Month Two: A Good Enough Mom

Since the beginning of our journey, our doula has told us, “Instead of worrying about perfection, be happy with good enough.” At first I did not know what she meant. I had never questioned my ability to be a mom, I figured I’d be good at it because I pour every ounce of myself into everything I care about. Ha. I should have remembered the learning curve in becoming a teacher, hard work does not always translate into greatness…

The first twinges of inadequacy crept in at the hospital, first with nursing that did not seem to work, then with the screaming in the middle of the night, and finally with the news we might have to go down to the neonatal unit, where I would be unable to sleep beside my new baby, in order to treat her jaundice. It turned out we got to go home, but when the tests came back again and we had to return to the hospital because her bilirubin levels were still rising, I fell apart.

I sobbed in the arms of my mother and all the way back to the hospital. The poor intake dude must have worried about me, such a mess over something so minor in the grand scheme of problems worthy of the pediatric unit, but I felt like I was letting my three-day old baby down by not being able to hold her through the night as she bathed in neon blue light, like we were missing a critical moment in our bonding. Thankfully, the pediatric ward is different from the neonatal unit, I was allowed to sleep in the same room, even if my inability to pick her up and soothe her felt traumatizing in my three-day postpartum, hormonal haze.

Minus the near-daily heel pricks and cruel joke of a cold the first week brought, the rest of the month passed without too much self-analysis as I recovered from birth and absorbed the sweetness of my new baby. However, month two has been a different story. Colic. If you don’t know what it is, count yourself lucky. Colic sucks. Screaming, sometimes uncontrollable, almost every evening for hours at a time. I joke as the sun sets that the vampire baby is waiting to emerge. Forget the Happiest Baby on the Block. Baby carriers like the moby and our rocking chair are our only solace, as long as we have the energy to keep moving.

Couple this with sleep deprivation and yet another stupid cold and I often feel like maybe I am doing something wrong. Last month I reported that the sleep deprivation was manageable. After eight weeks, I have changed my mind. It is survivable, but manageable makes it sound easier than it is. If it weren’t for my mother-in-law, who comes and rocks the baby sometimes for a couple hours during the afternoon, or my husband, who stays up until three in the morning rocking her in his chair, I would never get a chance to catch up. It turns out the advice of sleep when the baby sleeps only works if your baby sleeps! Accordingly, I have written this blog entry in 15 minute chunks and foregone the opportunity to do any chores to make this post happen.

She is worth it though, all of it. Her smiles, her little laugh, her intent focus on the world around her, make all the other bits disappear. She has made me the happiest I have ever been. But even with the happiness, being a mom is hard. All the worry and challenges can feel isolating. In the last few days I have let it out and found myself supported with words and hugs from the women in my life. I have realized that while concepts like attachment parenting are beautiful in writing, sometimes in our culture of mom at home by herself instead of surrounded by other baby holders, you have to put her down to survive.

So, find a mom out there and give her a gigantic hug. God knows she deserves it. And, if you are a mom, let yourself find peace in being good enough. Chances are, there is another mom nearby who totally gets it, and if there isn’t, well, I do.

What new motherhood actually looks like. Please note, I resisted the urge to make this picture more attractive in Photoshop.

What new motherhood actually looks like. Please note, I resisted the urge to make this picture more attractive in Photoshop.

The face that makes me question myself.

What our evenings often look like…

And, the moment of peace that follows and makes it all better!

And, the face that makes it all better!

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10 thoughts on “Month Two: A Good Enough Mom

  1. Aw! What a darling.

  2. Tanya says:

    Wow, that last picture is entrancing—such a beauty! I’m sorry it’s been so rough with the sleeplessness and colic 😦 agh! But I’m grateful to hear about this journey through your words. Hoping more naps come into your life in the very near future <3.

  3. kingmidget says:

    “She is worth it though, all of it.” And that is why there is nothing that compares to what you feel with your firstborn. This is the moment when you realize just how much you’re willing to go through for that little being you helped to create and bring into this world. As I’ve said, there is no unconditional love except what you feel for your little one. That is the beauty of the whole thing.

    I was going to say that you should do everything you can to minimize your self-analysis, but the reality is that it is that trait that will help make you a better parent. Don’t self-analyze yourself until you’re curled into a ball in the corner. But, do it at a level that ensures you will never stop thinking of how you can be a better parent.

    Here’s a hug for you. You’re right, moms everywhere deserve them. And, next month, dads do too. 😉

    Happy First Mother’s Day!!

    • olivia says:

      Yes, I now know what true unconditional love feels like. In some ways, I think we return that unconditional love to our parents, just not with the same intense awareness… And, I agree, some self-analysis is productive, I’m just looking for the balance, (ha!). It’s easy to beat ourselves up. And, of course, dads deserve their kudos too!

  4. Cathy Mackey says:

    You are doing everything right lol Don’t grade yourself my beautiful daughter n law. We just need to get you more sleep an that will come with time. I love you an as you know.. always here for support in any manner you should need.

  5. Ok, we need to get together. You need to hear from someone that it truly does suck at times and that it gets better. So much better that I’ve done it four times now. Expect me to start harassing you till I see that tiny beauty.

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