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Sanity Central > Columns > Stretchmarks on My Sanity

Surviving The First Eight Weeks
by Linda Sharp

In the past two articles, I have attempted to enlighten you as to the realities of pregnancy and the Real Deal regarding labor and delivery. From the comments that have poured in from those who have been there and done that, mine is not the only love / hate relationship with the infamous What To Expect series of books. Most agree that they used it as their bible during the first pregnancies, as good toilet reading during their second, and as a fine doorstop during the third and subsequent go rounds. While there is a sequel to the book, What to Expect The First Year, I shall address what is most universal and most ignored in this and any advice book on the shelves. It is called Surviving The First 8 Weeks, or what I refer to as THE BLACK HOLE.

There you are, happily ensconced in your hospital room, enjoying the room service, control of the TV, the ability to send the new baby back to the nursery and your own comfy donut ring. Suddenly, as you are luxuriating in yet another sitz bath, the door to the bathroom is flung open by your doctor, informing you that it is check out time. WHAT?!?! You have to leave this oasis? Yes, the baby is healthy, your stitches are secure and most importantly, your insurance only covers drive thru type deliveries. Before you know it, you and baby are being wheeled to the exit and deposited on the curb with a jungle of half dead flowers, wilting balloons and a free sample of every formula known to exist on planet Earth. Oh yes, your donut ring is balanced on top of a pile of hospital maxi pads.

Arriving home with your new bundle, you will feel like the most incompetent person to ever walk the planet. Scratch that. You will feel like the second most incompetent person, your husband being the first. Who, in their right mind, thought it was a good idea to allow you two to not only give birth, but to bring the child home?!?!? From the first cry, you will enter the Black Hole at warp speed. Your whole life will now be focused on the single act of making the crying stop. You will bounce, jiggle, sway, snuggle, and cry with the baby when nothing seems to work. You will sing. It does not matter if you are not a gifted vocalist. You will sing jingle bells, commercial jingles, and your old college fight song. You will even sing the ingredients off a box of cereal. Soon you will find a tune that seems to quiet your darling child.

If you choose to nurse your new baby, please place your seatbacks and tray tables in their full and upright positions as you prepare to descend into hell. If you are Catholic, you will surely believe this is penance for ANY past, present or future transgressions. There is no pretty way to say it. It hurts and it will continue to hurt until your nipples toughen up like shoe leather (approximately 7 - 10 days). My toes would literally curl so tight when my first daughter would latch on, I could have bent steel.

Sleep will become a foggy, murky memory as you begin to operate on three minutes of it a day. You will feel as though you are IN a murky fog. Babies eat around the clock, and unfortunately, the clocks of many of them are still working in the time zone directly opposite yours. Day will be night, night will be day. You will become an expert on every infomercial and home shopping club on TV, as you attempt to pass the time while nursing at midnight, 2am, 4am, 4:45am . . . During the day, when the child actually naps for a decent period of time, do NOT do laundry, pay bills, clean. LIE DOWN! You won't actually sleep, mind you, because your brain knows the baby will begin to wail at the precise moment you drop off.

Your personal beauty regimen will suffer during this period as well. Showers will be hard to come by and mascara just won't matter. Your clothing, if nursing, will all contain circular "let down" stains, and nursing or bottle, your shoulder will be permanently adorned with a cloth diaper, rag or towel which leaves you smelling like Regurg del la Renta. You won't care. Your outings will be limited to emergency runs to the Wal-Mart for more diapers and wipers.

Then as your bundle nears the two month mark, something amazing will happen. It won't all happen at once, but over the course of a few days, it dawns on you . . . the child is napping at the same time, for the same length of time each day! The baby responds to your smile with one of its own! Night time feedings become well spaced, affording you up to three hours of slumber in between! You find you can work in a shower, the laundry AND some mascara! You will even break out the stroller and hit the mall for a stroll among the living! Congratulations! You have emerged from the Black Hole and are now ready to get down to the task of actually raising that little darling. But then, that is a whole other set of articles.

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