The first days (and, even more so, nights) of caring for a newborn are what I like to refer to as "the dark ages." Those first two or three weeks, each hour is an eternity and if someone tells you "it will get better in a few weeks" you honestly question if you will make it that long.
Around the 1 week mark I was at the pediatrician getting the bean's first check-up. I imagine I looked something like this:
Only less facial hair. Trying to keep that nugget alive those first few weeks, with NO sleep, I found myself identifying with Tom Hanks' character in Cast Away: isolated, helpless, desperate, lost. I'm not exaggerating. The hormones coursing through my body had me convinced that I was completely miserable, and there was no end in sight. The pediatrician took one look at me at that first check up and said,
"I know... but it does get better."
My immediate response? "When?"
He visibly flinched, like he didn't want to tell me the answer. "The first few weeks are the hardest..."
The reason he flinched is that he KNEW that any response other than "tomorrow" would be too long. I packed up my kid and headed home to pull out my teeth with ice skate blades... I mean breastfeed (in the early days, these are comparable activities).
The true key to my survival in those early days (other than a wonderful, loving husband and partner who was as out of his depth as me) was to have a lifeline to the outside world. Holding my clusterfeeding baby to my bleeding chest, I would sob to myself as I desperately tried to swype one-handed to my dear friend, Mary (mother of a toddler) about how miserable I was. And then, Mary gave me my Wilson.
Mary added me to a secret facebook group of Moms; we shall call them the "Mommies Templar." At two in the morning, I could post my misery to the wall of this group, and even if no one responded right away, I felt comforted. The most amazing part, though? Usually someone did. Even at 2 a.m. "I feel you, my kid is up eating, too." Just knowing I wasn't alone made such a difference.
Eventually, my involvement with the MT evolved to include not just an outlet for frustration, but an incomparable source of advice and help to a new mom. The best part about these ladies is that they are always honest and blunt; they are not afraid to (in the privacy of our group) call their own kids pains in the ass and (most importantly) to tell you there's nothing wrong or abnormal about feeling that way. These moms represented the Wilson to my Tom Hanks but, ironically, they were what saved my sanity in those first weeks.
Now I could not love those women more if i knew them personally (other than my friend, I have never met any of them); they reached out to and welcomed me in my time of need. Through them I got to know some women who are TRULY heroic and amazing (moms of mulitiples and preemies, my hat is forever off to you). Is it wrong to say that it made me feel better to know there were people out there who had a harder time of it than I did? I think I clung to the idea that, through the seemingly insurmountable obstacles some of these moms had, they pulled through. They survived. They even thrived. Look at that, I'm a poet... and didn't know it.
So in closing, this is a love letter to those moms. Thank you for listening to me when I was completely off my rocker, but assuring me that it was normal. Thank you for helping me to appreciate the good times with my daughter by letting me vent about the bad. Thank you for the advice and peace of mind. Thank you for being my new friends.