I Used To Be Me (part 7)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I met Stefanie Wood when our kids were in a baby movement/yoga-ish class called GoGo Babies last year. There was signing and stretching and clapping and, of course, tummy time. It was good fun for the wee ones. Stefanie’s daughter Chloe was born a day after QB, so we always felt a little connected through the near-shared birthdays. Stefanie’s wry sense of humor was another draw. It often made me say, “I like this chick.” She reminds me of the funny best buddy in sitcoms. (Talking good sitcoms. She’s like Seinfeld‘s Elaine … only nice and with a baby.)

Photo by Nicole Blades

Life before baby …
I don’t even remember. There was just no schedule. I worked a lot and then my time was my time. I lived in the East Village for 16 years. I had friends who lived within a three-block radius of me, so I went out to eat every night. I never cooked. I went to concerts and always had something to do. I had my dog—who I still have—and we would go out for walks, hang out at parks and just did whatever I wanted.

I didn’t really have a burning desire to have a child …
I remember thinking, maybe I can adopt a 7-year-old and just skip that whole baby thing. I’m the youngest of four in my family, so I didn’t have any experience with children or babies. I didn’t even babysit. Then I had a niece and a nephew (they are older now—15 and 20). But I was still not feeling the pull to have a baby. It was a little intimidating, and that fear made me convince myself I didn’t need a baby in my life.

I didn’t have interest in other people’s children either. If there was a dog and baby, I would look at the dog. The baby was practically invisible. That has all changed now … but I still look at the dog!

Then came Chloe …
I’m not a very Type-A person. I don’t need to have everything scheduled. So having a baby was kind of … shell shock. Like any woman, I went from having this completely different life overnight. Here I was isolated—none of my friends at the time at children. I felt like I had no support. My family doesn’t live close by. It was really hard. And you don’t feel like you know what your life is about. That transitional period is strange, kind of like a fog.

You lose your life as you know it and suddenly you’re faced with this learning curve that’s like Mount Everest. It’s not like you don’t know how to do one thing. You don’t know any of it! Add to it that you’re not sleeping. Oh, and the breastfeeding? I almost quit so many times. I just wasn’t a dairy queen. There were these problems with my supply, and I was so stressed about whether Chloe was getting enough milk. You know the “I’m starving my baby!‘ syndrome. I was ready to spend hundreds of dollars on one of those special scales. But I a lactation consultant came over a few times. She saved my life!

I stayed out from work for 10 months. And despite the insanity of  Newborn Land, I was just so happy to not be working in advertising. It was like, This is awesome! I didn’t even care that I wasn’t getting any sleep, as long as I didn’t have to go to that place.

The most challenging part about motherhood …
Breastfeeding was really hard in the beginning. I’m so happy I had some sticktoitivness. It’s been one of my greatest achievements. The other challenging aspect is losing the life that you had—and all of the freedom that goes with it.

Those first two, three months … just adjusting to this brand new life that is the polar opposite to what you had before, it’s pretty tough. But now? I wouldn’t change anything for what I have now. She’s just such a good baby.

Best piece of advice I ever heard …
The only book I read from start to finish before I gave birth was The Happiest Baby on the Block. It helped us calm the baby and understand what to do. It gave you some context. The swaddling advice is vital. Best thing that ever happened to us. I’m like the swaddling master now. Friends who’ve had babies, the first thing I tell them is, “You have to swaddle!” Read the book. It will make it make sense.

But in terms of advice from someone, I would say it’s what my cousin told me: You need to get out. Even if it’s just 10 minutes and you go around the corner to the deli to get some milk, make sure you get out. You need that time to clear your head.

What I would tell someone else is, being a mother is a really hard job. You have to cut yourself some slack. It’s easy to compare yourself to other moms—especially in the beginning—but try to resist that. Look at it more like what you can learn from that other woman. Just passing the best parts of motherhood along to each other.

If we could jump into a DeLorean and race back in time …
My birth was not an easy one. It ended up being an emergency C-section. I wish I could have enjoyed the moment of giving birth to my child. I was so flustered and recovering and scared that I didn’t know how to fully absorb the beauty of it. I wish I could go back to that special moment and feel that joy and intensity. Just total appreciation.

Comments are closed.