Thank you to my friend Tara who wrote a lovely and honest journey for us this morning!
Name: Tara Lustberg
Hometown: Jersey City, NJ
How long have you've been living in New Jersey? Long story…but I’ve been in the Hoboken/Jersey City area for about 7 years now.
Occupation: Editorial Production Manager
When did you first become a mother? February 23, 2012
Before becoming a mother, what did you know about motherhood?
Not too much. But I thought I knew a lot. I knew the basics: how to change a diaper, how to hold a baby—that’s about it. But I thought about how cavewomen did this. Teenagers do this. Crackheads do this. How hard could it be? I knew there would be sleep deprivation. I knew breastfeeding was going to be hard. I knew it would be a lot of work. I just didn’t know what it would feel like. Before I got pregnant I always said that I was a mother, I just needed a baby. Let’s just say in the first few months, I learned a lot.
Was the reality close to your personal image/idea?
I thought I had a pretty good idea of what I was in for since most of my friends had already had babies. I have nieces and a nephew and spend most of my free time with children. I kind of knew what to expect, but I got to leave them after a few hours and go home to a nice, quiet apartment with my husband. I got to take naps and go out to dinner whenever I wanted. And when we wanted to see the kids again, we would go see them for a few hours. That’s much different than spending every hour of every day with an infant.
How would you describe the first year especially since you went back to work after a few months of maternity leave?
Scary. Overwhelming. Frustrating. Exhausting. Amazing.
It seriously wasn’t what I had expected. It was really amazing. Here was this beautiful little boy that our families were just so happy about. Everyone was thrilled. It was the first grandchild for my parents and the first grandson for my in laws. They couldn’t have been happier. But at times it was so overwhelming. I remember being in the hospital the day after Noah was born. We had to get a private room because we had so many visitors. Friends and family had come all day long to meet Noah and bring gifts, which was so nice. But the room was crowded and I didn’t have any time alone with my baby or my husband. I was exhausted and overwhelmed. It was 8:00 pm on our first full day with Noah and we were supposed to attend a baby care class in the nursery, but I still had to nurse Noah (which wasn’t going as smoothly as I’d anticipated) and there were still several visitors hanging out. Finally, completely overwhelmed and frustrated that no one was getting the hint and leaving I just broke down and started to cry. I was so scared. I just couldn’t handle it. They had to send a social worker to my room to talk to me and make sure I was okay.
Going back to work was the hardest thing to do. I went from spending every day alone with him in my apartment. I wore sweatpants and breast milk stained t-shirts. I almost forgot how to put on makeup. I was so sad to leave him and go back to work. How could I stay away from my little man all day? I don’t think the 12 weeks I had off with him was long enough. I think it’s just cruel. You are finally getting into a routine, he is just starting to get on a sleeping and eating schedule and boom, you have to go back to work life and you leave him all day. It was terrible.
But we got used to it, and still every day it’s still hard but part of me kind of likes being busy and having the peace and quite of being in the office while he is in my own mother’s capable hands. Sometimes I cry when I am rushing out the door in the morning. If he wakes up before I am able to blow dry my hair, I know I am in for a rough day. How I get out of the house dressed and somewhat made up every single day is miraculous to me.
But, all in all it is really amazing to have this little person that changes so much every single day. He went from this tiny little crying thing into a little boy with a sense of humor and a personality.
How do you juggle your work schedule especially when you have to work late?
That is still something I struggle with every day. It’s really hard. I have a pretty demanding work schedule and a lot of responsibility, but I also have a child. It’s hard to juggle and is the cause of most of my arguments with my husband. He leaves work a few hours before I do (he also wakes up for work at 5am) and drives 40 minutes each way to pick Noah up every night. By the time he gets home, I am just getting home from work. If I don’t walk in by 8 pm (which I often do not) I know we are going to have an argument.
Did you have a support system near by?
Yes, and I am so thankful for that. I couldn’t do this without them. My mother watches Noah 3-4 days a week. She lives about 40 minutes away but drives to me to pick him up, takes him back home with her and my husband drives up to pick him up and take him home each night. 1-2 days a week my in laws do the same thing. I wouldn’t be able to work if it were not for them helping us so much.
Your son just turned one, how are you feeling going into his second year?
I am looking forward to the next year. It is really just so incredible how much he has learned and grown in the past year, I am excited for him to be able to do things. I know that it isn’t going to be easier, but I think that having a 1 year old is a lot easier than having a newborn. Every single day I just look at him in aw that I created him and I can’t wait to watch him grow up. But I am scared. He’s a quick and curious little boy. I am already exhausted and he’s just starting to get this walking thing down.
Tips for new moms?
They always tell you to sleep when the baby sleeps. Well, if that’s the case, when are you supposed to pee, shower, eat or clean? Yes, definitely take advantage of whatever sleep you can get. But also take advantage of any help is offered if you are fortunate enough to have someone’s support nearby.
Also, I made myself insane about breastfeeding. I know how important it is and I tried (and finally succeeded). But I never knew how hard it would be. Noah had the worst latch. It was so bad I screamed bloody murder one night and my neighbors came by to make sure I wasn’t being tortured. I would cry when it was time to feed him. It got so bad that I started to resent my husband for not having to deal with this and one night he just insisted I pump and he would give him a bottle. That later led to my supply going down and him deciding that he was going to start supplementing formula. I was so upset. I felt like a failure. I hated my husband for it. But then I realized it was the only thing that kept me somewhat sane. I still breastfed and pumped as much as I could once I went back to work, but he got formula when he needed it. He finally completely weaned himself when he was 8 months, which devastated me, but I got over it when I realized how far I had come. I did really well and he was strong and healthy and that was all that mattered. Don’t worry too much about how you’re feeding your child as long as your child is being fed and thriving. Making yourself crazy isn’t going to help anyone.
Everyone will tell you to enjoy your child because it goes so quickly. It really does. I really never knew what that meant until the last year just flew by. When I start getting frustrated with Noah I stop myself and just give him hugs and kisses. I remind myself to cherish this time because it won’t last.
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