While checking out at Trader Joe's last week, the cashier oohed and ahhed over our adorable little two-week-old. Then she looked into my eyes and asked "how are you doing?"
My eyes filled with tears. This stranger - she gets it.
There have been many moments at 3 a.m. when we're all in tears that I wonder if we'll make it. For the first 10 days of Henry's life, I cried. Not just I'm tired and frustrated tears, but sobbing coming from deep within. A sadness I hadn't felt in years.
I cried when he cried. I cried whenever someone left our house. Whenever someone said something nice. Each time the tears flowed, I felt guilty. Here this miraculous, life changing event occurred, I have a wonderful husband, supportive parents and perfect son and I'm sad.
My mother friends forgot to mention that part. The way after giving birth, your hormones crash. I felt this cloud of depression swirling around me and slowly taking over as I gave all my energy to keeping this tiny person alive. Thankfully my mom was there to feed me and remind me to eat iron-rich foods, drive me to my appointments, nap when I could and take my pain medication.
My friends emailed promising it gets better. We're not there yet, but each day improves. Shea and I went to church. Then Target. A few days later, I went to Walgreens all by myself. Now Henry and I can even do errands just to the two of us without emotional breakdowns.Though leaving him for three hours while I went to class was a whole different story.
It's still hard. My sleep-deprived brain finds learning how to sanitize bottles, pump breast milk, give him a bath and pack for a weekend trip as overwhelming as my college macroeconomics class. I still cry when he's been screaming for eight hours, and I realize I am up to my ears in laundry, haven't eaten in hours and that stench is not wet diapers but my armpits.
I know it will get better. He'll sleep through the night someday. He'll look up at me and smile instead of a frantic scowl of some unknown complaint. We'll be able to do more than 20 minutes of errands without racing home, panicked that it's time to eat. We will go on occasional dates and even eat real food again. I'll be strong enough to go on a run, and I will fit into my jeans. Someday.
For today though, I did a load of laundry and answered two e-mails. That's enough.