Emma Ferneyhough Colner

Seven Months

When the new year started I made a couple resolutions. I only remember one of them now, and it was to write with some sort of regularity. You see, as a new mom I feel like I lost myself and I need to figure out how to find me again.

A lot of days pass where, after the baby is napping or down for the night, and all the necessary cleaning and chores are done, I just sit in one spot and have no fucking idea what to do with myself. Do I read a book? Watch a show? Get some exercise? Call a friend? Spend quality time with my husband? I sincerely have no desire to do any of those things. All I know how to do is take care of the baby, and when that’s done I’m kind of done too. Is this postpartum depression or is it just adjusting to a new me? I know for a fact I use to have hobbies and could occupy myself for hours on various projects, but now, now I feel like I am one-dimensional. I’m sad about it, in a way, because I feel totally uninteresting and I used to think I was at least a somewhat interesting and interested person.

And so, I started writing again in a little black moleskine journal that I started writing in during 2010. Just little status updates, really, at the end of most days of the week. The idea is that I’ll eventually be reminded of who I used to be. It’s been about a month now, and I’m not sure I’m any closer to figuring that out. Maybe I’m realizing that the old me is gone, and I have to decide who I want to be next.

Today, Miles, my one and only, is 7 months old. He’s an amazing, cuddly, smiley, fun little boy. I love him more than I’ve loved anything. I’ve caught myself thinking and even saying that if he dies before me, I’ll kill myself. This level of obsession is bonkers. It reminds me of when you first fall in love with someone. You’d do anything to spend more time with them. I guess I’ve been falling in love with my son these 7 months.

So about Miles. He’s been coughing and somewhat sick for the past month, but that doesn’t stop him from being a happy baby. His first two teeth are starting to come in on the bottom. He can almost sit up by himself, and he’s on the verge of rolling over. He’s great at tummy time and giving his dad high fives. And, to top it all off, he sleeps 10 hours (7pm to 5am) a good proportion of nights now after a few weeks of sleep training. Illness has set him back a little but I’m confident his sleep is going to get gradually better over time.

I’ve gotta tell ya, after my first night of 4 hours of sleep in a row (x2 with a feeding in between), I felt like a million bucks. You quickly acclimate, but I felt awake for the first time since he was born. And speaking of awake, Miles is getting more and more awake. He’s noticing small things, and he’s really interested in everything going on around him. He’s learning. His brain is one of the most powerful learning machines on this planet. I’m in awe of his ability to change daily. I love watching him grow and am constantly astounded. But some days I miss the old Miles. The little itty bitty Miles who I’ll never see again. I know in a few weeks I’ll miss the 7 month old Miles too. I feel like I’m always saying goodbye and hello to my baby boy.

Motherhood is tough. It’s about never being enough for anybody. And feeling guilty about it. I want to do more at work, but I can’t because my boy needs me. I want to do everything and be everything for my boy, but I can’t because I have to work to earn money to buy the things this family needs. I want to be a better wife, but I can’t because of work and the boy. There’s only so much of me, and so much more of everything else.

Motherhood is about contradictions and cognitive dissonance.

The rest of this post is copied from an entry I made 1 month ago in my paper journal.

So the contradictions of motherhood. They can be boiled down to:

  • Desperately wanting time to myself, yet never wanting to leave my baby alone.
  • Desperately needing help, yet always butting in and taking over when help is given.
  • Desperately wanting Bob to be an equal parent, yet not fully trusting him to do things his way.
  • Believing that breastfeeding is a prison, but dreading never breastfeeding my baby again.
  • Constantly feeling like I’m not doing enough while simultanesouly holding the world on my shoulders.
  • Wanting advice and support from other moms, but feeling sensitive about the choices I’ve made on how to care for my baby.

If I were to explain motherhood to another engineer, maybe it would be like this -

Imagine you have your perfect set-up on your laptop. All your apps and keyboard shortcuts and development environment. (New) motherhood is like the disorientation you feel when using someone else’s computer. Except you haven’t slept in days and it’s going to die if you don’t do things right and it’s screaming at you. Ok, that’s not a very good analogy.

Motherhood is totally losing track of the self. Your self has been pulled out and now exists in another physically compromised human being. It takes a long time to feel like you have your self back. At 6 months postpartum, and finally getting some sleep, it’s just starting to come back. I found the energy and gratitude to finish writing my thank you cards from the baby shower. I cook again. I’m writing in this journal again. I may have the courage to make plans with friends without the baby. I am less afraid of having Bob parent Miles. I’m putting less pressure on myself in regards to breastfeeding by the very fact that we made it to 6 months.

I passed a milestone. Get it?