The Learning Curve

​After a doozy of a first week, here we find ourselves at 10 days postpartum. I can’t believe how much has changed since we’ve been home! Dare I say…it’s almost like we’re getting the hang of it.

1. I’m no longer traumatized by Leon’s NICU stay. It was a really upsetting period, but thankfully also a very brief one. Now that we’re home, it seems like just a weird dream or, at most, a distant memory. One thing I hope I don’t forget is the kindness of the nurses at the NICU. They took care of Leon when Minh and I had to leave to sleep or eat, and most of them had enough love left over to throw a hug my way when I cried. I can’t imagine having the strength to be in that environment day in and day out.

2. More than ever, I feel like Minh is my perfect partner. Our first two days home from the hospital, Leon cluster-fed for five hours in the afternoon and wouldn’t sleep for more than an hour or two at a time. I forgot to eat and drink enough water because we were constantly tending to him and trying to find necessary items that had been carelessly tossed in random bags. I was so overwhelmed with the mess from the hospital freebies thrown everywhere and the shock of suddenly being on-call 24/7 that those first two or three days felt like a nonstop fire drill. I didn’t know what would be Leon’s “normal.” But Minh addressed the extra pressure with such determination. He went grocery shopping, cooked, washed dishes, tidied the house, took care of three dogs, and did laundry when I was too overwhelmed to do anything other than breastfeed and nap. He learned how to tie the Moby wrap (which I have yet to figure out) and proposed strategies for remembering how long a bottle has been left out. He kept us sane with humor and affection. He only takes one break from helping with Leon, and that’s the early-morning shift after he stays up all night putting him to sleep. I wouldn’t want to be on this journey with anyone else.

3. I like my baby more in the afternoon/evening. I’m not even sorry. Those 4:30 a.m. screams are REALLY going to be hard to get used to.

4. Physically I’m feeling great. Despite being sleep-deprived, I feel less tired than I was when I was pregnant (take that, nay-sayers!)
My c-section tape fell off and the incision is barely visible; actually, it looks like they took Leon out laparoscopically because the scars from the staples are darker than those from the incision. In a few months, I’d be surprised if the scar was much darker than my skin tone.
My stomach is smaller than I thought it’d be at this point. I still have weight to lose, of course, but I’m surprised about how apathetic I am about it. Something about taking care of an infant leaves less time to fuss about smaller things.
I don’t even hate the few stretch marks I have; I like that they’re asymmetric because it reminds me that Leon’s big booty pushed against my right side for the final few weeks. They’re battle scars.
And I loved being pregnant, but now that I’m not, I realize just how uncomfortable I was towards the end. It’s incredible — every sleeping position is comfortable! I can cut my own toenails! I don’t have to pee every half-hour! I can bend over without grunting!

5. I’m slowly adjusting to this new life. I knew the first couple weeks would be hard, but no one could explain why they were so hard. Now I know. I felt so guilty for the first few days because despite giving birth to him, I didn’t feel an instant connection for this tiny stranger who screamed at any hour of the day for us to feed him and wipe his butt. But it helped to have a sense of humor about how goofy his grunts sound or the weird facial expressions he makes in his sleep or how gross his umbilical stump looks. We’re still learning him, and that’s okay. We know we love him, and the bond will come in time. Every day that passes I want to try harder and harder to be his mommy.

6. Thank God for Amazon Prime.

7. Before this morning, I don’t remember when I last washed my hair. I actually bought more nursing bras online so I can make it a little longer in between loads of laundry. Leon has been hanging out in nothing but a diaper and swaddle for most of the week. But every day I feel like I get my shit together a little more. Yesterday while Leon was napping, I finished a load of laundry, filled out part of Leon’s growth chart, sent some emails, tidied the house, emptied the dishwasher, sorted the mail. I even remembered to eat a snack. I’m basically the anti-supermom right now, but I don’t feel guilty. I’m doing my best and taking care of myself.

8. We learn so many new things every day. Today, we learned that tummy time shouldn’t come immediately after eating. 🙁

9. I still can’t believe that I’m someone’s mom. That is such a big job. My parents were the go-to comforters for me as a kid, as they should have been; they tucked me back in when I had a scary dream and helped me when I got frustrated with math homework. And now I’m that for someone else. I always thought I would get some kind of instant “mom intuition” the second my baby was born, but really I’m just playing it by ear and doing the best I can. I hope it’s good enough.


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