About ten days after B was born, dear friends came over to visit and drop off dinner. Janet was my mom's college roommate and introduced my parents - she and her husband, Brian, adopted me when I moved to Atlanta. They came bearing wine, homemade caramels and (seriously) a monogrammed chicken pot pie - this is the South, after all
My family had just left the day before, and Nate and I had completed our First Day of Solo Parenting. We were brimming with pride, not just at our girl but at our own accomplishments. We were Doing Awesome, we exclaimed. Betsy was a terrific baby. We were navigating our new roles easily, without friction or argument. The diapers practically changed themselves.
"Honestly, I heard so much about how hard it was to have a newborn, but I really don't know what everyone is complaining about," I boasted, with the wide grin of a kindergartener who rode the bus to school and declares herself an expert on the intricacies of public transportation. "This is really not that bad."
Hubris is a real bitch.
You know, of course, how this story continues to go. Because parenthood is hard, babies eat all the time and adrenaline can only take you so far. We ate standing up in the kitchen, taking turns shoveling food into our mouths while the other one bounced Betsy, who screamed loudly from 4-7p everyday (I can only assume at the indignity of having been born to such inexperienced parents). Originally, we alternated who got up with the baby - a terrific plan in theory, except that Betsy was always, always hungry. Then we decided that Nate would handle everything but food - the diapers, the swaddling, the shushing her back to sleep. Nate is made of stiffer stock than I and so this division of labor quickly fell apart once it was clear that I could not stay awake to feed Betsy - I simply fell asleep in the rocking chair. And that is how we came to be a bed sharing family, which is a story for another time.
What I loved most about Janet and Brian's reactions was that they didn't say anything. Some things just have to be experienced. They loved on us, they left the pot pie, and they checked in a few days later, when things were predictably rough.
Betsy is finally on the upswing after 6 miserable days. We are so very tired. So grateful she is better, so grateful it is over, but mostly just very very tired. We forgot what it was like to wake up every 2 hours. While I was waxing poetic after our first night, by day two I was over that shit -- and I had four more to go. Nate and I marveled that we used to do this all the time - Betsy turned eight months on Sunday and the newborn period felt very, very far away. Janet and Brian had us over for dinner in the midst of it. They rocked our baby while we ate and served bracing gin & tonics, the only cure for what ailed us. And Brian shook his head - yes, it's miserable. Yes, it gets easier. Yes, they get sick - and then, they get better.