Okay, I'll admit it, the title was something of an attention getter. The goal was to raise eyebrows and get you to read - so if you're reading this - I've succeeded. Please think of the following as something of a venting session, caused by late nights, early mornings, and spit up covered blue jeans.
Who ever coined the phrase "sleep like a baby", was either attempting some sort of humor or a man - most likely a well rested man. Sorry guys, but facts are facts. Women, including myself, are screwed. As little girls, we're programed to take charge and grow up too fast. While boys are playing with monster trucks and BB guns, girls are feeding their baby dolls, playing patty cake, and changing their diapers. Later, we are the glue that holds our Barbie doll families together, cleaning the kitchen floor of Barbie's dream house, and gassing up Barbie's sports car - often while toting around skipper and friends. Then the big day comes. Just when you think things are getting really good; you become a teenager, are allowed to go to the mall unsupervised, and are permitted to wear tasteful makeup. Then, you become a woman. Little do you know at the time that this monthly "gift" will make vacations, formal dances, and pretty much everything else a bit more stressful. I now understand my Grandmother's message on the family answering machine from the fateful day of "womanhood". Something about "becoming a woman", through intermittent sobs. Seems Grandma knew of the hassles that lie ahead.
Then there is pregnancy. The first trimester is mostly a state of mind. You can't really tell you're pregnant but can count on constant nausea and queasiness at the most inopportune times. There is no movement to speak of, excluding some early fluttering which can be easily mistaken as gas, and little showing. This is what I liked to call the "I swear I'm pregnant, not just fat" stage. Truth is, I was just fat.
The second trimester is definitely the high point of the whole experience. With any luck, morning sickness is over, your belly has popped, you're able to eat anything you want - blaming your human incubator status as you reach for your third taco. By the third trimester, you're just about ready to call it quits on the whole pregnancy thing. I couldn't make it one lap around Target, without collapsing in exhaustion. Seems like that little bundle of joy who flourishing inside of you, isn't too little after all. At times I swore Grace was going to be a 20lb. newborn.
I'm not going to lie. Childbirth pretty much sucks. The beginning is alright. Your contractions start and you feel empowered. You can do this! Modern medicine has done wonders for the entire procedure. Epidurals seem to do the trick for most labors, excluding lucky individuals such as myself, who experience back labor - pain comparable to being poked with a hot fire poker in numerous places that should never be poked. Concluding the madness of childbirth, you're finally handed you're baby - who has since been cleaned up and swaddled, and arrives looking like a perfect little bundle. The men? Oh. That's when they tell you how great you did (ya know, having just been prodded with a fire poker for 25 hours), and they often utter the baby's name. In our case, we hadn't decided on a name, figuring that once we set eyes on our little girl it would come to us magically. When Ryan said "Grace", I agreed without contest. Truth is, had he said "Carrot", this delirious Momma would have agreed.
The first few weeks are a blur. 'What to Expect' doesn't quite illustrate the walking zombie of a person you can expect to be. Baby runs the show and you follow. Its easy right? Sleep when they sleep! Oh right - I'll fit that in right between Baby's morning laundry, sterilizing bottles, and changing my nursing pads. I'm sure there's at least 13 restful minutes somewhere in there before Baby starts shrieking.
But just when you think you can't take anymore, it gets better. Baby starts sleeping and Mom and Dad do too. While the late nights aren't quite as riveting as those you spent at concerts or in night clubs, your child's soft goo's and giggles fill you with a warmth unlike any other. It is at this point, post monthly periods, post labor, post childbirth, that you begin to truly appreciate the joy that is womanhood.
It is magical how quickly a child recognizes her Mother. Having heard their Mother's breath, felt their Mother's heartbeat, and grown inside their Mother's belly, it isn't surprising how quickly they respond to our warm touch and soothing voice. I am blessed. Grace's father, Ryan, is very involved. While he isn't home quite as much as he or I would like, his time spent home revolves around Grace. We are both very lucky to have such a supportive male figure in our lives, both as a partner and a friend. This being said, I stand by my initial statement. Womanhood isn't always easy, in fact, rarely is it . The journey is long and filled with numerous "sucky" exploits, but the reward the meets you at the end is well worth it. The "out of your mind" PMS, nauseous mornings (and evenings), midnight tampon runs, crippling contractions, and sleepless nights, create way for the miracle that is Motherhood. Grace is my best friend and co-pilot. My life without her is unimaginable.
As said before, the phrase "sleep like a baby" is irritating at best. Only when my Gracie is resting, with a full belly and happy heart, can one truly sleep like a baby.