For the past ten weeks, we have had a steady stream of visitors. If someone isn’t visiting us, we are packing up the diaper bag and hauling ourselves to another house. I long for the weekend that is just for the three of us.
When I reflect on that first weekend after Parker was born, I realize I may not have fully recovered from it, and maybe I have a bit of a bad taste in my mouth still. It had been a terrible week of breastfeeding, well, lack of it really. I’d been on the phone with the lactation specialist for what seemed like hours. I’d scoured over my breastfeeding books and websites suggested by the hospital. We’d seen the pediatrician a few times, and it was decided we would supplement with formula. I felt like an absolute failure, both as a woman and a mother. To make it worse, I had finally resolved to do it because I knew it was best for both me and my baby. Throughout my entire pregnancy, I was adamant that breastfeeding wasn’t important to me. But I changed my tune just before he came, and so it broke my heart when we struggled with it. I’ve never cried so much, both in pain and frustration. I didn’t sleep. I mean, I actually did not sleep for more than an hour or two in a twenty-four hour period. My husband did all he could, but he was pretty much powerless in this department. Hearing our son scream for hours because he was hungry was the worst thing that has ever happened to me in my entire life.
The day that we finally decided to give Parker the formula also happened to be the day some of our family decided to visit. In many ways I was not prepared to have people in my home just days after coming home from the hospital. I should have been a Big Girl, put my foot down and said “no.” To make matters worse, I had never used – or even unpacked – our bottles, sanitizer, or bottle warmer. I’d never mixed a bottle, and I needed to figure out what my own system would be. I couldn’t remember where I stored the burp clothes and bibs. I had somehow lost the directions for the fancy bottle warmer. I didn’t know whether or not to boil water to mix the formula. I felt like I was under a microscope and that all of the people sitting in my dining room were waiting to see my next move. As a very independent woman, I would rather die than ask for help. I even had to feed my baby for the very first time in front of a group of people. I felt uncomfortable and powerless. If I said something, I was unappreciative of their visit. If I didn’t say something, I wasn’t being true to myself. Of course I’m not stupid enough to think that these people were actually judging me. They would have helped me in any way I asked in a split second, but try to remember that my hormones were out of whack, I was still in serious pain, and I had yet to really connect with my child. All I wanted to do was lock myself in the nursery and figure this whole mother-child relationship out.
In the end, I survived our first visit, but I can’t help but think that I lost some precious time. Maybe that makes me a terrible person. Maybe it’s normal. I’m not really sure. We try to balance our the visitors. We keep it to one or two a day, but it still takes up every Saturday and Sunday. I guess I selfishly want to have a weekend where the three of us just don’t do anything important at all. There will be no appointments or trips to the store. I will be able to cook a real dinner that I have not pre-frozen and we might even go out for ice cream after we take a long stroll with our two dogs. I certainly understand the importance of Parker seeing his grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends. It just becomes a very busy balancing act. Because my own parents are divorced, we already juggle our time between those two families. Adding my husband’s family is yet another layer. I feel bad for my husband too. He has to give up his limited one-on-one time since he works all week.
So I long for the weekend when everyone forgets that we exist.
When I go back to work, I know that these moments will be more important to me than ever. I know I will have more babies, but I will never do any of this again with just one child. I try to be conscious of taking it all in and soaking up all of the experiences that I have on a daily basis. I already miss the tiny baby that was handed to me in the delivery room, and it’s only been two months. I can’t imagine how I will feel when he graduates from high school.
I’m also pretty sure that he won’t want to hang out with me on the weekends by then.