I know that every new parent must at some point address the pendulum swing of "self" that occurs when the baby arrives. Who is the new "me"? There are new priorities, new challenges, new lessons. And of course, there's the child! Which doesn't leave room for much else.
For me, the soul searching started during the first couple of weeks. Frankly, I was a bit of a mess emotionally and truly thought that the old me was gone forever. I would look at old photos from the honeymoon and start sobbing uncontrollably. Colin was there for me; he was my rock (as much as he could be).
He had a lot of the same fears. I remember him saying to me one night when we tried to sit down for dinner together at the table only to be interrupted by cries from the floor where we had lay down our babe seconds prior, "we're not going to have normal meals together anymore like we used to, are we?"
"Yes, we will," I said. But even I didn't know for sure.
Things got easier though. Baby started sleeping on her own. Now I know: of course we will have normal meals together! And it will be even better when she can join us for dinner.
The pendulum started swinging the other way. Things were good, my confidence was growing.
And then I went back to work. Swoosh.
After the first week, I wondered, "How on earth do people do this? Who is this new me? Will I ever cook a meal again? Is this worth it?" So many questions. So much doubt.
In retrospect, it's funny how much of my anxiety revolved around cooking and the family meal. I think I underestimated how much those two things factor in to my sense of self.
The pendulum has been tick-tocking back and forth ever since. Just as soon as I get a little comfortable.... Swoosh! I find myself asking the same questions, though shaded slightly more with experience each time: "Who am I these days? What do I really want in life? Is it ok that all I want to do is spend time with my family? What about my career? Is that really what I want to be doing? Is it what I should be doing?"
Lately, the pendulum has been stuck in that place. The place of self-doubt. The in-between place. And then, yesterday, I got sick. I haven't really been sick since Amelia was born, which is kind of crazy considering the number of bugs I've been exposed to through daycare.
But here it was: I was achy all over. I had chills. I had a fever. My skin hurt. I told Colin I needed to take a nap. I slept for 4 hours. 4 hours!! That's more straight sleep than I've had in months. I woke up, ate a little, lay in bed, ate some ice cream and then went back to bed.
That was last night. This morning, I woke up a new person. Swoosh! I felt inspired, productive, playful. Amelia and I had some quiet time together while Col slept in. And then, we went into the kitchen and I started cooking. Amelia banged on the pots and pans in the corner while I prepped. I cooked dinner for tonight. I made a stew for Amelia's lunch. I made a quiche, crust and all!
At one point, Col walked into the kitchen and said, "I know that if you could do this all day, every weekend, you'd be really happy."
I replied, "yes, I'm really happy right now." This is what I want to be doing. He knows me better than I know myself. This much is for sure: I found a little piece of myself in the kitchen today and it feels good.
In other baby news:
Amelia turned 9 months last week
She is crawling
She is eating lots of different foods (though she may be allergic to eggs, which is very sad and means she can't try my amazing aforementioned quiche)
Her favorite foods are: roasted sweet potato, quinoa with curry & zucchini, peas with basil, pears, peaches, fresh date puree, eggs with scallions (until she broke out in hives)
She does not love: polenta, baby cereal
Still no teeth, but lots of energy and excitement
She loves music, she danced with me to Etta James today
She still sleeps in bed with us for the second half of the night
She still nurses at least twice a night and I'm fine with that