Perhaps one of the biggest adjustments that I have had to make as a new parent is the drastic cut in my personal time. I’ve had to give Nate just about all of my attention when he’s awake and that can be draining. I’ve had to specifically carve out a period of time when I’m not caring for him or pumping to spend on me and there are days that I can’t even get around to it! Those days tend to be the bad days, those are days that I’m filled with feelings of resentment, guilt and self loathing because a good mother wouldn’t feel those feelings towards her son or herself.
I became acutely aware of my lack of personal time this morning actually. Izzy and I were talking. We were both in that gray area between sleeping and waking – he was going back to sleep and I was just waking up. I had just described a dream that I had to him, one which really bothered me a whole lot (more on that in another post) and I was obviously distressed about it. My subconcious was telegraphing a big message to me about my fears about motherhood and Izzy told me that he wasn’t so much concerned about that particular fear but that he was concerned that I didn’t have enough time to myself and that I had been spending too much time in the house, with the baby, dealing with only the baby and no one else. In effect, I was isolating myself.
Lately, my personal time has consisted solely of my showers, my trips to the grocery store and sometimes, my trips to the doctor’s office. Other than those brief instances, I’m with the baby constantly, attending to him all the time. 99% of the time, he’s in the same room as me if I’m home with him alone. Even when he’s asleep, I’m with him; he sits in the bouncy chair in our family room while I do laundry or watch TV or surf the net or whatever. My hobbies – reading, World of Warcraft, writing, scrapbooking – have largely been sacrificed to care for him. Since I had a c-section and haven’t been cleared yet, I haven’t been working out intensely, skiing or playing soccer or squash. Needless to say, it’s been a rough adjustment.
There are definitely ideas that I have in order to remedy this. Once he gets older and can go to daycare, I’ll have more time to myself. Also, as he gets older, we can do things together that we both enjoy – I look forward to the day that he asks me to take him skiing or to play soccer with him or to read a story to him or to go to a movie with him. Until that time, there are things that I could do to make my me time more meaningful. Izzy has been really good about caring for Nate when he gets home from work. That frees up some time for me. Using that time more efficiently is a must – I’m sure that I will get better at it as time goes on. I’ve been getting up early – before Izzy gets up – in order to shower, do some chores around the house and blog a little bit before the day starts. That helps too.
Yesterday, we also tried the baby monitor for the first time when Izzy got home. We put Nate in his crib and put the monitors on. That gave us about an hour to ourselves to eat dinner and watch some television before he started fussing. I could feel the anxiety mounting and my chest tightening at the beginning because I was so used to being able to look up and see him there in front of me. Allowing him to be apart from me for bits and pieces each day will help me learn to separate from him because when I return to work, I will have to leave him at daycare. I’m not going to be able to bring him with me to work, no matter how much I would like to! All in all, I think that it was a successful first test. I was able to control the anxiety and Nate did well for his first time in the crib.