About three weeks after Silas was born in 2012, a friend invited me to her husband’s birthday party. It was a kid-free event celebrating some milestone—40? 50? I don’t remember because I was overly concerned with trying to squeeze into regular (read: non maternity) jeans and remember how to brush my hair.
By the time I arrived (alone, as Silas was way too little to leave with a sitter so Jeff stayed home with the kids), I had poked and prodded and stuffed my body into clothes that were too tight and undoubtedly unflattering. I’d tried to cover up the bags under my eyes with make-up, and I even blow-dried my hair.
Somehow I thought I looked fucking amazing and hot—especially for a woman who had just given birth.
No sooner had I poured myself a beer from the keg when two women I knew—wives of former co-workers—joined me on the patio. Thanks to Facebook, they knew I’d given birth recently (not, I was sure, because of the milk leaking through the front of my shirt or the wild-eyed look that kept crossing my face when I forgot and then remembered where my baby was).
I was waiting for them to congratulate me and fawn over my little spawn. Hell, I was loading the pictures on my iPhone as soon as I saw them. Instead they took one look at me, offered perfunctory congrats, and then dove in:
“You’re not sleeping at all, are you?”
“How’s the nursing going?”
Fine. I feel like a cow, but what’s new?
“How old is your older kid?”
Just turned two. Yep, the boys are 25 months apart.
I kept waiting for something… enthusiastic, unrestrained joy at the prospect of a new life coming into the world? Envy that I had a brand new baby? Utter admiration for my rockin (not) post-partum bod?
These women became moms many years before me, and their kids hadn’t been in diapers for as long as they could remember. They were both hot, skinny, and wearing skimpy outfits, and they looked like they wanted to talk about something other than babies.
Cool. I could handle that. For instance, I could talk about how I was wearing non-maternity and had left my new baby at home and WASN’T totally in tears.
Turns out that’s a conversation killer when you’re talking to people who have not just given birth.
I’m not sure why I thought it would be a good thing to say, but before I knew it, I blurted out: don’t you miss having babies?
In a word: NO.
They honestly laughed.
“Oh my god!” one practically howled. “I’m so glad to be done with babies!!”
“Kill me now,” said the other. “I don’t know what I would do if I got pregnant.”
I know they didn’t mean it personally, but at the time, they might as well have said, “Your life sucks sucks sucks sucks!!!”
I am 100 percent certain that is what I heard because on some level I was afraid that my life might suck.
I was tired. Sore. Exhausted. Uncomfortable in my non-stretchy pants.
I kind of wanted to trade places with them and have kids who could dress themselves and do fun things like long division in math class.
I slunk away to the front of the house where I breathed deeply in and out until I calmed down. Then I thought about rejoining the party. But when I recalled the faces of the people I’d seen, I realized I didn’t know anyone else. And that I missed my babies. And that my breasts were full of milk.
So home I went to what was just one of many sleepless, newborn nurse fest nights.
I thought of those women yesterday when I took Henry and Silas to a BBQ.
There were a lot of babies there last night. A lot of parents walking around with babes in baby carriers strapped to their bodies. I overheard several conversations about nap times and bed times and can you please hold the baby for 10 minutes so I can get a beer and pee by myself??
It wasn’t until I saw the sea of parents with new kids that I realized that I’m no longer in that phase. My kids can walk and talk and (mostly) dress themselves. I can go to a party and actually have the energy to talk about something other than nursing. Hell, I’m not nursing anymore, haven’t for over a year. Wow. I never thought I’d say that.
I realize that probably none of this sounds earth shattering.
But for me, it is, in a bittersweet way. I love that I can go out with my kids and not be, literally, tethered to them all night. But damn if it didn’t make me a little sad.
I didn’t say anything to any of the parents last night about whether or not I was glad to have surpassed the phase they’re in. They wouldn’t want to hear it, and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. But I did think of that long ago birthday party and those acquaintances, and I actually understand now where they were coming from.
I’m not that far from the days of newborns and toddlers (truth: Silas is still very much a toddler). But I’m getting further away every day. Somehow, the truth of it all weighed heavily, and when I got home and put the kids to bed, I was nostalgic. My kids are growing up.