit, it is KILLING me right now). I forgot how frustrating breastfeeding feels when you know you’re not doing it quite right and no one seems to be able to help you. And, of course, I didn’t know how hard it would be to owe myself to two small creatures instead of just one. I didn’t know how impossible it would be to meet both their needs and manage both their expectations. I didn’t know how overwhelming it would feel to have so little time for myself.
I’m sure this post sounds incredibly negative. I want to assure you all that it’s not really all that bad. I’m not stuck in some deep hole of despair. Mostly I’m just tired, and my boobs hurt and I feel incredibly overwhelmed. But I also know that someday it will get better. I know that this too shall pass. I know that we’ll get through cold and flu season to a time when we’re not all sick, all the time. And some day I won’t have thrush and it won’t feel like searing glass is being pulled through my nipples when we nurse. And I know that some day my son won’t choke and cough and pull away, crying in frustrating, during random breastfeeding sessions. And I know that some day, there will be a rhythm to our days, and that rhythm might help create purpose and meaning and I might actually feel like an adult human being again.
In the meantime, I still delight in my son. He’s amazing and I cherish my time with him. I feel so lucky to have him in my life, even if I’m not quite sure how to manage this new life with him in it. We’re going to get through these hard days, me, my son, my daughter and my partner. Some day, maybe even soon, we’ll look back on these days and say, “Remember that? Thank gawd it’s so much better now.”