Oh my God, motherhood DOES mean mental freeze.

Henry came home from the hospital about a week and a half ago. He is doing really well and has no health issues, and we’ve mostly figured out breastfeeding (as I may have mentioned, the nurses at this hospital were basically FASCISTS about nursing… which is ultimately great and admirable but tough to deal with when it’s 3am and you’re in the ICU and a lady walks in and flips on the lights and trills “TIME FOR YOU TO PUMP, DEAR!”) and he’s gaining weight and crossed five pounds when we saw his pediatrician last week.

That’s all the good stuff. The tough stuff:

OH MY GOD YOU GUYS. I didn’t know having a baby was so hard. I thought I knew it was kind of hard, but- HA HA HA, I had no idea. You people who are parents are heroes. LITERAL HEROES.


It is so rough, you guys. Babies, even ones that are pretty good sleepers like mine (knock wood), wake up every two hours during the night. Except it also takes about a half-hour to feed and change them and settle them again and then you need a little time to actually fall asleep again… so really you get about 70-80 minutes of sleep between feedings.

This is crazy hard.

Have you ever seen that episode of Battlestar Galactica called “33”, and it’s about how the fleet has to hyperjump every 33 minutes because that’s when the Cylons find them?





I was reading something in this baby book I have about post partum depression, and it made me really annoyed. Because, would you say that in general one might define “depression” as “feelings of sadness that aren’t directly tied to external circumstances”? Like, a person could have a really great life but also be extremely depressed, right?

Well, post partum depression is A BULLSHIT PHRASE. Because if a new mother is freaking out and losing it, it’s for good reasons like:

*hormones going crazy
*sleep deprivation levels set to: “GITMO”
*life as you know it carpet-bombed into oblivion, never to return

etc etc etc

So come on man, “post partum depression” is just kind of dismissive and patronizing, you should call it something like “You Have Good Cause To Feel That Way Syndrome”… this is just my opinion, but I’m pretty sure I’m right.

Henry is fine. He is napping beside me in his Snuggle Nest right now. His dad is off to do Army Things in the morning, so we banished him to the couch. Now I am torn between sleeping myself and the knowledge that Henry – who may be going through a growth spurt – will want to eat again in about 45 minutes. Is it worth the 45 minutes of sleep to suffer through the staring-into-the-abyss horror of having to wake up so soon? Or am I better off staying awake until he wants to eat and then falling asleep afterward?

I USED TO BE AN INTERESTING PERSON. I HAD A PSEUDO-CAREER. I WAS GONNA BE A CONTENDER. Now I lie awake and stare at the ceiling and plot imaginary charts where the X axis is “time to next feeding” and the Y axis is “level of despair experienced when you have to wake up for said feeding”.

(This is pretty bleak stuff.)

So, the Snuggle Nest. Let me tell you my big lame lesson about all of this pregnancy and parenthood stuff: I am trying really hard to be less judgmental. Not because I think that being less judgmental makes me more moral or whatever, but because I have come to the understanding that



When I was pregnant, I happened upon the Snuggle Nest at some point. And I laaaaaaughed and pointed and laughed some more. What a ridiculous product! What kind of sucker would buy this? Why not just stick the kid in bed with you? Why have the little baby-in-a-box setup?

Now, of course, I think that the Snuggle Nest is the greatest thing ever, responsible for me getting those 70-to-80-minute stretches of sleep. Which doesn’t sound that great but is up from 40-50-minute stretches when Henry was in his sleeper thing.

I had other awesomely ironic examples of this kind of thing, of how something I used to make fun of was now the only thing keeping me from the edge, but you know what? I can’t remember them. This is a big factor in my life right now, being unable to remember things. Like about 40% of my conversations start with me saying “So I probably already told you this – did I already tell you this?” because I’m trying to hedge my bets, and you know, I probably DID already tell them this, it’s very FOG OF WAR in my brain these days.

Here is a picture of Henry in his Snuggle Nest – or, as I like to call it, ELANA’S HUBRIS BOX. He is so comfortable and snuggly! I am jealous.

so comfortabuhls.


8 responses to “Oh my God, motherhood DOES mean mental freeze.

  1. Elana dear,
    you are quite right about the depression thing.
    What most of us go through is hormone upheaval and sleeplessness. We used to call it the blues, which sounds less clinical than ‘depression’. It does pass. Really. But while you are in it, no future appears viable.
    And your memory will mostly return. ;-}
    Ask any mom.
    did I tell you that already?

  2. I’m with Cher, actually. I had preemie twins who also awoke every 2 hours to feed when they first came home from the hospital, and by the end of the first week (where I was trying to care for them on my own due to their father’s military deployment), my eyes became pits of despair.

    It does get better, at least until they’re teens.

    I’m sorry, what was I saying?

  3. Write this on everything: IT WILL PASS.

    Whatever hell you are in, it’s temporary. Just keep remembering that.

    I’m sort of incapable of perspective or remembering that things weren’t this way before and will be different next week, without any reason as good as yours, so I have to tell myself this ALL the time.


  4. When you find the milk in the cupboard and the cereal in the fridge…remember to laugh, but not in a hysterical way, and don’t cry.

    The best part about being a parent is the sudden realization that YOUR parents probably experience something similar. It is a really tough job, especially these first few months. As all Moms say- it will get better. (Dean chimes in, “Yeah, in about 25 years”.)

  5. I don’t know you personally, so I could be wrong, but I have known a lot of new mothers and you sound more depressed than most of them. Yes, it’s hard, but it isn’t constantly bone-crushingly hard.; if it doesn’t have many bright spots, you could be depressed.

    But then you also had an extremely stressful medical experience. That can’t be underestimated. Either way, I hope that your family keeps an eye on you and makes sure the sobbing doesn’t spell real depression.

    Finally, if you like graphs and data and trying to make sense of the senselessness of newborn sleep, try Trixie Tracker. I LOVE IT.


    Take care.

  6. P.S. Stop changing diapers in the middle of the night; that’s what husbands are for. Also, only change the poopy ones.

    • thehandsomecamel

      Hey Nicole,

      Thanks for commenting! Actually, you bring up something kind of interesting, which is that OUR BABY DOESN’T POOP. I mean, he has pooped in the past, but man, we’re closing in on a week. Of course, this coincides with the period in which we’ve transitioned to feeding him breastmilk exclusively without formula fortifier, but still, it’s kind of freaky.

      So you’re right — we could probably go all night without changing him. But even though we’re using disposables, we both grew up with siblings in cloth diapers, and I think it weirds us out a little bit for our kid to be wearing a diaper that seems to have absorbed about 40 lbs. of liquid, even if his skin isn’t wet. So we’re still learning to relax about that. 🙂

      As for her emotional state, I think Elana’s point is that “depression” makes it sound like one’s feelings are without external cause. When in fact sleep deprivation and the constant neediness of this new roommate and the sheer impossibility of doing all the little things you used to do by yourself to make you feel like a normal person all add up to a really difficult circumstance, and it’s not unreasonable to feel overwhelmed by it. But I don’t know — we’re new parents, so we don’t really have a frame of reference for what’s normal.

  7. Pingback: but what will we tell the children? « Fighting Commies For Health Insurance!

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