So I’ve had a few people tell me for the past 2 years that I should write down things about my daughter when they happen because the time goes by so fast and I won’t remember it. Boy, were they right. So I thought I would incorporate that into a blog type post. So here goes.
To get everyone up to speed this is how and why I’m a single mother. I was in a relationship and it just didn’t work out. We tried giving it another shot a few months later and decided that we just weren’t meant to be. However a short time after our second spilt it turns out we had a little “souvenir”. Due to the circumstances we decided to stay separated and I was single the entire pregnancy. Needless to say being single and pregnant was hard, but not as hard as being single with a newborn. Most people that looked at my overwhelming large belly and then at my finger or the fact that I probably had my sister or parents in tow, I would just smile or growl at them depending on the hormones. Either way I got the same reaction which didn’t bother me either way. I’ve never actually been embarrassed to be a single mother until recently, which we’ll get into later.
So fast forward to one of first days of me and my daughter’s life when Harper was born; February 11, 2009 at 8:38am. I remember little details about the actual birth due to a little miracle drug called morphine I’m pretty glad there were tons of pictures taken that day because most of it is a little blurry.
There are a lot of things people don’t tell you when you have a baby (applies to all mommies).
It is normal not to fall in love with your baby at first sight. I can honestly say. Harper looked like a wrinkly old man when she was less than a day old. After she started to “air out” a little she was amazing and this perfect little cabbage patch baby you see in movies. So from experience and working in a nursery at a hospital that births the most babies in Middle Tennessee I’ll be the first to say, some of them are not the cutest. But what makes it special and miraculous is that you and one other person created this being. This living, breathing, screaming, being that has a heartbeat and eyes and fingers and toes. That poops and pees and lives for your every move. However, I didn’t realize this until about day 3 after she was born.
For the first couple of months, I was up every 3 -4 hours with feedings. There were times when I felt like throwing in towel. The following, being my very first memory of single mommyhood; My third day home, Harper was 5 or 6 days old. At this point I was overwhelmed with all the visitors we had from our 3 night stay in the hospital so I only got to sleep at night when everyone went home. But I was so hesitant to let Harper stay in the hospital nursery because I was afraid she would get neglected (I learned my lesson on this one as well). I enjoyed all the visits and I was ecstatic of all the support I had as well. But at night, Harper was wide awake! So I stayed up with her until I literally couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore. Every night at about 3 am I would take her to the nursery along with the 43 other babies in there at that time too. Each night walking back to my room with tears of exhaustion, only to have the nurse bring her to me 2 hours later ready for her to eat. So consider roughly 2-3 hours of sleep for the first 3 days.
When I got home I realized as I was taking her out of the car seat, there were no nurses. There was no nursery. I didn’t want to rely completely on my parents so it was just me this little creature relied on. I wasn’t producing enough milk to pump at the time for a full feeding so I was just this scheduled milking cow. At least that is what it felt like. Day 1 at home. I was so afraid of all the things I read about SIDS and how kids stop breathing in their sleep. And anytime she would move in the night I would wake up walk over to the bassinet and make sure she was ok. So I accumulated about 1 hour of sleep for the first 2 nights. At the point of the 3rd day, I had reached a limit of auto pilot. I was absolutely exhausted. I wasn’t hungry, I wasn’t producing milk. I was functioning. I could move off the couch. I could barely hold the baby, or feed myself. And just at that moment. Harper started to fall asleep. And I slept. She was asleep and I don’t even remembering how we got in my room but she was swaddled and I believe when I woke up I still had my robe and house slippers on under the comforter. Either way, it was 1.5 hours later and Harper woke up hungry.
I feed her and it was 3am. She unfortunately did not want to go back to sleep. I began to cry. Not sniffle sniffle, But snot and tears, hyperventilating on the living room floor. I had failed as a mother. My precious perfect baby wants to stay up and check out the house and coo and caa, and all I want to do is sleep. My body was in the process of shutting down I felt completely selfish and compromised. Just then, what looked like an angel swooped down by a bright light appeared. It was actually my mom in the hallway and turned the hallway light on. I remember trying to get out words to tell her that I couldn’t do it, that I wasn’t cut out to be a mom. But I’m sure it sounded a lot like “MOM, I….. CAN’T…..” and then something that was probably sounded like a Cling-on in distress. Just like the graceful woman that she is, she helped me off the floor and escorted me to my bed and told me, “Baby, I’ve got this. I’m here to help you. You can’t do this by yourself all the time.” Or something to that nature. She could’ve recited the Declaration of Independence after that who knows. Either way, I realized I had to let go and take care of myself.
I slept for 6 blissful hours. My mother stayed up all night with Harper and I slept. I had come to the realization. I’m not super mom. I don’t have super mommy strength. I need help just like everyone else. That was probably the first real moment as a single mother I had.