Friday, September 01, 2006

The Bad

OK, I finally have some time while Eleanor takes a nap.

I'm thrilled that she's here, but I am having a little trouble adjusting, I think. It's not the "baby blues" of the first two weeks, where I was sleep-deprived and crying and worried I'd made a big mistake. Whatever this is, it's manifesting itself in extreme self-doubt and anxiety. Which is not new for me, but motherhood gives it a whole new thing to attach to.

Basically I feel like I can't do anything right. How much should I be holding her? What kinds of things should I be doing with her when she's awake? Is it OK to put her in the swing for half an hour while I take a shower? Am I wrong to want her to sleep in her own bed, eventually even in her own room?

When she's awake, we sit in her room and play on her playmat. She'll lie on her back and look in the mirror, or at the dots and stripes on the arches. I'll flip her to her tummy and encourage her as she lifts her head and tries to roll over. I'll hold her upright, her favorite thing, and let her look into my eyes. I'll sing to her and make the "heh, heh, heh" noise to make her laugh. I'll read her a story, if she's willing to sit still long enough.

And once I've done all that, half an hour or so has gone by and she's still awake. And I have no idea what else to do. And, frankly, my arms are tired and I'm, well, a little bit bored.

We'll go to the mall in her stroller, and I'll look around at all the other moms with their strollers and wonder if they made up reasons to be there, like I did, just so I could get out of the house.

I'll go to lunch with two women I know from college who are home raising their kids, and then feel cold inside as they spend the whole time talking about how useless their husbands are (good men that I went to school with, men I've known as long as I've known them) and how their babysitters "preserve their sanity."

Other times, I'll go meet Andy for lunch at his office, and we'll sit outside on the MIT campus and eat lunch while the sun shines and a nice breeze blows and Eleanor coos at us, and I think I couldn't possibly be happier.

I'll nurse Eleanor in the recliner in her room, and she'll finish with a soft little sigh of satisfaction and fall asleep on my lap, and I think I could stay there forever.

I used to read five or six books a week. I haven't gotten through an entire one since Eleanor was born. I miss it.

I tried a politically correct baby sling and hated it. I returned it and bought a secondhand Bjorn.

I guess I just feel isolated. I don't know many other women at home, and the ones I do know, well, we don't have a lot in common. I try to get out as much as I can, but it's usually just Eleanor and me. I need to try harder to go to museums, and the zoo, and places like that instead of inventing errands to run.

And I feel so guilty that I feel this way. Aren't I supposed to be submerged in domestic bliss, or something? How can I love my baby and still feel this way? And then other times I get mad - why should I feel guilty? I'm still me. I should still have my own identity. Shouldn't I?

I'm trying to put Eleanor down for a nap whenever she seems really tired. Most of the time I guess right and she goes to sleep. Sometimes I guess wrong, and she's crying for me five minutes later, wide awake. And then I wonder, did I really think she was tired, or was I just hoping she was so I could check my e-mail?

I'm totally rambling. Is this making sense to anyone? Am I horrible?

I don't want to raise my daughter to feel this all-encompassing guilt.


At Saturday, September 02, 2006 12:21:00 AM, Blogger Cherithanne said...

Hello there! I have been reading your blog for a while now but have never replied and just wanted to send you some cyber love.

Being a new mom is tough. I could have written your words when my first son was born. I would play with him for as long as I could stand it when he was awake, but I got so bored sometimes. I loved him to death but could not wait for him to take a nap so that I could have some "me" time.

I guess I don't have any real point other than to tell you that I think your feelings are normal that you are not a horrible person or a bad mom or anything. I was also an avid reader before my son was born and missed it terribly.

I learned over time that babies do not need us to constantly be in their faces in order to learn and grow. Letting her lay in your arms while you take in a good book is a totally ok thing for you to do. She is getting love and comfort and observing the world and you are retaining a piece of yourself by doing something that you love to do. Putting her in a bouncy seat or laying her on a blanket on the table or floor while you sit next to her with your computer and blog or check your e-mail is also ok. You can even talk to her and tell her about what you are doing. She will love hearing your voice and knowing that you are close by.

You do not have to give up your identity because you became a mom. Nor should you. The best way to be a good mom to her is to be good to yourself as well. She needs you to be happy and healthy as much as you need her to be the same.

Motherhood can be a culture shock and a very isolating experience. I would encourage you to check out your local rec center or hospital for some new mom groups. Try them once or twice and see if you can connect with someone who is feeling the same as you. If you don't like it, don't go back and no harm done.

In time you will carve out a new niche for yourself. You are doing great!

At Saturday, September 02, 2006 7:48:00 AM, Blogger Catherine said...

hee're perfectly normal.

I have two suggestions. First, find time for yourself and the things you enjoy. You shouldn't disappear just because you're a mother. Second, try to relax. Just like pregnancy, if you spend all your time worrying, you will miss out on the happiness that is there.

You're doing great. {{{hugs}}}

At Sunday, September 03, 2006 2:24:00 AM, Blogger delphi said...

I agree with Catherine - sounds like you are doing great!

At Monday, September 04, 2006 8:24:00 PM, Blogger vixanne wigg said...

I feel the same way quite often. I need to get out of the house every day or I go stir crazy. And I admit that it's easier to go to the mall than the art museum (the museum is a lot further away).

It gets easier and harder. When I get depressed I think...nursery school is only 1 year and 3 months away. I know that sound awful, but no matter how much I love Gideon I do miss some autonomy.

At Tuesday, September 05, 2006 4:26:00 PM, Blogger Mrs.X said...

Everything you are feeling is perfectly normal. No matter how many pregnancy books we read, it didn't really prepare us for the real thing.
Neither did those parenting books.
Trust your gut and relax. If you spend all your time worrying about doing the right thing, you miss out on all the little things there are to enjoy.
It may be a long time before you can get through several books in a short time span, but as Eleanor gets older, it will get easier.

At Tuesday, September 05, 2006 9:48:00 PM, Blogger Kate said...

I remember feeling the exact same way as you did! Try not to worry- there will come a day in a few months when you look back on these days of semi-boredom as the good old days! ;)

At Wednesday, September 06, 2006 11:32:00 PM, Blogger ethanbsmommy said...

just another vote for Normal.
Don't worry.


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