Just add water

Hello, my name is Salina Beasley and I am a chronic over-achiever. I always have been. It’s obnoxious really. I was the Hermine Grainger type in school– finishing papers 2 weeks early and doing the extra credit even if I was already acing the course. What can I say? I’m a doer. All right, that’s putting it mildly. As I write this, I am looking at a row of titles I so diligently studied before I had my first child, and I have to laugh at myself. I’m embarrassed to admit that I actually thought I could ace the “mommy” test if I read all of the right books and followed all of the right advice.  My “just add water” approach to parenting would have been very effective for raising puppies or chia pets perhaps, but not children. Nevertheless, when my son, Salem was born, I was so overly confident that whatever this little pooper could dish out, I would be ready for it. [Insert disclaimer here: Moms, please do not hear me making light of post partum depression. It is a very real thing (even if Tom Cruise doesn’t think so).] Anyone that has gone through it can attest to the hormonal free-fall, the mind-numbing exhaustion, or the fact that every 2 hours it feels as though there is a piranha attached to your breast sucking your very will to live. “Nipple soreness”…. Talk about putting it mildly. Who thought that was an accurate description? Clearly someone who never breastfed before… probably a man…. probably Tom Cruise. Anyway, the point is that I began to suspect that perhaps someone had tossed out my “A” score with the placenta. No parenting book could have prepared me for how difficult it would actually be. My husband, Clark, and I kept asking each other, “Why didn’t anyone tell us it would be this hard?” He thought that all parents were part of a secret society sworn to downplay the reality of life after birth. Our friends with kids would see us all disheveled, looking like poster children for the world’s worst hangover and in a very inaugural way put their hand on our shoulder as if to say, “you are now a parental conspirator avowed to disguise the truth from childless unsuspecting. You are hereby entitled to use mild phrases like ‘baby blues’, ‘low energy’, and ‘nipple soreness’. Welcome to the fellowship.”  I can look back on it now and laugh at my own ignorance, but in real time, I feared that life, my body, my marriage, and my nipples would never be the same

One afternoon, my friend Lindsey came over to see Salem and I. She brought fresh bread and a list of daily activities I should do as an alternative to jumping off the nearest bridge. The list went something like this:

1.    Take a shower

2.    Put some makeup on even if you don’t plan to leave the house

3.    Pray and journal

4.    Get some fresh air

5.    Do something for yourself

6.    Spend time with friends

Here suggestions were so simple, but little by little, over time, the fog lifted and I began to feel sane again.

What are some of the things you did to rediscover life after birth?

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7 Comments

  1. ginnygum said,

    September 24, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    i just want you to know that i literally laughed out loud at some of your word choices.

  2. Tabatha said,

    September 24, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Wow, Salina…
    Let me just say first, I love the way you write and I can tell I am really going to enjoy your blog.

    Indeed, there seems to be a conspiracy to be super encouraging and mild to prospective parents. I guess it is to prevent those preganancy meltdowns. You know the ones I mean…

    Anyways, my favorite ways of preventing that long fall were Dove Dark Chocolate. Secret stash. Tell no one.
    Accept that offer to watch the baby, even if it’s only an hour. She’s probably a mom who knows.
    Take a walk, slowly if you’re still healing.
    It is not child abuse to walk away from a crying baby at 2 am, once their needs have been met, as much as it hurts you.
    Have a glass of wine or your favorite “naughty” beverage, soda, whatever. Just one, but savor it.
    *hugs* Love you guys!

    • ladylullabuy said,

      September 25, 2010 at 12:16 pm

      Tabatha, I will tell no one of your chocolate stash. And a friend mine swears her “prenatal tonic” kept her sane…. 4oz of her favorite “naughty beverage” after a long day. I started doing that when I was 7 months pregnant and I sort of haven’t stopped. Is that bad? I’m happy to get to share these thoughts with you. Love to you!

  3. Beth-Anne said,

    September 24, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    Three weeks ago I gave birth to our third son. I was remarking to my husband that I feel better this time around. By better, I don’t really know what I mean. It’s more of a feeling. After my first baby, almost 4 years ago, I felt as though I was a complete failure. Like you, I am a do-er. I have always strived for perfection so when the days, weeks, months following Jack’s birth had me feeling like a loser, I didn’t know what to do. I surrounded myself with an amazing group of supporters. I stopped reading parenting magazines (which seemed to rub my nose in all of my short-comings) and started enjoying my baby. My husband and I made up our own set of rules. I stopped breastfeeding and pumping (and this was a HUGE pill for me to swallow) because I wasn’t happy. It took my mom telling me that my baby needed a happy mommy more than anything else. At that moment I realized that I was approaching motherhood like I had my academics or athletics – if I worked hard enough I would earn the gold star. But the gold stars in motherhood are not handed out by anyone but your child(ren).

    I started exercising more, and spending time for myself (scheduled). I re-vamped my expectations for what could be accomplished in a day. I started with three things (some of them as mundane as showering) and built my days up.

    I have three boys now (3.5, 2.5 and 3 weeks) and I have to say that there are times when I still feel like a floundering fish but others when I feel like I have got it all together. No one told me how hard this parenting thing would be but trust me, you are a great mother. I don’t even know you but I know that.

    http://4mothers1blog.wordpress.com

    • ladylullabuy said,

      September 26, 2010 at 3:45 am

      Beth-Anne, I swallowed the same pill with my first born and for the same reasons. I was miserable and looking back, I literally cannot remember the first 6 weeks of Salem’s life because I was such a perfectionist in my approach to motherhood. This is my one regret. I told myself this time around with my daughter Amelia, I would relax and enjoy. It has been a different experience entirely! Thank you for your encouraging comment.

  4. jen scott said,

    October 5, 2010 at 4:15 am

    Love this blog Salina!! So real and funny! I had to chime in on this , because you would be quite happy to know that Ryan and I have become the bearer of bad news to new parents! We warn them of how horrible it can be..I try to say it’s not all roses…I warned Sahily..but sadly , they do not and will not understand until it is upon them. Hey, we figure someone still has to tell the truth and try!

    My babies are not so babies anymore. I am quite happy with that , but at the same time long to hold that bundle and kiss their sweet faces, because it’s true…that phase is only a minute in time, then you regain your sanity and realize 13 years have gone by and your baby is young man , who stands taller than you and can wear his fathers shoes.

    Excellent work Salina..keep it up!

    • ladylullabuy said,

      October 5, 2010 at 10:22 am

      WHERE WERE YOU WHEN I NEEDED TO HEAR THAT??!?!?! HA! No…. I’m glad you did chime in because I love your perspective on this. Just when it seems that I am getting used to a new phase with Salem, it is over and he’s on to a new one. I’m trying to be more conscious about enjoying them because the train is moving so fast! Jen, thanks for sending some love and some more experienced mommy perspective.


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