Everyone talks about how pregnant women have these massive mood swings, but I'm finding the rollercoaster to be much more intense (not to mention terrifying!) on the other side of labor and delivery. I'm not talking about your basic postpartum hormone craziness- that's bad enough- but on top of that there are the every day worries, fears, triumphs and occasional successes that have you feeling like a hero one minute and a zero (or below) the next.
Last week was a perfect example. My 3-week-old baby girl has only been sleeping about an hour at a time overnight, leaving me feeling like a grumpy, groggy, one-woman dairy farm. In other words, a zero. Aside from her ravenous appetite (earning her the nickname Little Miss Eats-a-Lot), if she's not swaddled tighter than a mummy, Houdini Baby will wriggle her tiny arms out, start flailing like a crazy person, and wake herself up. Now I'm not always the world's greatest swaddler, but a few nights ago all the stars aligned and she delivered not one but TWO blissful slumber blocks of two and a half hours each. While I probably slept just two of those, I still woke up feeling like I could conquer the world, or at least make it out of bed without passing out. "I am good, really good!" I thought proudly, ignoring the fact that I played very little role in the whole sleep production. Hero!
Still patting myself on the back, I got 2-year-old Noah up, dressed, and downstairs in record time. Where's my cape? Clearly I am a Super Hero! I sat my heroic self down on the couch to nurse The Hungry One yet again, with Noah content to sit by the fireplace, watch a little bit of Elmo, and drink his sippy cup of milk. Yes, I truly am getting the hang of this parenting two kids thing, I thought. That was right before Noah grabbed the fireplace screen which sent it crashing down on top of his little head. Screams all around! Noah is now lying on the floor under the screen, Cecilia is shrieking loudly due to Breakfast Interruptus, and if I had time to listen I would have surely heard my own cries were the loudest of all. Thankfully, Noah received only a big scare- no injuries whatsoever. But I am now officially the Worst Mom in the World. A Zero. Could someone please do the honor of branding the scarlet "Z" on my chest? All day I replayed the scene in my head. The crash! The cries! How could I not have secured that screen to the wall? What if it had landed just 1 inch higher and those scalloped edges had skewered my sweet baby boy's eyes? This is Babyproofing 101, and clearly I had FAILED. What other dangers lurked in this House of Horrors? Hands still shaking, I drove Noah to his daycare, convinced I was unable to provide for his safety myself.
We managed to survive the rest of the day unscathed (physically, anyway) and over the course of a few days the scene began to fade from my memory. Right around that time, Noah came home with a tiny cut on his foot. Since boys will be boys, he had taken a little fall on the playground which produced a tiny boo-boo.. and a huge need to show it off. As I got him into his jammies after bath time he wouldn't stop crying over that microscopic cut (despite the obligatory gigantic bandaid that had been applied). I looked over at his dump truck pajamas and had a rare stroke of genius. "Noah- look at these jammies! If you put these on, the trucks will drive your boo-boo away while you sleep!" His wide-eyed expression and eagerness to jump into those PJs was all I needed to reclaim the title: welcome back, Hero.
So back and forth it goes all day long, every day. Not just an uphill battle, but an up and down hike through the many emotions and pitfalls on the parent trail. I'm starting to realize the labels we give ourself are just unnecessary baggage. I need to stay confident in the fact I'm doing the best I can, and drop the things that don't make the journey any easier, or any better. No cape, no super hero, and no scarlet letter here. Just one tired mom hoping to tuck everyone, including herself, safely into bed each and every night.