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Pregnancy and New Motherhood == Surviving Teenagedom.

I’ve been blissfully adult-ing for over a decade now. The raging colors and hyped up versions of myself as a teenager have all but faded away, memories to look back on and laugh at – “Oh, how young and stupid we were.” But now, with an infant, as these short hours and long days drag forward, I find myself constantly looking backward on that rocky time in my life when I was learning to drive and counting the stars. (and totaling my father’s car.)

Now that I’m a mom, I feel young and stupid all over again. I thought I had life figured out, I thought I was the ruler of my own universe. She came along and broke all my rules, spun me in circles until I didn’t know which way was up and which was down. Slowly she is teaching me how to get my life together. She is such a patient, incredible teacher, waiting for me to catch up as I flounder through life as a parent. I don’t know what I’d do without her.

Puberty. Pregnancy.

Pregnancy was a grown up version of puberty. My body was consistently doing something I wasn’t aware it could do, surprising me at every seemingly very wrong turn.

  • Completely unpredictable skin. One minute I was “glowing” and the next I was watching stretch marks competing for space with the silver ones I already had from freshman year of HS. Acne, back-ne, chest-ne, everything was broken out, all the time.
  • Sweat and BO from hades and that SMELLS LIKE SOMEONE ELSE. How does that even happen? It’s a head trip – mentally like snuggling with a sweaty, smelly stranger.
  • My vision changed – suddenly my prescription glasses weren’t strong enough.
  • My breasts burst out of every bra I owned and I couldn’t buy new ones fast enough.
  • I found myself wanting the 90’s trend of tying a flannel around your waist to be back in style – it was such a functional trend for teenage girls (and apparently pregnant women as well, as they sweat through each pair of dress pants in turn, and leave ass marks on every chair.)

The Fourth Trimester. First Love.

Then I had the baby (let’s talk about something this traumatizing as teenagers another time. So, anything on the topic of being a teenager and being in love.) 

  • I cried all the time for no reason and all the other times for all the reasons. The emotional highs and lows were a roller coaster that I couldn’t get off of, leaving me hanging desperately on to the handrail and praying I survived the upcoming drop.
  • I was hopelessly in love with someone who really didn’t know that I existed. The first time she really locked eyes with me was magical, the first smile heart-breakingly sweet. She can make my heart beat in time with her own with one cry, I’d move the very mountains for a twinkle in her eye. She turns me into a poet, a love struck, raging hormonal teenage drama queen who just KNOWS that this moment is (Has GOT TO BE) the most important moment in the world.

Months 3-5. Teenage Boys.

  • Even without having to sneak beers, I was still constantly covered in slobber and/or vomit. It’s a party.
  • Inappropriate noises are hilarious. The louder, the better.
  • Sneaky, slightly panicky “we might get caught” sex. ’nuff said.

Baby. Graduation.

Now she is a little older but still certainly a baby. When I left for college I could at least claim I was legally an adult, even though I still sent dirty laundry home as packing material.

  • There is always puke on my couch but at least now I attempt to clean it instead of re-arranging pillows for the fifth time.
  • I am still sleep deprived but maybe not quite as badly, drinking coffee like my life depends on it.
  • I’m even attempting to even clean up my intake instead of eating whatever is in the pantry. Then I don’t sleep a few nights and find myself eating bagels and daydreaming about vending machine pop-tarts.
  • I cherish the little things, like peeing alone, because I know that it won’t last much longer.
  • I find myself listening to the Shins more often than not, and for some reason every time I feed her solids I catch myself thinking about the movie Garden State.
  • I stare longingly out the window like a kid in a classroom, watching the warm summer breeze move through the trees as I am held hostage by a small, tyrannical ball of chubby cheeks and gummy smiles.
  • I’m a little scared. A lot excited. I know that I’ll never be ready for what tomorrow may hold, but am perfectly okay with the anticipation. I see how amazing the future will be.
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Things I Think at 2am.

I’m so tired.

Why won’t you stop screaming?

I’m so tired.

I wonder what is happening in the middle east right now.

Oh good, she stopped screaming. Fuck, she pooped.

FUCK THERE’S POOP EVERYWHERE WHY DIDN’T I TURN ON THE BIG LIGHT

I’m so tired.

I hate Hollywood so much. We should move so we don’t have to raise a teenage girl in LA.

Stop screaming!

There’s poop on my arm. Oh well. It’s not like I’ll ever be clean EVER AGAIN IN MY LIFE.

We’re never having another kid.

My back hurts. My boobs hurt. My feet hurt. I’m tired.

I’m pretty sure that shadow just moved on it’s own. ZOMG we aren’t alone in this room.

How am I a mother and I’m still afraid of the dark? This is impossible. I fail at life.

She fell asleep!

I love her.

Let’s have 6 more.

What a sweetie.

Awww. I feel like the Grinch; my heart will burst with love!

Ok, I’m staring like a creeper. I’ll sneak out now.

FUCK THE SQUEAKY DOOR I HATE THIS FUCKING DOOR.

She’s screaming again.

***Repeat from top.***

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Top 10 Things to Get a (Brand) New Mom.

There’s no baby stuff on this list for a reason – this is a reminder to not forget about the mom, who probably feels like she just pushed an enormous cheese grater out of her delicates. I say get, since some of these would be rather odd gifts. Unless you have a sense of humor like my sister and I, (on par with that of a 5 year old), in which case, buy nothing but hemorrhoid cream and dark chocolate.

1. I don’t care who you are or who she is, just do this. Frozen meals. Casseroles that can be eaten for days. Food of any and every kind. I guarantee you that even if they are vegetarian, they will dig into spaghetti and meatballs like it was the last food on earth. Cooking is the last thing you want to do when you are up to your eyeballs in diapers and hallucinating from the lack of sleep. (Unless you’re my husband, who decided to make 3 dozen home-made english muffins 2 days after we came home. People deal with stress in different ways. Also, yum.)

2. Is she a friend? A cozy yet stylish set of *matching* pajamas. Button up front if breastfeeding. There were so many times that I felt so much better about myself – even though I didn’t get dressed I at least had on something that matched. The early days are a total mental game. A word to the wise – buy a size larger than you think you’ll need! Milk boobs are no joke.

3. Do you know her really well? Make a bathroom box. Sitz spray, overnight pads, tucks and stool softener. Get a pretty box from the local craft store and go nuts. Bathroom shit sucks for a long time, at least this way she’ll have something sparkly to look at. Because lord know she doesn’t want to look anywhere else.

This is a great one - the Camelbak Eddy

This is a great one – the Camelbak Eddy

4. Care a lot but can’t spend a lot? Chapstick and a great water bottle that can be used with only one hand. The thirst is real.

5. Big spender? Get her a tablet or an e-reader. Nights are long and lonely with a newborn. Even better if you do this in the first trimester of pregnancy when all she can do is lay on the couch and moan about how sick she feels. My husband gifted me a Kindle Paper White really early on, and the thing has paid for itself over and over again. Just be careful – I couldn’t read (or watch) anything that wasn’t fluffy as hell for months postpartum, because I’d lose my shit and bawl all over the damn thing. Even if it was suspense, it was too stressful. So maybe stick to some chick-lit and rom-coms.

6. Acquaintance or someone long distance? Amazon Prime. Because you know she is going to need everything that she didn’t buy, and not need everything she did. Two day shipping is two days too long with a newborn, but it’s better than nothing. Plus, you can buy things at 3am.

7. A REALLY good friend? Come over and sit with her. Hold her baby so she can go cry in peace. Clean her kitchen, do the dishes. Strip the bed and do the laundry. Don’t speak unless spoken to, and don’t make a fuss. Just be proactively helpful. Circling back to #1, bring food. Don’t bring expectations.

8. Husband? Partner? Wife? Change the diapers. Let her cry. Do everything possible to make things okay, even if that means baking english muffins like a madman. Be there, and be as helpful as possible. Don’t freak out when she tells you she hates you and that this was a huge mistake. Love her. Tell her she is beautiful even when she has fluid leaking out of every body part. Tell her it will be okay. Believe it. My husband was there for me, and he was my only rock, keeping me from floating away in the tide of tears. It made all the difference in the world.

9. Other Family? Give time and space. Don’t push babysitting the new grand baby until she is ready. Bring food and coffee and more shoulders to cry on. Be open without pushing the boundaries. Give the new family some time, and you will be on speed dial for babysitting before you know it. Old family recipes for pie help too.

10. Everyone – support. In all the ways listed and all the ways I haven’t thought of here. Answer the phone calls, be supportive, tell her you love her and tell her over and over and over that it WILL get better. I called my mom 3 days in and said “I love you very much for having me but I really don’t understand how I exist because I have an older brother and HOW CAN ANYONE DO THIS MORE THAN ONCE.” She laughed at me. And told me it would be okay.

A Quick DON’T GET List (At Least Not Immediately)

Necklaces. Those little silver engraved initials are so cute until the kid decides to tug them off your neck and break you or the chain. (or both). This, like everything else in the early days, is followed by tons of crying by everyone involved.

Spa Certificates. (Unless they can be used months later.) A massage sounds awesome but there is no way that you can lay face down on a table with milk-boobs. In fact, even if it wasn’t painful as hell, I would just have anxiety the whole time that I was causing a clogged duct.

Fancy pretty clothes. This is just insulting. Even if she was able to fit into whatever size was purchased, she’d likely leak milk and sweat (hormones are real) all over everything. (If she really likes clothes, go with a comfy sweatshirt instead.)

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Mommy-ish(ly).

When I became a mother, my world fell apart.

I was home from the hospital for a mere number of hours and opened the the fridge, (because holy hell I hadn’t eaten in 2 days), and immediately, with the intensity of the greatest of drama queens, burst into sobbing, hiccuping, earth shattering tears.

Because there was food in the fridge.

I was crying at my food. (This was the first of many nonsensical sobbing sessions, but it was the one that has stuck with me the most.)

Not what my fridge looks like. Let's be real here, not what anyone's fridge (really) looks like.

Not what my fridge looks like. Let’s be real here, not what anyone’s fridge (really) looks like.

Somehow, in this snapshot of milk and cheese, my entire “old” life sat staring at me, taunting me. “Lookie here, all this stuff you bought when you were just you. When you and your husband were sleeping and being spontaneous, hiking and biking and going out to expensive restaurants. When you were happy.”

I slammed the fridge door, listened to all of the condiments jingle against each other, and cried.

I wouldn’t eat the food, nor let my husband throw anything away. For weeks we had a fridge full of rotting food. Full of my old life, rotting away. I think my husband finally started sneaking things out when I wasn’t paying attention or too tired to care, because somehow we ended up with a clean fridge again.

7 months out, I am still filling that void, piecing together the remnants of an old life with this new, groggy life of extreme joy – and sometimes, debilitating sorrow.

I am a mommy. ish. ly. And it’s fantastic. And it’s hard. And it’s… full of “ish” and full of “ly”. Full of approximation, almost-but-not-quites. It’s full of anxiety, while simultaneously deciding to throw caution to the wind.

Doing my best to take care of her. And me. And him and us.

(It might also be full of swear words and sarcasm. And wine.)

Welcome to Mommyishly.