This fall I gave birth to baby boy number 2. I had a mostly uneventful labor without drugs and welcomed a healthy 9 lb 22 inch boy. My heart, home, and life is now full of love. Time for myself is nil.
They say when you have your second kid things don’t just get two times harder, they are exponentially harder. They weren’t lying. My husband and I thought we had this down, having mastered raising one son to toddlerhood. Well, I feel like we are drowning.
There are zero breaks. There’s just switching back and forth between toddler and baby’s needs and sometimes taking care of both kids needs at the same time.
There’s zero alone time. I sleep with my newborn, shower with my toddler, and even going to the bathroom involves at least one kid. I rarely have a free hand to feed myself and all of my outings and lunches, I am wearing or carrying my baby.
Obviously, I didn’t have to have a second kid and I know I am very blessed to be able to have children. I cherish every smile, coo, kiss good night, and snuggle with my kiddos. I wanted them both and I am very grateful I was blessed with the fertility and means to have the family I wanted.
We should also be allowed to vent though. Moms are expected to only post happy things and say how grateful we are for our motherhood. That’s unrealistic though. I am tired! Let me say it louder for the people in the back, in case you didn’t hear me, I AM TIRED!
I am grateful and I am cherishing every moment like every goddamn parent with grown up kids has told me to, but goddamn if I am not also exhausted, famished, emotional AF, and trapped in a life of my own making. Trapped in a good way, but trapped to my couch nursing a toddler 24/7. Trapped wearing nursing tops that aren’t that flattering so my boobs can always be accessible instead of my beloved pre-baby clothes. Trapped under my newborn sleeping on my chest in bed, when I really need to pee in the middle of the night. Trapped in my house due to a lack of energy to leave with a screaming newborn. Trapped in a life of servitude to hungry demanding little boys.
Moms are expected to always be available. Even when it is my time to sleep, I stay half awake in order to anticipate my babies nursing needs. Even when I am sick, I have to be available to entertain my toddler who only wants mommy. Even when it is my night to go out with friends, I have to wear my baby to the party, because I haven’t had any time to pump milk for bottles. Moms must always be available.
I was talking to a friend and a doula recently about how our culture sets new moms up to fail. We talked about how most other non-western cultures know it takes a village to raise children. In Asian, Latin American, and African cultures homes are multigenerational. Grandparents are there to help raise their grandkids. In our society, couples are expected to do it all on their own. We even cringe at the thought of spending too much time with in-laws or godforbid one of the couples sets of parents live with them.
This is not only on the grandparents, but on the kids that everyone wants to live a part and shoulder the burden of child rearing on an island. It really does take a village though. Women need that village. Children need that village. We have to support moms in this transition into motherhood, so they don’t get isolated and depressed and anxious.
I felt so alone with my first son after my mother left and my husband was back at work. I cried daily. I drove to stores and stayed in my car in the parking lot and cried alongside my son. I was depleted and alone. I was lonely and trapped by my own circumstances.
This time around, my parents have moved here to support me. My husband works from home. There isn’t a pandemic going on to trap me in my home. I joined a mommy baby group to meet other moms going through similar things and to vent and support one another. I have a lot more help, but still a lot of the days I am trapped on my couch with a sleeping baby on my chest, needing to pee for hours and starving for food only steps away. I don’t even know how to ask for the help that is now all around me. I am conditioned by society to feel ashamed that I need help.
How can we work as a society to change this for mothers? Teach them help is necessary and you are not a failure if you ask for it. Also, can everyone stop looking at a tired depleted mom and telling her she is a super mom and has it under control. Can parents with older children stop telling them to cherish these moments, because they go by too fast?!
We know you regret not cherishing the moments when you were in them and so you want to tell young moms to not make the same mistakes, but can you also acknowledge that it is impossibly hard to be a mother with all the expectations hanging over our heads these days. Instead mothers who survived the early years should be even more supportive of new moms.
Can we ban together as moms to push for less societal pressures and more villages to support each other?