Monday, January 6, 2014

Life before and after Kimmy

It's no secret that my daughter was a huge surprise. After our initial shock, Jarrell and I quickly accepted that Kimmy would be part of our lives without ever looking back. She is such a joy!

We all have our tales of pre-baby naïveté, though, and this is mine.

While I was pregnant with Kimmy, Jarrell and I basically did whatever we wanted when we wanted. We went to the movies, the grocery store, out for drives, to the bedroom to take naps, out shopping, out to eat, etc.

I knew pregnancy was hard work, tiring, and no small responsibility.

I knew labor was painful. I knew it was generally a long process for a first child.

I knew very well that not all babies are good (calm, happy, good sleepers, all that) and was aware that newborns drained you of all energy. However, I had been around enough babies to feel comfortable caring for and being tender with my own newborn.

Despite all the [unsolicited] advice from friends and family, I was still in for a few shockers once my sweet baby arrived. I suppose it's a rite of passage for all parents and is just one of those things you have to experience for yourself.

Shocker #1: morning sickness is no light, laughing matter--pregnancy is hard. It can rock your world. My 1st trimester was ripe with weight loss (22 lbs.) and sleeping up to 18 hours a day. The most physically exhausting time of my entire life to date.

Shocker #2: labor pains HURT, and giving birth is no easy feat. Worst pain of my life. Worse than anyone could ever attempt to describe. Epidurals sometimes don't take. In my case, neither of mine did. Sometimes labor doesn't progress as it should. Birth plans can go awry. C-sections become a valid option when you've all but given up on getting your child out of the womb. (Side note: Having a C-section doesn't make you any less of a person, woman, or mother, and your birth can be just as joyous as a traditional birth!)

Shocker #3: newborns cry. A lot. I was fully prepared for my baby to be instantly comforted by whatever means I attempted to calm her. Wrong! Newborns have to learn to be comforted by what their parents do. It took a full week for Kimmy to be calmed as quickly and easily as I had envisioned. Luckily, I was blessed with a wonderfully happy child who was relatively low-maintenance as newborns go.

Shocker #4: free time is a thing of the past. I knew the first few months would be exhausting, but all those people who warned me about never sleeping again were actually wrong. Kimmy has always been a good sleeper, and sleeping when she slept as an infant made feeling rested a pretty attainable goal most days.

What they really should have warned me about was never getting to do anything on my time table again...such as getting out of the house by a certain time, getting to go to the store alone, being able to spend time or money on yourself or your own needs, and (the most shocking to me for whatever reason) getting to go to the movies. Jarrell and I have been to the movies once since Kimmy was born. One time. We used to go all the time, but what a different phase of life we are in! I've been twice with Kimmy to see animated films, but it would be lovely to go see something with my big love again.

I don't know what I was thinking--maybe that after a certain point in Kimmy's childhood we'd get more free time. Or I guess maybe that's true, but we're still a few years away from that. Babies and toddlers need constant care. It is very much a give, give, give activity being a mother...but I gain much more than I ever thought possible by giving my love and attention to Kimmy-girl.

(And, luckily, we do have one free night of childcare lined up for when we do decide to go to the movies next! It's wonderful to have good friends.)

The lesson in all this: be appreciative. Priorities change, life becomes about other things, and routine becomes a thing of the past. Through all this, never take things for granted because you never know when your "normal" will shift.

More later.