I was chatting with one of my oldest friends the other day, who had an adorable little baby boy a month ago. She’s in that stage of manic new-momness where it’s hard to imagine leaving the house some days, where there’s no point in dressing a baby in anything besides pajamas (because it’s way too complicated snapping and unsnapping all the crazy million components of “real” baby clothes the 40 or so times a day they poop everywhere), where you can’t remember what it ever felt like to get more than two hours of sleep in a row. When I was in that place a million years (7 weeks) ago, I never, ever believed any of the many people who told me it would get easier.
As a new mom, everything feels like a FACT. If the baby’s not sleeping, she will never sleep again. You’ll never learn how to understand her cries the way the internet says you will. I was completely convinced I’d be a floppy, milky zombie wandering around with shit in my hair for the subsequent decade.
Anyway, it really does get easier. I have no mom advice to offer on that front, besides to try and survive the early days. Don’t listen to people who tell you to “enjoy every minute of it; it doesn’t last long!” because those people are sleeping and don’t have human feces in their hair.
After 3 or 4 weeks of sitting around the house, I got really restless. Against my midwife’s advice, I convinced my mom, who was visiting for a few days, to help me escape. Desperate for my independence, I lugged the 400 pound car seat back and forth from my front door to the car. We loaded Lucy in and did anything I could think of with an infant that wouldn’t annoy people: went to the mall and walked around, went to a different mall and walked around, spent an hour eating lettuce wraps and diet coke at P.F. Changs.
The mind and body don’t always agree on what they need, and after a week of these grand adventures, I started profusely bleeding again. (It turns out they tell you not to overextend yourself after major abdominal surgery for a reason.) I was told to park myself on the couch and not leave for another two or three weeks.
Have you guys seen all four seasons of Homeland? Really great show. I also watched every Bravo show ever made on demand and lost 20 IQ points in the process. I haven’t read a book in six months, but consider it an accomplishment that I still know how to read. (Truly the only advice I have for new moms is: get Netflix).
I have now kept my baby alive for 11 weeks, which is 47 decades in mom-time. Once I allowed my surgical wounds heal, Lucy and I became a professional team of house-leavers. To all my fellow new moms or moms-to-be out there, you will learn to leave the house again, and it will feel amazing. You’ll get used to putting her in the carseat, and she will eventually stop crying in it. You will stop obsessively worrying about how she might blow out a diaper in public, because it will happen, and you will both be fine. You’ll stop worrying about her throwing a tantrum in a restaurant, because that will happen, too. The other patrons will look at you in abject horror or sympathy, and you will not care, because you left the house today and that makes you a champion.
Leaving the house will make you feel like a whole person again.
In case you need some ideas of what to do out there, here are the things that Lucy and I do:
1. Go to the library. We got lots of books as presents before Lucy was born but we’ve read them all twenty times already. Go get more. Get there early and line up with the hobos outside who are waiting to shower in the bathroom sink, like we did yesterday. Some libraries also have readings for kids.
2. Walk around. It’s good for the bod (whatever is left of it- I think my scale is broken?). We like to walk around outside if it’s nice out, either around a town or on local paved trails. When we were still living in the arctic apocalypse that was this past winter, we walked around malls, which have the added bonus of cinnamon sugar pretzel and lemonade availability. Sometimes, I just go to Costco, and think about buying a 10 pack of Tevas.
3. Post-natal Yoga (a.k.a. Mommy and Me Yoga). You can bring your baby and no one will judge you if she starts wailing, plus you have a solid excuse not to stand in Warrior 2 forever while the instructor talks for fifteen minutes about her 500 hours of Bikram training (you have to tend to the baby!). This is also a nice way to meet other new moms.
4. Go to Baby Gap and Carters. What if you never have another child? You better buy All The Tiny Baby Clothes before it’s too late. Also, shopping involves walking, which is exercise. As stated by Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.”
5. Sit in a coffee shop and make something. Write your birth story while the baby naps in her stroller. Draw some pictures. Scour Pinterest for ideas of stuff you can DIY when you get home, or dinner ideas that require very little cooking. Chat up all the other new moms who are hanging around the coffee shop, because they had to leave the house, too.
Whatever you do, you’re doing great. You are both still alive. And if it’s still too much for you, there is absolutely nothing wrong with playing Donkey Kong in your underwear while you eat pizza for a week straight.