Avery slept a whopping 10 hours STRAIGHT last night!!!!!
This is a first.
Now if only I had gone to bed at 7:30 PM with her last night so I could also have gotten 10 hours of sleep.
I got up to feed her just before 5:00 AM and as I watched her droopy baby eyes drift back to sleep, I thought about the last 7 months with her.
It's easy now to look back at the beginning and miss the tiny newborn Avery. The one who was so small and so sleepy all the time. The one who smacked her lips when she was hungry and grunted and snorted in her sleep. I found myself wishing I had spent more time soaking it all up those months ago. Spent more time taking pictures or writing about her so I could remember every tiny thing about her that I loved so much.
But then I remembered how stinking difficult it was during those first few months. It's a little embarrassing to admit because other moms seem to glide effortlessly into motherhood, but those first few months of being a mother, for me, were HARD. In hindsight I see now that we were in pure survival mode. We were running on no sleep, adrenaline, fear, and pure love. And it was hard.
It was more than just taking care of a baby (which, by itself, was difficult at times), it was redefining who I was. I realize now that when I was working full time, I felt needed and appreciated and when I worked hard, I was complimented or rewarded. Also, I only worked for 9 hours and then came home, able to leave my work at the office. Motherhood, on the other hand, follows you EVERYWHERE. You work hard because you love hard but there's often no compliments or very few rewards, or so it feels at times. It's more than just a job, it's everything you are.
Becoming a mom is shaping and molding me into someone different: someone better and more caring and more unselfish. But all that molding is often uncomfortable and sometimes downright painful.
I think the trick is to train myself to recognize the new rewards of being a mom. (Also, getting more than 2 hours of sleep at a time) I've felt most successful as a mom when I anticipated what Avery needed or got her to sleep without a struggle. Now that she's a little older and more expressive, her big gummy smile or seeing her reach up for me when I walk by are enough to make all the hard things faint and distant memories. And the joy of seeing her learn something new for the first time is more reward than I ever imagined.
Then when she sleeps a whole 10 hours straight without waking up even once? I feel like a champ. I want to high five everyone I meet and brag to them about how my once eating-every-two-hours-for-the-first-five-months-of-her-life baby slept through the night and went right back to sleep after downing a bottle. It probably has very little to do with me personally, but it makes me feel like I'm doing my job. And I love it.
I recently read this article from the Huffington Post titled, "Don't Carpe the Diem" posted on facebook and I think it pretty much sums it up (If you haven't read it, I suggest you do because it's awesome. Especially if you're a mom). For the first few months, when I was the most tired, the most exhausted, and the most depleted, people would beam at me with a tear in their eye as I was holding my new baby and say something like, "Don't you just LOVE EVERY MINUTE of being a mom?!?" I had a tear in my eye too, but it wasn't because I was beaming. It's because I was tired. And broken. And feeling really guilty for feeling tired and broken. I think it's nice to have someone say sometimes: "It's okay that it's hard." And maybe throw in there too: "You will enjoy it soon. Maybe not right this moment, but you will sometimes be overwhelmingly happy. And maybe not quite so tired."