Hello, space mommas, space daddies, space cadets. How is everyone holding up? Well, for me, I am six months in to being a mom, and I’m pretty much a human puddle of dribble, spit, and formula. Some days I wash my face, and it’s one I don’t recognize. Less hair. Less hormones. Less moisturizer. Less sleep. This new life is one that is usually covered in something squishy or foamy paired with so many new smells. The good. The bad. The milk-based science experiments. We can talk for days about that fresh baby forehead smell though. It’s something like cocaine. Never tried the real thing, but I BET it is just as addicting. Lather that sugar biscuit up with a layer of Johnson and Johnson’s from that pink or purple bottle, and I’m all done. I’m in love.
Now that I’m officially on “the other side” of pregnancy, and the fetus is now in the baby stage, there are a few things I wish I could have worked out before working them out on my body. I would really have loved to be able to tell my fresh momma self not to freak out about the breastfeeding. The pumping every two hours sucked out a few ounces of that liquid gold (Did you know that some people sell that stuff on Facebook for $4 an ounce!), but it also sucked out every ounce of my energy. I remember getting so many encouraging texts and emails during that phase, mostly cheerleaders saying, “Keep Going, Momma!”- which was so lovely and kind. What I cherished equally were those messages that said, “Hey, your baby will be just fine with formula.” I lasted a few months. She was. She had a red ass for a few days as a friend said she might, and then she was off the boob milk.
Honestly, it was like a horror movie with an unimpressive ending, aside from the new appearance of my two little IBT’s (Itty Bitty Titties). I’m now SO far removed from the Double D’s I had come to know and love. Bless. Their. Hearts. These sweet new sags are having an identity crisis. Some mornings they wake up and want to resemble fresh fruit – pears, lemons, apricots, and then some days, they wake up with IHOP on the brain: they think they are mini pancakes. What I learned from my breast pumping journey (because Penny decided latching was for wimps) is that a woman’s body is a temple that can do miraculous things, but it’s also a dumpster, a compost of sorts. All sorts of things go in (health food, fast food, vitamins, that naughty few ounces of vino, emotions, etc.), then we sit on it, uncomfortably digesting for months. We mutate all our innards -because we can- and then we spit our creation out into the universe. I personally feel like a heavenly trash compactor of sorts, but the product is a beautiful little mystery with pouty lips and thick eyelashes, a little curled in earlobe on one side, imperfectly perfect. A little squish. Our sweet Honey. Sigh. Motherhood. I get the appeal now. I see all of your babies in a new light, friends!
Let’s go back to the topic of the breast pump for one minute. I used to think that my personal hell was riding the Zipper at a mall carnival non-stop. My new personal hell would be being attached to a breast pump for eternity. And, I used to always hear about breast milk “coming in” and couldn’t wait to experience that magic. Well, it’s not magic. It’s definitely something more aligned with the dark arts. The boobs become like little tea kettles that have been boiling quietly on high, building up pressure and steam, then all of the sudden, pain – tingling – the whistle! TOOOOOOOOOOT. And the whistle doesn’t stop until you get that stuff out of your body. This is obviously just my experience. With that said, if all the breast pumping mommas of the world want to have a get together where we beat breast pumps with bats like that printer in Office Space, I will bring snacks, drinks, and two hateful breast pumps.
What I’ve learned six months in is to listen to and lean into others for encouragement, ignore the advice tinged with criticism, and spend as much time as you can enjoying these moments of compacted poops and noises and smiles and giggles. This isn’t some “AHA” moment that only I’ve had, but it’s new to me, and I felt like writing today, so I’M SHARING. Turn away if you do not enjoy boob and baby and new mom talk.
I’ve also learned that friendships now, as an adult, are so so sacred. They are worth fighting tooth and nail for, even if it is a struggle to keep on keeping on. Thank you to all my friends for patience and for showing up with a text or a book recommendation or a recipe, even if months and months go by without an actual, in-person hang (Thanks, C-word). And, happily, I can now report that I sure as heck can still relate to my non-mom friends. One of my best childhood friends came to visit a few weeks ago, and I could tell she connected much more with Max, my sweet pupper, than Penny, the sweet new pooper. And that was FINE. I understood. I didn’t care. I was just glad to see a good friend that still helps my soul and heart grow a few sizes. And when she and I went outside under the full moon and burned two tiny pieces of paper into my Home Depot fire-pit like we were fifteen again, manifesting our hopes and dreams into the cool night after a shared bottle of red wine, it felt nice. It felt like a new universe. Different, but definitely better.
Penny Rose is 6 months old today. We feel like we have lassoed a star.