From Delirium to What The Eff Did I Do? (First 5 Stages of Motherhood)
New Mom Parenthood The First Few Weeks

From Delirium to What The Eff Did I Do? (First 5 Stages of Motherhood)

By Karen Johnson

Motherhood is a roller coaster. It’s incredibly difficult, then easier, then terrifying, then manageable, then gut-wrenching… all at the beginning. Here are the first 5 stages you’ll experience when you birth forth another human into this world.

Stage 1: Delirium.

You are excited, overwhelmed, confused, and so very tired. Not just from lack of sleep but also from the intense fear that has seeped into your bones, that weighs you down every second you are awake and also haunts your dreams. The fear that you may break it (the baby) or lose it (yourself). And the realization that despite thinking you were prepared, that there is no preparedness for bringing home that first baby. You don’t know what you are doing—no one does. Why is he still crying? You don’t know. Your husband doesn’t know. Grandma doesn’t know. The doctors don’t know. No one can help you at 3 a.m. And having to accept that terrifying reality and live with it is just. so. exhausting.

Well, I have good news and bad news about Stage 1. The good news is that it doesn’t last long, and that you’ll never be here again. The bad news is that it doesn’t last long. And that you’ll never be here again. Because for all of the 3 a.m. walks around the house trying the shushing and patting and feeding and looking at your husband with desperate pleading eyes for some other idea, some other never-thought-of-before-but-surely-will-work solution, for all of those long days of loneliness and isolation and when did I last shower?… The truth is, there is no joy, no greater moment of truth in your life, than bringing home your first baby. You’ll never be here again, as Stage 1 doesn’t exist with #2 or #3 (or more than that, if you are a lunatic and keep going). Because when you bring home #2, the toddler is there too. Or the preschooler. And it’s better and easier and harder and even more tiring. But it’s not Stage 1.

Stage 2: Breathing.

You’ve started functioning again. You’ve ventured out now, with baby, to the grocery store or to a friend’s house. You’ve let someone other than Dad and Grandma hold her. You’ve now survived blow-out diapers in public, the joys of cutting off a poop-drenched onesie, and learned how to feed baby in the car. You are practicing personal hygiene again, realizing baby can manage to entertain herself by looking around and eating her thumb for 8 minutes if Mom takes a shower. You sleep now—not all night, but in good enough chunks that have allowed your brain to process thoughts again, and have real conversations with sentences. You may brave a Mom’s Night Out here and there. You can breathe. We’re all going to be okay, you say.

Stage 3: Devil Spawn.

BAM! Goodbye Stage 2. At around 6 months, Stage 2 ends with painful abruption. Suddenly baby doesn’t sleep anymore. One night you put your angelic baby boy to sleep with his lullaby music and teddy bear mobile softly and gently dancing above his face… only to wake up to a fire-spitting demon raining his anger and frustration upon anyone who dares to touch, feed, or change him. Who is this? You wonder. Where did my baby go? I have had many friends turn to me with dark circles under their eyes, swaying in their step as they can barely stand up anymore, and ask me: What do I do? How do I get the other baby back? And I wish I had the answer, but I don’t. No one knows how to cure demon-baby. All you can do is protect yourself and others from harm, increase your caffeine intake, and know that Stage 3 doesn’t last forever. (However, FYI: you will revisit this stage 897 more times in the future.)

Stage 4: Stupidity.

Ah, the peace and serenity of stage 4. Satan has been exorcised (you don’t know how, but you don’t care) and your baby is sleeping and eating and happily playing. Life is good again. But here’s the problem with Stage 4. It magically erases Stages 1 and 3 from your brain and makes you say stupid, stupid things like “I think I want to have another” and “Sweetie, I want to start trying again.” FOOL!

But don’t chastise yourself too hard for your idiocy while in Stage 4. We’ve all been there. (I was there twice. TWICE!) So you and the hubs went and got a little frisky, did ya? Got yourself knocked up again, huh? Hahahahaha. Welcome to Stage 5.

Stage 5: What the Fuck Did I Do?

Now you’re pregnant again. And guess what your baby turned into? That’s right. A TODDLER. A bucket-dumping, tantrum-having, man-poop making, food-throwing toddler. And you went and made another one because of that damn Stage 4 bliss. And now you can’t even drink.

And there you have it, folks. The first five stages of parenthood! Stay tuned for Stage 6 (Bringing home Baby #2 and Having Toddler Throw a Shoe at It).

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