Viewing posts for the category babytime
Monday, dec. 28, 2009 | 32 comments
Desi is five months old today! And to celebrate, he spent the past week screaming and squeezing out real human tears and generally not sleeping at all. Meanwhile I lay on his floor in a semi consciousness, my back seizing as I augmented the batteries in his swing with vigorous pushings the likes of which usually put him to sleep but which this week only managed to reduce him to the soft growl stage.
And then lo! This very evening! Out pops a sharp little tooth, his very first one!
Ah. Well then. That makes perfect sense, then. Grow on!
Tuesday, dec. 8, 2009 | 148 comments
One of the things that so freaked me out when I was pregnant were the (always sourceless) romantic-doom statistics that people kept quoting at me. Couples fight eight times more frequently after they have a baby! A couple’s split rate is highest in the baby’s first year! And so on and on. It got me worrying that by having a baby, I was recklessly gambling with my heretofore happy relations with Marco, and I wasn’t entirely sure I would prefer what lurked behind Curtain Number Two. Harmonious little family? Buxom blond astride cantankerous burrow? Matching bedroom set?
And having this baby has indeed been hard on our relationship. There are all the obvious reasons: the crippling lack of sleep, the crimped sex life, the sudden inability to hit the town at will. But also I’m not…entirely…at my best right now? Rather I’m an unkempt shrew with confusingly large and leaky breasts, snapping clichéd complaints at Marco (“Don’t Wake the Baby,” “Why Are You Spending Time with The Boys (and Not Helping Me at Home),” and “Money”) through clenched, unbrushed teeth.
My unattraction goes beyond the poor hygiene and poor-me whining. On a deeper level, I fear I’ve gotten into the bad habit of letting my lesser, more selfish self take the brain reins.
As a pregnant woman, you’re given the green light to be bitchy and whimsically needy. Bring me the black rose from the top of Mount Impossible! And some marzipan ice cream! Over the duration of my pregnancy, the basic human lessons I mastered in kindergarten — how to be nice, how to share, how to temper my tantrums — slowly began to unravel.
I keep thinking of this irrational pregnancy behavior as a deer run. Despite the No Trespassing signs, you let yourself go down it again and again, and eventually the overgrown little trail becomes a beaten path. Then a road. Then a freeway. Until finally it’s the only route you ever take, regardless of your destination. Crave a delicious morning bun(s) for breakfast? Don’t ask your pardner nicely if he would be so kind as to get them for you, provided he has time, or (crazy) go get them yourself. No! Stamp your feet instead! Weep! Wave your scepter! Until the world bends to your will and those mawesome rolls are placed, as if by magic, at your swollen feet.
Oh but then the baby pops out and suddenly you’re deprived of the blank check a swollen belly gives you to be a complete monster. Unfortunately by that time you’ve developed nasty habits of voicing your every frustration and expecting to have every whim satisfied. But weirdly your mate is no longer in any way willing to indulge these habits? Especially now that there’s a new kid in town, screaming and wailing out his every whim and frustration?
Another small but not insignificant part of the problem is that Marco and I are now spending more time in each other’s company than ever, never before. Constant togetherness is nice if you’re on vacation, sunning your parts on the Lido Deck. But it can be nerve-wearing over the longer, less-sunny haul of parenthood, especially during these dark newborn days, a frantic, sweaty time steeped in ineptitude and self doubt, and getting increasingly tense and pressurized. And when I’m finally ready to blow my top, a state I achieve at least five times a day, the only adult in range of the molten vileness is Marco. And vice versa!
Best of all, we exchange the majority of our petty hissing while desperately trying to get the baby to sleep, a time when we can’t actually hear anything due to the brain-fraying murrr of the omni-constant white noise machine — fuzzy static being a key aural ingredient in out constant battle to get and keep the baby asleep.
Evany, muttering: [Some sort of complaint wrapped in criticism infused with passive aggression.]
Marco, in a whisper-yell: “What?!”
Evany, eyes rolling: “Huh!?”
Miami Sound Machine: Murrrrrrrrrrrrrr
Until we just about want to stab each other’s brains out with forks. Quietly.
Of course it doesn’t help that the door to our bedroom is being propped open with a bowling pin, which randomly topples just as the baby’s drifting off to sleep. The hair-trigger smoke alarm isn’t doing us any favors, either.
Still, I think we’re doing okay, despite the alarm bells and hissing fits. We manage to find things to laugh about every day, and there are definite bright spots…sipping coffee in bed, decorating the tree, singing at the baby. Good, cockle-warming days! But for the first time ever, I can understand how something as small as a baby might unravel an otherwise happy twosome. Just as I can now see how a woman might go so crazy as to drive her kids into a lake, something I could in no possible way fathom before. Not that I would ever do such a thing. (Relax!) But I can sense the first icy glimmers of how such things could go that far.
It’s scary! But it’s a helpful scariness, the kind that keeps me alert and watchful and determined not to let things spiral downward. It also gives me a new empathy and forgiveness for parents, or anyone who makes bad decisions, or lets their lesser self take charge, or lets a good thing come to an end. And I kind of like this kinder, tender-er view of my world? But yeah: More sleep, please, and a pinch less petulant shrieking and kneejerkiness.
Wednesday, dec. 2, 2009 | 40 comments
Extracting milk from your person while on the job is a complicated business. First you need a portable pump, which costs a surprising number of dollars (thankfully I got mine secondhand from a friend), then you need an ample supply of freezable storage containers, plus an insulated bag for transporting the goods.
At the office you have to reserve the “Mommy Room,” a strange Microsoft Outlookian process that involves inviting the room itself to series of recurring meetings. You may find yourself doing this incorrectly the first go-round, resulting in a “Mommy Room has refused your invitation” email that will leave you feeling oddly spurned.
Once you and the Mommy Room come to an accord and you have your designated timeslot, it’s time to get pumping. The pump itself is incredibly, conspicuously loud. Luckily the Room is conveniently located right off the main hallway, so there’s always a steady parade of people walking past, perfectly positioned to hear you in there, chugging away like a little engine that could. Also there’s a sign posted in the Room instructing mommies not to lock the door. So there you are, separated from your coworkers by just one thin, unlocked door, with your exposed nipples twisting in the wind. Feeling exposed? Like a sheepish milking cow? Yes and yes.
When you’re done, you can put your haul in the provided mini-fridge, however there’s no place to clean the detachable suction-cup apparatus. That you have to rinse off in the employee kitchen up the hall, right where everyone’s preparing their lunches. (My apologies, gentle coworker, for splashing human milk on your pulled-pork sandwich! Oh, this? This is my suction cup. For my naked breasts, which I ask you to please stop visualizing. Hey, is this decaf fresh?)
The logistics are challenging enough, but the truly hard part is the dent the twice-daily pumpings leaves in your schedule. All told, you’re pumping at least an hour a day. This means the length of your workday, a day already truncated to the barest minimum by your need to get home to be with the baby, is even shorter. Also you’re brain damaged with sleep deprivation. And your chest is leaking.
Best of luck to you!
Sunday, nov. 29, 2009 | 4 comments
Starting at 9am tomorrow, I’ll be back at work after a little over four months bonding with the baby at home. On a perhaps related note, my back appears to have gone out, so as I launder my work clothes and pack up breast pump, there’s a depressingly aged stoop in my step.
With my return to my cube looming large, it occurs to me that this past four months with the baby are probably the longest solid stretch of time that I’ll ever spend with this kid. From here on in, his day-carers and teachers and parole officers will enjoy more together time with him than I ever will.
It makes me sad that I haven’t enjoyed this once-in-a-lifetime togetherness more. I spent the first nine-tenths of my maternity leave in a “fumbling to keep baby alive” sweat, feeling like I was faking my way through a job for which I was vastly underqualified. It’s only in these last few weeks that the panic has started to thaw into some kind of glimmer of “maybe I can actually do this“ness. So of course, just as I start to get my sea legs, it’s back to the sea-salt mines.
Part of me wishes that I could take more time off, enough to really start feeling competent, maybe even confident, about this whole motherhood thing. On the other hand, when I watch the nanny we’ve lined up for our nannyshare sit with the baby, I’m striken by how much more attentive a babysitter she is. No watching So You Think You Can Dance over the baby’s shoulder for her! No teetering the baby in front of the computer while she checks email! She’s engaged and upbeat, where I’m stressy and overtired.
So maybe Desi’s better off with me at work? And maybe it’s better for me that I’ll be going back while my maternity leave is hitting a good note, a la Cheers going off the air when the getting was still good?
Or maybe America does it wrong, and I should move to some scandi-land where new parents get six thousand weeks of m/paternity leave, and all the children end up multilingual and well-adjusted and tan. And buses are made of marzipan! And the streets whiff of sun-warmed kitten fur! And new mothers walk perfectly erect!