Last month I had a baby, our third girl. Last week the adrenaline wore off.
Adrenaline always surges when a new baby arrives. Those initial days are filled with phone calls and visitors, extensive picture-taking and meals delivered from kind neighbors, gift bags and thank you notes. You comment on impossibly tiny diapers. You marvel at the pink (or blue) fuzz in your dryer lint trap.
Everything about bringing a child into the world suspends normal life -- the anxious drive to the hospital, the glorious moment when you first clutch your wrinkled, squirming newborn in your exhausted arms, and the day-or-two-long hospital stay that's punctuated by shifts in nursing staff rather than the natural ebb and flow of a nondescript day at home.
Despite being sore and sleep-deprived, the experience is new and fresh -- even when it's your third child. It's tiring, but atypical. It's exciting and distinctive.
Still, it doesn't entirely feel real.
There comes a point when life with a newborn does feel real, the point when you realize that the baby is a permanent fixture in your home. The sheer repetition of nursing every two-and-a-half to three hours day and night depletes your energy. The disjointed schedule prohibits extended activity and sustained thought. The newborn diapers are no longer cute when you've changed ten of them that day. The lint in the dryer no longer makes you pause when you're tossing yet another load into the dryer.
Each day is fragmented into cycles and mirrors the previous day. If you have older children, you find yourself rolling Play-Doh with one hand while soothing the crying baby with the other, or climbing the stairs to investigate the thud and scream from your toddler's bedroom while the baby is still nursing, a feat in and of itself.
This is what's real.
And sometimes you simply need a break from reality.
This was the case for me last week. It had been an exhausting day with all three girls, and by evening I needed to step away. My husband suggested that I go for a drive. I backed out of our driveway, pulled onto the road, weakly held up my hand to greet my neighbor, and then, once I was positive that I was out of sight, I rolled down the windows and let myself cry. Hard.
When I returned home, my neighbor -- a man who owns his own excavating business and who, to my knowledge, has never been seen in any apparel besides a red tee shirt, jeans, and work boots -- still lingered in his yard.
I wiped my eyes. I was in no frame of mind to talk with anyone. As I stepped out of the car, he looked my way and offered, "You just needed to get out for a moment, huh?"
I nodded, my throat suddenly tight, as he continued, "I've seen that look before. It's going to be okay."
I hadn't known how much I needed that simple encouragement until I stumbled upon it. Sometimes you don't know what you need, and occasionally you'll only realize it after it comes from an unlikely source.
Perhaps you've stumbled upon this blog and you're feeling uncertain, weary, or discouraged. In many ways I feel as if I've stumbled upon this blog -- this very first post -- as a way to sort through life and motherhood and all that it entails, as a way to remind myself of those very words.
It's all going to be okay. I'll take that to heart.