sarahkeenihan

Day 216. The new normal

In March 2013 on March 17, 2013 at 8:32 pm

newnormal

When you become a parent for the first time, it can be tough.

Yes, you love your baby. Yes, you feel so lucky to have him. Yes, you could never imagine your life without her.

But it’s confronting, at times overwhelming, to be responsible for a whole new person.

Responsible all the time.

Always.

Never not.

Even in the middle of the night (indeed, especially in the middle of the night, when nobody else may around to support you).

I remember wailing with lack of sleep and my inability to even have a shower some days, saying to my husband,

“I just want life to be normal again!”

He would simply answer,

“This is normal. It’s our new normal”.

Thinking about it from a biological perspective, it reminds me of when we lived in Jakarta, from 2000-2002. It was a stressful place, with incredible poverty, traffic problems, occasional social unrest and cultural differences with which I grappled at work and at home. Security threats felt higher after the September 11 and Bali terrorist incidents. An earthquake which shook our 23rd floor apartment also messed with my mind.

We were lucky in that we used to travel in and out of Jakarta a lot, with trips home to Australia, other regional countries and long weekends in Bali or Singapore being pretty common.

Each return flight to Jakarta began to trigger a physiological response. Emerging from the reprieve of a stint away, as we approached the tarmac our bodies began to prepare themselves for the assault of the ‘Big Durian‘. It felt like levels of adrenaline and cortisol (the so-called stress hormones) underwent a step up, and henceforth stayed up, to make sure we were always slightly on our toes in such a big city with unique challenges.

It’s kinda like that with first-time parenting. Your ‘ready-to-feed-protect-clean-love-cuddle-defend-console’ hormones are triggered to reach a new high, and stay that way.

It feels scary.

Although I’m not sure that one can ever 100% relax per se once the new status of being a parent sets in, you do learn to manage it better.

And after a while, it does feel normal.

[a post for A, T and E]

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