Today marks six months since my due date. It’s so crazy to write that, and almost seems like it can’t be true. Like someone else’s baby is that old but mine is still tiny, even though honestly, he’s measuring the size of a kid twice his age.
It’s true what they say – the days feel long but the months are short. It feels like we time traveled at warp speed to get here, yet his birthday seems far, far away.
So how has it been? Is it all I dreamed it would be? Am I glad I decided to have a baby after being very much on the fence?
I almost didn’t do this at all
There are people who just know that they want to be parents. For them, it is isn’t even a question. It’s meant to be. I am not one of those people. In fact, we came very close to not having kids at all.
Life would be easier without a baby. I would sleep all that I wanted to. I could be totally selfish, which I greatly enjoyed for most of my 20s and half of my 30s, and all of my money could just be spent on me.
I’ve been very lucky that I could travel the world, mostly alone, for nearly 10 years before coming to the decision to have a family.
I enjoyed the serendipity for a while, but I hate to say, like absolutely everything, it eventually got old. I started to wonder what else there was. My love of being selfish when I was younger had turned into joy in helping people as I entered my 30s. Travel was great but didn’t give me the fulfillment it once had.
What else was there? I started to wonder if a child could be it.
It is all consuming, but that hasn’t been shocking
I have a niece who is seven years old. Without her, I might not have made the decision to start a family. I didn’t think I liked kids before she came along, but I realized that they are some of the purest people on earth. If you want brutal honesty, you will get it from a child. I love how in the moment they are, how unconcerned with other people’s opinions. It was so refreshing, and reminded me of the things the world taught me to forget – that being present is all there is. That being real is all that matters. That there is magic in the smallest, seemingly most inconsequential things.
But being around her also showed me how exhausting children can be. It is a full on, 24/7, endless job. And it’s mostly thankless, too. I didn’t appreciate how hard my mom worked for us until I had a job myself, and I couldn’t appreciate how intense birth and especially breastfeeding can be without experiencing it firsthand, too. Even as I write this, I’m hooked up to breast pumps.
I did a lot of research before deciding to have a child. I went into it eyes wide open. I think if I’d had rosie ideals of how it would be and didn’t realize that it would become the biggest focal point of my life, I might have been in for a rude awakening. I think one of the most important things new parents can do is educate themselves on what it really is going to take, which is everything. You have to be willing to give it everything you have and more. To me this is beautiful, but it wouldn’t have been when I was 25.
The negativity surrounding parenting is unfortunate
When I was pregnant, for some reason all of the algorithms were constantly showing me content from people who would say, I have five kids and I love them, but I hate being a parent. It was really upsetting at the time and had me texting my friends for reassurance that they actually liked being parents.
I’m sure that those times come up, and other people’s feelings are valid, but I can’t imagine feeling that way now. I’m so glad I had Felix, and sometimes I can’t believe how close I came to not becoming a mother. It’s not for everyone, but it absolutely is for me.
I think it’s like anything that’s difficult and worthwhile in life. Starting my own business was not easy. There were times when it was the hardest thing I had ever done. I had doubts, I had many 11th hour moments, but now that I’m my own boss I would never go back. Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile. In fact, the toughest things I have experienced have been the most important.
Parenthood is no different. Expecting it to only be easy or fun all the time would be a mistake. I’m so glad to say that I do enjoy it, with all its ups and downs. I know there are more to come, but you’ll never hear ‘just you wait until’ from me.
Postpartum was tough
All of that said, the three months following postpartum are the toughest I have ever experienced. I really struggled with breastfeeding and it made life extremely hard for me. I had postpartum depression, which just made me feel like a different person and subjected me to extreme lows that I’ve never felt before.
To top it off, I wish that I had organized things a bit differently in terms of support. I hadn’t anticipated that finding a nanny during this worldwide staffing shortage would be so difficult, but I should have. I didn’t advocate enough for keeping my space limited to a few key people I felt most comfortable with, but I should have. I wish my partner could have had more time off, and it still blows my mind that the paid time off policy in the US for new parents is nothing at all.
One of the hardest things as an entrepreneur was being unable to work much, yet still having employees to pay despite having no time to earn myself.
There’s so much you’re going through, from body changes, to less sleep, to in my case, pumping around the clock, too. I really wish there was more support for this stage.
But little by little each day felt better, and now that we’re here, as much as I enjoyed each stage of my baby’s development, I don’t wish we could go backward.
I have loved watching him grow and change. I still remember when he was just learning how to look at me, followed by his first smiles, then laughs, and now with him finding peek-a-boo entertaining. I love the way he gets excited and waves his arms and legs when I walk into the room or get him up from a nap. I love how over the past few weeks he’s become a little chatterbox and discovered how to blow raspberries.
It’s these little things that make it so rewarding.
I know that one day he’ll grow up and move on and won’t need me anymore. It’s how I’ll know that I succeeded as a mom.
But for now, for as long as they last, I’m going to enjoy these baby snuggles, try to put the phone down more, and be in the moment like my niece taught me to.
Happy birthday, Felix. I love watching you grow. You’ve helped me grow, too.