I am a mother to four children ages 6, 5, 3, and 1. No, those were not typos.
We are beginning to reap the benefits of children so close in age. Our oldest two are BFFs and our middle two are great playmates. The older three even play nicely together for 15-20 minute spans of time! But having so many so close has broken my baby fever.
Let me explain:
I was a babyholic. I L-O-V-E-D them. I babysat since the age of 14, and the babies were my favorite. All the typical loves: the way they smelled, the way they cooed, their sweet gummy smiles, their twinkling laughs. When my friends started having babies, I was always anxiously waiting for the go-ahead from their hubbies that baby and mama were ready for visitors. I’d rock and cher-cher those babies for a few hours.
And then it was my turn for that little blue line … and my turn again … and again … and again. And it was NOT the beautiful, glowing, sweet, calm pregnancy and infancy I observed through others.
I suffered with hyperemesis gravidarum with all 4 pregnancies.
I was exhausted all the time because I vomited all the time. If you thought that was pregnancy glow, WRONG; it was the sheen of sweat from trying not to vomit or having recently vomited. I worried later that I traumatized my children who often had to communicate with a mama who couldn’t move off of the bathroom floor, except to refill sippy cups. And for my first three, we were away from family and any consistent help.
Then birth. My first was a horrible, long, painful, labor and delivery: vacuum, foreceps, grade 3 tear. I couldn’t sit for two weeks. Getting in and out of bed made me cry (not to mention that damn car ride home from the hospital). Plus difficulty breastfeeding. And a reflux / failure to thrive baby. And a husband in his intern year of medical residency (aka too-bad-if-your-family-needs-you-year). And four months later, that little pink line. *cringe* My second birth was better, but back labor and a baby in distress made it stressful, and damnit I still had a grade two tear. Baby three was my easiest and tiniest — still a grade two. Baby four had complications with the epidural, and I literally thought I was dying — and another grade two.
With all of these babies came all of the accompanying physical issues: pubis symphysis disfunction #googledat, bladder incontinence, bowel incontinence, sleep deprivation, constipation, hemorrhoids, back pain, hip pain, tennis elbow #babyelbow, chaffed nipples, painful breasts, and a raging hormonal roller coaster.
Adjustment to motherhood was rough.
The long days melted into nights of waking every hour, or two, or three to feed a baby. Bouncing and rocking and pacing to try to calm a screaming banshee of a baby. Panicking that said baby would wake up the other babies in the house and start a VICIOUS cycle of sleep deprivation. Packing up babies to drop off at daycare. The total giving of your body and mind to this little one that is totally your responsibility. Motherhood is overwhelmingly heavy.
I am now at a place of healing. All parts of my body are MINE; no more bottles; physical therapy helped with all the physical pain; my pelvic floor is re-strengthening so there are minimal issues with incontinence; and I feel like I am finally getting a grip on my emotions through the help of medication, supplements, and exercise. And we get to sleep for 5-6 hours stretches most nights for the first time in nearly six years.
But now, anytime I see a baby my stomach turns.
And I feel BROKEN! OMG! Am I a mother who doesn’t love babies?!
Yes. It’s true. Bring me your toddler, preschooler, or teenager.
But babies scare the hell out of me.
They have wrecked my body and broken my spirit. When I see them, I am reminded of my rough and rocky and vomit-y and hemorrhoid-y path to motherhood, and I swear my perineum cringes when that sweet baby smell passes over my nose.
It can feel isolating because most women my age — my friends, my SISTER — are popping babies out left and right, and I gotta practice my dodge and weave. I’ll fold your laundry or come clean your house, but please don’t be offended that I don’t run up to scoop that baby out of your hands. It has nothing to do with that sweet little love, it’s just another cruel trick motherhood has played upon my weary brain. It’s like a switch turned off, and I really can’t remember what it felt like when it was on anymore.
I am sure that this feeling, like all of those other crappy, witchy, not-fun feelings of motherhood will pass. But with each milestone my youngest reaches, I am SO HAPPY that she is moving away from babyhood. I am loving her entry into toddlerhood and watching her chunky legs walking all over our home, running after her siblings.
Maybe when she has her own children I’ll be ready to flare up my baby-elbow for old time’s sake and rock some grandbabies to sleep …