“Nobody told me I would be wearing a diaper and mesh panties and I would still bleed all over my pajamas the first night home. Nobody told me my nipples would leak so much that the front of my shirt would literally be dripping with milk as I attempted to forgo a bra for just an hour. Nobody told me I’d still look five months pregnant and that I would ache for the anticipation of my baby, despite her being right there, nuzzled into my arms.”
Except they did. They all tell you this stuff. And they tell you to soak it all in and to cherish every second and not to worry about anything but your baby because the time goes by “so fast” and before you know it, “they’re driving a car, graduating high school, moving into their college dorm.” So you panic and you feel your chest tightening and it reminds you of your wedding day, how everyone told you to take a deep breath and “soak it all in” and in between the pictures and the champagne toasts and the first dances, you forgot. You forgot the most important thing — THE MOST IMPORTANT THING, everyone told you, IS TO REALLY CHERISH THE DAY — and you’ll forget again when you’re two days postpartum, no matter how much you try to remember. You’ll forget to really “soak it all in,” but you won’t forget that it all goes by “so fast.”
That fear — that stress that you’ll forget everything you’ve been experiencing since your baby was placed in your arms — won’t motivate you to remember anymore than telling yourself HEY WE’RE SUPPOSED TO BE CHERISHING THIS will. And, not-so-lucky for you, nobody else seems to give a damn about this advice they spewed to you when you were heavily pregnant and pushing aside tissue paper at the baby shower and going to doctor’s appointments. Because when it’s time for you to cherish the day, when it’s time for you to soak it all in, you’ll be hit with a list of to-dos: sleep when the baby sleeps, make sure to get plenty of rest, eat some healthy meals, have people over to visit your baby, keep a steady supply of clean sleepers coming, for God’s sake, woman, make time for SELF-CARE. (You know that word. Much like “cherish every moment,” self-care is a term that does nothing but make you feel guilty for A) not having time for self-care, B) panicked that you’re not doing enough to make sure you get self-care, and C) jealous because yo — self-care sounds really great.)
But how can you rest when the baby looks so angelic and isn’t screaming for your breast? Isn’t this one of those snapshots you should be mentally taking for when you’re 45 and desperate for just one second of that day back? How can you keep up with the laundry when your baby just wants to be held and all of the Facebook posts are reminding you that your baby wants you to slow down and your baby just needs you, mama, nobody else and your baby will never be this little again, so why the hell are you thinking about clean underpants? How can you soak in the tub and let your husband hold the baby when one day your kid’s going to ask you what it was like when they were a baby and Jesus Christ, now you won’t have that memory of you and your husband snuggled up, smiling at your baby, counting her toes, whispering to each other how happy you are to share?
Don’t be fooled — people will offer to help you. They’ll tell you, “Just call me and I can come over and do whatever you need.” But sometimes that means they come over and want to hold your baby and take a million pictures of them with your baby — them, looking well rested and happy with a coordinated outfit not covered in spit-up on and their hair brushed — so they can post it to social media. And sometimes they come over and say, “I can stay here with the baby while you go grocery shopping,” but fuck — you’re supposed to be soaking up all of these moments and you can’t do that in the organic cereal aisle of Sprouts while someone else has all those precious, unforgettable (except you will forget) moments with your baby. (And fuck, maybe you just want to snuggle your own baby and someone else can fill the pantry.) Sometimes they come over and talk about how beautiful the baby is and they ask how she sleeps and how she eats and if she’s fussy and they literally hold her for hours, marveling at her, but they never ask you if you’re feeling okay or if you’d like them to take a picture of you with your baby or say the things you thought they’d say like, “Oh she looks just like you” or “I’m so proud of you” or “I just wanted to come watch you hold her if that’s okay.”
You were prepped for the bleeding and the leaking and the mesh panties. This is the stuff nobody ever tells you. And honestly, it’s because they probably forgot.