Friday, October 30, 2015

The Struggle Is Real

You see that phrase all over the place, don’t you? I like it. It can be funny, it can be serious, it can be a little bit of both (which I think it usually is). Mostly, however, it seems to sum up perfectly the feeling I’ve been having lately which is... 

What the fuck do I do with this new life?? 

I’ve been off work for a month now. I’ve got one month to go. I requested to take off twelve weeks and even had to battle with my benefits department to get it, knowing the whole time I wouldn’t be able to afford it. I actually can’t afford to take the eight weeks I’m attempting. I don’t know, maybe I thought a money fairy would leave a couple coins under my pillow here and there. She didn’t. The struggle is real. 

I live on my couch. I’ve done almost nothing but watch every episode of Say Yes to the Dress, Chopped and all the horror movie marathons in existence. In between the two thousand loads of laundry, that is. I basically just sit around, waiting for my tiny human to need me, which he will, I just never know when. 

I’ve finally started to venture out with him just to break the nerves of doing so. I went out a few times with my mom and then a few times this week on my own. A quick trip to Wal-Mart is now 45 minutes of prepping, feeding, dressing, packing, loading, checking, double checking and then finally going. I stress the entire time about how he will behave, what I will do if he loses his shit (both literally and figuratively) and then watch with white knuckles as he sleeps the ENTIRE TIME. The struggle is real. 

I experienced my first clogged duct in my breast a couple of weeks ago. It was red, swollen and hurt to the touch. The only cure is frequent nursing and pumping. It was the longest day I’ve had with him yet. Every time I put him to that breast, it was like someone was holding a blowtorch to my nipple. Tears ran down my face and my feet danced in pain as he happily drank away, with his perfect, strong latch. The struggle is real. 

I finally left him with my mom for a few hours last week while I went to happy hour with a friend. I was so excited to be out adulting for the first time since I found out I was pregnant. I drank two sangrias and probably four margaritas. Plus a beer beforehand. While it was fun, all I did when I got home was worry about my tainted breast milk. I pumped and stored in the freezer, with big labels of DO NOT USE until I could test the alcohol level to see if they were safe. I spent $20.00 on eight test strips that have yet to arrive so I can see whether I have to dump close to 20 ounces of “liquid gold”. 

When I picked up Xander from my mom that night and brought him home, his mouth immediately went to my shirt and I teared up, knowing I couldn’t feed him from the tap and warmed up a bottle of previously pumped milk. Breastfeeding my baby has become the most important thing that I do as a mom and I couldn’t do it because I may have had a few too many drinks. I definitely had some guilt that night. The struggle is real. 

I miss my friends but make excuses to stay home when I get invited out. The thought of taking a shower, getting ready, bringing Xander with me or even leaving him with my mom seems so much harder than just sitting here on my couch, staring at him. I’ve been in the same milk and spit-up stained tank top for three days now. I wore my hair down a few nights ago for a social engagement and my niece said to me “Auntie Nina, you don’t have a ponytail in!” The struggle is real. 

I had cookies for breakfast AND lunch yesterday. I made cupcakes for a family gathering using cake prep in a box and pre-made frosting. The struggle is real. 

For the most part sleep hasn’t been an issue. That’s the benefit about having a partner who stays up all night and sleeps all day. We take baby in shifts and both get plenty of sleep. Because of the clogged duct issue, I have to make sure I wake up at least once throughout the night to pump but most newborn mommies would still be envious of the 5-6 hours of sleep I get on a consistent basis. Sleep helps me keep my sanity so I appreciate it. However, it means that during the day, I’m basically a single parent, doing everything on my own. Not to mention, my boyfriend goes to work five nights a week, and bowls on one of his nights off. The seventh day is football. So my shifts with little man are looooong. And for reasons that I, shockingly, don’t feel like getting into right now, it feels like I’m raising him with a roommate, not a lover. In this department in particular, the struggle is pretty fucking real. 

So far, the only place where I’m not struggling is actually being a mom to this little piece of perfection. Because, as it turns out, the only thing you have to do is love them more than anything else in the world. And to put their needs first. All I did was take my bad habits and vices and put them in column A and then put a picture of my baby in column B and ask myself which is more important. No struggle there. 

Otherwise, all of this is just as hard as people tell you it’s going to be. It’s also just as rewarding. Part of me dreads returning to work and the other part is anxious to get back at it. I love this little dude with all my heart but I was not made to stay at home by myself all day waiting to be needed. It’s like having cabin fever but with a fear of going outside. 

The struggle is... well, you get the point. 

And this is my new life. It’s not exactly what I pictured it would be. But then again, I’ve never known what the hell I wanted so I shouldn’t be surprised that things turned out so crazy. I don’t believe in God so I don’t feel as if I’ve been “blessed” with a miracle when I look at my gorgeous baby. But I do believe everything happens for a reason and while it is difficult, Xander has already made me a better person. 

I still have a long way to go and lots of hard decisions to make. But every day, I wake up, look at Column B and know I can do the right thing. 

Besides, on any other day, I’d be knee deep in poop, tears and spilled milk by this time of day but he must’ve known I needed to blog because he’s been sleeping all morning. He gets me. It’s only fair I get him back.

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