My son, J., is three months old today. When I look back at the photos taken of him during those first minutes and days I am amazed at how much he is different and yet the same. Those big eyes of his are still the biggest things on his face, but they are now closely rivalled by his smile. His thick mop of unruly hair is still a thick mop of unruly hair, but now the curls that used to vanish with a sweep of the comb are holding out a little longer. He still loves bathtime, but he’s kicking out of his tub these days. I am still every bit as besotted with him as I was in the moments after my c-section and am every day grateful that I get to be his mom.
But motherhood isn’t exactly what I thought it would be. My maternity leave flew by and if I am able to swallow down the guilt long enough to admit it, I was glad to go back to work. Not having my full income (I had been working with a combination of savings, vacation time, holiday pay, and a generous gift from my father) was an incredible amount of stress. I’m still not past the anxiety and I find myself going over my budget and accounts literally every single day. I live in fear of the day that I will actually have to put J. in daycare, though right now we are incredibly fortunate that a family friend is able to watch him for the one day each week I need care. I’m also still struggling with the professional sacrifice I made to minimize that daycare need. Switching from what was my “dream job” to go back into the office I left for said dream job has been hard. That isn’t to say my new role isn’t satisfying or that I am unhappy; it’s just that there is something difficult in letting go of something you love.
I had expected that by three months in I’d have some sort of flow. I wasn’t expecting miracles, mind you. I didn’t think I’d have a perfectly clean house and wear a full face of makeup every day, but it has surprised me that more days than not I don’t get out of my pajamas and I have literally gone a full week without a shower. J.’s room is only half decorated and, due largely in part to his reflux issues causing him to sleep in his swing, that room is as much storage as it is a baby’s room. I still haven’t sent out thank you cards for the incredible and generous gifts my son has received. In a couple of instances I haven’t even unpacked them. The baby doesn’t have a routine (we’re letting him sort of drive the bus until he figures out what his sleep/wake looks like) and as a result neither do I. Those first few days out of the hospital I was up bright and early, but these days? Well, last Thursday J. and I were in bed until noon.
My body is another thing I hadn’t expected to still be getting used to. As a plus sized woman I knew going into it that my body would be different at the end. I didn’t have any expectations that I’d have the baby and walk out of the hospital a supermodel. That I have lost over fifty pounds since delivery has been a surprise to me, but so have the other changes. The never-ending period. The random infections. The strange ghost pains in my abdomen, no doubt nerves awakening even now from my c-section. And even though I’m thinner the shape of my body has changed, partly from looser skin and partly simply just from the element of change. I don’t know how to dress this new body on the off chance I actually get to put on real pants. Some days I don’t even care.
Perhaps most surprising of all, though, has been just how raw my emotions are even now when I think about my own mother. Not having her hurts more now than it did before. There is so much she’s missing. There’s so much I’m missing getting to ask her.
But despite all the broken illusions and the unexpectedly uncharted territory there is one thing that I know for sure: despite all the times I’ve lost my patience only to break down crying in the bathroom at 3am and despite all the times I’ve had no clue what I’m doing and wondered why I got into this, I wake up every day to the grins of the world’s cutest little boy and I am humbled that I’m the person who gets to be his mother. Three months in there is one thing I know for sure: I regret nothing.