My new baby will be six months old on Wednesday. I’m kind of in shock, but that’s probably just the months of sleep deprivation, eating badly, and getting barely any exercise talking. Hey, I’m not complaining, but the first six months of baby are pretty exhausting, even when it’s mixed up with plenty of adorable moments. I’m typing this one-handed in between chugging coffee and bouncing my wiggly side-kick on one knee. There is no longer any opportunity to do just one thing at a time. I’m starting to fear there never will be.
I was thinking about my first go-round with motherhood. When Tiny-Small was a baby I thought I was going to die. I remember very clearly collapsing on the floor around four months and just sobbing out of sheer exhausting. I am sure I googled “Can a mother die from never sleeping?” and “How many days can a woman go without sleep before she drops dead?” My husband was working so I never asked him to help with night shifts. I never really asked him for help at all because I felt like this whole baby thing was my responsibility. I was a total idiot, obviously.
With baby number two I have changed my thinking. I ask for help. I demand it even. So, baby number two has been easier to care for. She’s also got a much more laid back approach to life in comparison to Tiny-Small. I mean, the lactation specialist from the hospital diagnosed our new addition as “content to starve.” I’m not sure one can be more laid back than that. Still, having a newborn baby always brings a set of challenges to a family. I didn’t cry this time when we reached the four month mark, but I did sigh with relief because I knew we had reached a turning point. Things were changing. This kid was no longer just sleeping and eating. She was actively engaged with the world around her. She was becoming a “real girl.”
As we approach six months I can feel some of the strain starting to lift. Not only is she starting to sleep longer stretches, but she’s eating real food. She’s strong and sturdy too so we’re not so afraid of accidentally breaking her. She’s got a personality and laughs and complains and wiggles. It’s pretty fun. It’s like witnessing the beginning of self-empowerment. It’s like watching the awakening of what it means to be human. It’s like a religious experience. And it’s still so freaking exhausting most of the time, but I am delirious with the kind of hope that a full, uninterrupted hour of asleep at night will give you.
Six months is that moment in motherhood where we can catch our breath for a second or two and survey the damage. What does a year of doing the bare minimum in house cleaning look like? What exactly is all of that stuff under my daughters bed? How many emails have gone unanswered? How many new plies of clutter and unopened junk-mail have burst onto the scene? How many new love handles do I now possess? What can I do to regain a little bit of my old self back? Is the fog of babyhood lifting? Will I soon be able to remember things for longer than three minutes without writing them down?
It’s also a time for self-reflection. I have two children now. How am I doing? Am I surviving? Did I make the right decision? Are we happier as a family? Yes. All yes. I was thinking back to when I started writing this blog. I was pretty angry and frustrated with motherhood. It was such a huge change that I wasn’t prepared for. I was having an identity crisis and obsessed with what I had lost or was missing. I wrote things like Existential Panic Attack Brought On by the Green-Eyed Monster. I was struggling.
This time I am so much more relaxed and accepting of my “new” life as mom. I know how to go with the flow and what is necessary to worry about and what isn’t. I’m a better mother and now that I have two kids I’m also a happier mother. Experience makes a world of difference. That and I am not so afraid that being a mom means I can’t be anything else. I know I am capable of doing more than one thing at a time. I’ve been doing it for years now!
What happens when your baby turns six months? You breathe. You Open Your eyes wide. You suck up as much joy as possible. You reassess. You smile. Then you find someone to entertain the little rascal so you can go take a much needed nap!
And if you are really, really lucky you find someone willing to come in and clean up your house. I’m still hoping to be that lucky as I sit here sipping coffee and pretending I don’t see that giant, stuffed broccoli staring at me from the hallway floor. I have a feeling I’ll be sitting here hoping for a nice long while.