Having a Baby Changes You: The Cool Mom is Dead

I wanted to have a baby and still leave the house and still see my friends and still do everything I did before the baby.

So I did.

I had the baby. She stayed in NICU for 4 days, then she came home, and the whirlwind began.

Family came to the house to stay and help us out.

Extra people in the house means extra cleaning, extra bed-making, extra sheet-washing, extra food-buying, extra food-making, extra communication and doesn’t allow for a routine to be built as a family; because each new family member that arrived to help arrived with different methods of communication, different areas of helping out (some walked the dog; some did dishes; some loved baby snuggles on the couch), and each week was different.

And that was so great and so wonderful and so nice and we are eternally grateful for the army of family that arrived week after week to help out- but all those extra things are one more extra thing on top of the original thing- which is navigating how to all of a sudden snap your fingers and become someone’s Mom.

So I was managing all those house guests.

And trying to be nice. And friendly. And polite.

To everyone that came through my door.

With throbbing nerve pain resounding through my clitoris, a newborn baby squawlering on my hip, and running on three hours of sleep.

I wanted to please everyone. Be a nice mom. A mom that had it all together, never lost her temper, was never demanding or bitchy, pleased everyone and had a perfect home.

Also in those first six weeks were a plethora of necessary appointments.

Between Sadie and I, we had weekly appointments at: the midwife’s, the obstetrician’s, the chiropractor’s, Calgary Lab Services for lithium testing, the psychiatrist for mental health check-in’s, and the family doctor’s. They weren’t all in one week, but it usually worked out to be about 4 out of home appointments per week- with a revolving door of guests in my home, throbbing nerve pain resounding through my clitoris, a newborn baby screaming on my hip, and running on three hours of sleep.

So I bundled the baby and I up and went to all those appointments.

I wanted to do it all.

I had made the decision to stay for the first 6 weeks with the family doctor’s clinic that had supported me throughout my pregnancy. The catch was- they were located in Canmore, where I had moved from at 34 weeks pregnant, and now the drive to see the doctor was an hour and 15 minutes away.

My reasons for this were twofold- Canmore had been my home, and as such, my core group of girlfriends that had been with me through all the stages of my pregnancy was still located out there and if I drove out there, I could pop in and visit them- and also, I wanted the doctors and nurses who had been so kind to me during those first 34 weeks to see the fruits of my labor.

So three (or even four times- I can’t remember), I bundled up my very newborn baby and drove an hour and 15 minutes one way to go to Canmore.

One of the times I was there, I popped into my old workplace and surprised one of my closest friends with her first Sadie-hug as she had yet to come out to Crossfield to see us and I thought she might like that.

That day was a hard day for us; Sadie, Ryan and I were all exhausted, in a rush, sick of spending all our day stuck in the jeep and rushing around like chickens with our heads cut off- but I demanded that we stop at my old workplace to give that friend a nice surprise.

I wanted to be the cool mom. I wanted to do it all.

The other three or four times I went out to Canmore, I would always visit my old friends at my old workplace, or send out a group message saying ‘Hey, Sadie and I will be in town this Friday- does anyone want to hang out?’. If the answer was no, I tried to invite them for fun events in my new neck of the woods. Boozy Stampede party? Group sleepover at my house after?

I wanted to be a cool mom. I wanted to be a good friend. I wanted to do it all.

This week- it all kind of hit me at once.

I had a friend come over to help me at my house for the week because my husband was away for work again. Because, oh yes, in the midst of all this- my husband took a new job wherein which he is pretty much gone for the first 6 weeks of his new job training, so that’s been fun…

I’m not a diva- I’m not a princess- I need to make it clear here that I don’t have a revolving door of people coming to stay with me because I’m demanding or selfish or incapable of operating as a mother of a newborn-

I have a revolving door of people coming to stay with me because I have bipolar type 1. And as someone with bipolar type 1, I have a medically necessary requirement to sleep at least 5 hours straight for at least every 1 in 3 nights, or for lack of a better word, I will go psycho and need to be committed to a mental hospital for 14-30 days.

It sucks, and it’s embarrassing (even though that’s dumb to feel, because its not like I asked for bipolar- its just a shitty life card I’ve been dealt)- but it sucks and it’s embarrassing to need these people in my home as an otherwise capable grownass woman of 33 years of age. It sucks to have to beg people to come stay with me so I don’t go crazy.

So my friend came to stay with me this week and I was trying be nice, and polite, and perfect, and happy, and not demanding, and not bitchy, and not short-tempered.

And I failed.

Four days into her stay, I yelled at her to move her stuff away from my child’s closet doors so I could put my child’s laundry away.

A fight ensued; I ran away into my bedroom, shut the door and cried, and my friend left my home shortly thereafter.

I spent the whole rest of the day crying intermittently while trying to get shit done, like clean the house and feed myself and my child.

The fight with my friend made me so upset that I started thinking of some other friends with whom I had recently fallen out of touch, so I reached out to them by text and basically said ‘Hey, have I done something wrong? I don’t hear from you anymore and it makes me sad.’

And within four hours, the two friends basically wrote back what I feared they might, which was something along the lines of ‘this relationship is one-sided’ and ‘you’ve changed, so you’re not worth my time anymore.’

And I bawled my eyes out.

I had tried so hard. I drove out to Canmore 3-4 times in the first 7 weeks of my baby’s life. I had texted. I had tried to make plans. I had tried to maintain those friendships. I had wanted to do it all, and to do it all well.

Be a Mom. Be a Cool Mom. Not let it change me. Have a clean home. Have a Perfect home. Have people over. Entertain them. Feed them delicious meals fresh out of my oven. Be fun. Be gracious to those who came to stay in my home. Maintain all my old relationships. Keep my head up.

And yesterday was my final straw.

Who am I kidding??? I can barely f*cking meet my Own basic needs on the daily- why am I power cleaning the house and whipping homemade meals out of the oven for guests when all I ate yesterday was a chocolate bar and a bag of corn chips I found stuffed in my couch???

Why am I trying to be gracious to those who enter my home and know that they are here to help me sleep- why can’t I just tell them my life is a mess, I am exhausted and I need them to shut up so I can go the Eff to sleep?

Why am I driving multiple times over hell’s half acre to try and maintain friendships with people that haven’t come to see me or my daughter once since my baby was born?

Why am I trying to hard to be the Cool Mom and to please Everyone Else??

So I’m done.

The Cool Mom is dead. I did away with her yesterday.

Whoever doesn’t like me now that I’m just a boring old Mom can continue not liking me- and I’m no longer going to shed tears for those losses.

I’m going to lean into my loving husband, tuck my child into my armpit and gaze at her big blue eyes, and hunker down in my beautiful home.

As my Mom always says: “You can’t please all of the people all of the time. Only some people, some of the time.”

I’m going to start trying to live that way, and letting it be okay to not be okay.

XO, Em

To the Best Mother I Know

Today, on my very first Mother’s Day, I would like to pay my respects and give the honour to the best mother I know-
Ryan Schofield.

But seriously.

On April 15th, two days postpartum for me, and day two of neonatal intensive care for our daughter, I looked over at Ryan from my wheelchair in NICU while he was asking the nurse questions about her latest bowel movement while teaching me how to bottle feed our daughter the way she liked it – and I laughingly told him that when Mother’s Day came around, I was going to dedicate it to him.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a fierce-ass feminist and that I Love awareness days.

Anything I can do to promote women’s rights, I will.

International Women’s Day?
Time to sing women’s praises.

Red Dress Day?
Time to grieve and shed light on indigenous women’s struggles.

The Me Too movement?
Time to unite women, enlighten men and rage against the machine.

So you would think that on my Very First Mother’s Day, I would sing the praises of all the strong women I know, including myself, once more.

But no- I am Honestly dedicating this first Mother’s Day post to my amazing and rock-steady partner,
Ryan Schofield.

I know that seems strange-
Way to take one of the only occasions given to celebrate women and give it to a man-
What a bummer!
But hear me out.

My birth was traumatic.

I Absolutely Loved it and I would birth 100 more babies because I loved the act of it so much- but in the sense of what it did to my body, it was traumatic.

I had a front to back tear that got completed by a 1.75-inch episiotomy to save my future anal sphincter’s ability to function.

My girl was twisted inside of me at a 45-degree tilt that required two pairs of obstetrician’s arms to disappear inside of me at the 7th hour of labour to wrench her shoulders into a more desirable downward descent.

The last half hour, my tearing got worse, and she had her face turned at the wrong angle for a safe head passage into the world.

So then a 14-inch long pair of forceps disappeared inside of me to fix that problem.

Then the scissors for the episiotomy came out and cut me almost two inches long.

Then my almost 8-pound girl came out of there.

I’m telling it in detail like it is because That- or something like That- is how women become Mothers.

Pregnancy, birthing, mothering- it’s All hard as Hell.
It’s beautiful, empowering, soul-deepening, heart-widening and Amazing- but the process of becoming a mother is Hard as Hell.

And that is why my first Mother’s Day is dedicated to Ryan.

Without his love, I wouldn’t have wanted to create Sadie and bring her into being in the first place.

Without his strength and presence beside me in the delivery room, I don’t know how I would have gotten through the labour itself.

Without his dedication to our daughter in NICU those first 48 hours that I was too mangled in the Postpartum unit to even get to our child-
Sadie wouldn’t have had the right paperwork signed, the right questions asked and dutifully reported back to me; and most importantly, she wouldn’t have been able to hear from at least one of her functioning parents how much she was loved.

I was in a drugged-out and sleep-deprived daze for the first 48 hours of postpartum and Ryan was Always there for her, and for me.

And without Ryan’s Fierce commitment to me and my mental and physical health, I wouldn’t have flown through my postpartum recovery phase as well as I have.

We had a little three-day stumbling block with a potential manic episode, but together we recognized it, treated it, and rose above it.

Ryan is an Incredible parent, and an amazing partner.

So while it rattles me to dedicate this day to him and not to myself or any one of the amazing Mother’s I have or know-
He Deserves it. He Earned it.

A mother, to me, has all the following traits:
Nurturing, strong, caring, kind, patient, loving, fiercely protective, dedicated and basically a badass.

So, Ryan- Happy Mother’s Day.

I LOVE parenting with you.