So I started talking about it outloud.
My friend, though, was interesting: she didn't find the first baby very hard. It was when the others (three total) came along that it started to look impossible to her.
And here's what I think is the difference - she was twenty three when she had the first one, and I was thirty five. I could see how taking care of a baby at twenty three could be viewed as fun. But at thirty five, the reality is that a baby is a freedom-sucking-anxiety-producing upheaval. At thirty five what you've had is your own life, planned (possibly) and cultivated (hopefully); you've maybe had a career, the freedom to go from relationship to relationship, possibly city to city, and at least apartment to apartment. Freedom. Freedom to go to the movies, or not. To choose to go to work, or not. To eat in restaurants and travel and take hour long baths. At twenty-three, you don't have as much life or history to give up.
The reason becoming a parent is so hard at thirty five is the resentment. Though the baby is amazing and you love it with every cell of your body, you also resent the little fucker for completely destroying the life you knew and replacing it with one covered in exploding diapers and clogged milk ducts and vomit. Plus, sleep deprivation is much more taxing on a thirty-something body and mind. The twenty-three year old rarely has solid regular sleep in the first place. I was probably more sleep deprived when I was 23 than I was with an infant. Okay, not quite. But it's close.
I've taken to the ipod lately. One earbud in, my low music the soundtrack to this movie. It creates a little bit of distance for me, a little bit of space all my own, a little elbow room. Being an only child, I think, makes me less used to sharing my personal space, and makes me feel the resentment even more keenly. I've been lately feeling smothered, and just the ipod can bring me back to myself, make me remember that I still have my own internal life, even though I give and give and give. Though it sometimes feels like it, we never give it all away.