Monday, July 25, 2005
The endorphins are gone. Long gone. They abandoned me about a week after Milo was born -- roughly around the time it became impossible for me to pee. I felt like I'd just been cast down into a dreary gray mundanity after experiencing the biggest and best ecstasy trip ever -- except in this bleak new reality I wasn't allowed to sleep. And then there was that whole "being unable to pee" thing -- that certainly didn't make it any better. (But that was soon followed by a week in which I couldn't stop pooing -- and the less said about that, the better.**)
And after the loss of the endorphins came the tears... Oh yes, the tears. It seems like I cry at everything these days. All the barriers I've erected over the years against the floodgates of my emotions have been blown away like flimsy old billboards in the path of a hurricane.
I cry because Milo's so small and helpless and the only way he can communicate his needs is by crying himself.
I cry because he's getting bigger every day and no longer fits into his first outfits and will never be a teeny tiny "single-digit-day-old" newborn again.
I cry because I have to fight to make him sleep in the mornings then have to fight to make him wake up in the afternoons.
I cry because when he frowns he looks like he hates me and when he smiles he looks like an angel who's just pulled a fast one on God.
I cry because he's just so damned cute when he's curled into a little ball on my chest and because the green eye boogers that have been clogging up his left eye simply refuse to go away.
I cry because a mild case of infant acne has marred his perfect beauty and because he'll have to go through the whole acne thing all over again once he's a teenager. Then I cry because he's someday going to be a teenager and want to learn how to drive fast cars and no doubt get good and liquored up at crazy house parties while I lie awake nights, praying that he arrives home safely.
And then I cry because I know I'm turning into my mom.
But mostly, I just cry because I haven't been getting enough sleep.
(Although in the interests of full disclosure I should mention that Milo let me sleep for a whole four hours last night! My lord and master's generosity knows no bounds!)
Now in case you're all hurrying to call the postpartum hotline on my behalf, hold the phones, people. For as much as I've been crying because I've been sad or frustrated or overwhelmed by how surprisingly non-intuitive I'm finding this whole mothering thing to be, I've also been crying because I'm happy and grateful and awed by the opportunity to bear witness to the unfolding of a new life. All the challenges and difficulties seem to evaporate when I'm looking into my son's eyes and he's looking into mine and I know he's seeing me, really seeing me for the first time, and trying to figure out who I am and how I fit into this bizarre new world in which he finds himself -- all the while no doubt thinking, "What the hell's she crying about, anyway?"
**Yes, my language has become permanently infantilized. My breasts have become "boobs," my urine is "pee" and the act of taking a shit is now "pooing." And all three of these things have become perfectly fine topics to bring up in general conversation, thank you very much.
Sunday, July 17, 2005
Newborn babies are a lot like kidnappers, I've realized. They hold you hostage and assume total control over your life, breaking down your resistance and obliterating your sense of self by forcing you to remain captive in one spot, unable to eat, drink, or even scratch your itchy nose without their express approval.
Then, when they start throwing you little crumbs - allowing you to go to the bathroom, for example, or sleep for a whole three hours at once - you're so incredibly grateful that you fall on your knees at their feet and kiss their toes for their unwarranted display of munificence. And thus it begins... Soon you start identifying with them, feeling sympathy for their cause, even when their needs are so obviously antithetical to your own.
Yet another ingenious defense mechanism, meant to ensure the survival of the species, I'm guessing...
Newborns, you see, are supposed to be fed eight to twelve times a day, which means they're eating a minimum of every three hours. That's three hours from the BEGINNING of each feed, people. Factor in the burping and the diaper changes - not to mention having to wake a baby who's fallen asleep at the boob - and there's usually ninety minutes or less from the end of one feed to the beginning of the next.
Needless to say, this doesn't leave Mama with enough time to much of anything beyond grabbing a quick shower to wash off the baby puke (yes, Milo has discovered his gag reflex and enjoys exercising it on a regular basis) or collapsing into bed to take a much-needed nap.
And yes, that would be why I haven't exactly made good on my promise to post a new blog entry every few days.
To give you an idea of how little time I actually have during a typical day, here's my schedule from yesterday:
8:30 - 9:30 a.m.: "1st" Feed** -- Milo eats for 29 minutes, has one diaper change.
9:30 - 10:26 a.m.: Milo, awake, demands to be entertained. E.g., "Show the window! Now the mirror! Now the black and white spiral thingy! Now hold me! No, put me down! Burp me! Not on your lap, over your shoulder! Now put me down and show me the window again, or else I shall scream!"
10:26 - 10:50 a.m.: 2nd Feed - Milo eats for 22 minutes and has two diaper changes.
10:50 - 11:55 a.m.: Milo pretends to sleep for twenty minutes, then wakes up, has his diaper changed, then demands to be entertained. Mama grabs some much-needed food and scarfs it down with one hand while holding Milo with the other.
11:55 a.m.- 12:19 p.m.: 3rd Feed - Milo eats for 24 minutes, has his diaper changed.
12:19 - 2:00 p.m.: Milo naps. The world rejoices! Mama takes a much-needed nap that lasts for 90 minutes or so.
2:00 p.m.: Milo wakes up. Mama wakes up as well and cries upon realizing that her day is half over and all she's managed to do is eat breakfast and take a nap.
2:00 - 3:00 p.m.: 4th Feed - Milo eats for 30 minutes and has his diaper changed twice
3:00 - 5:15 p.m.: Milo naps. Mom and Dad take Milo and Nell doggie on a long walk to the video store because the midwife said that babies who spend time outside between 12:00 and 5:00 will sleep longer at night. Mom and Dad have their fingers crossed.
5:15 - 5:45 p.m.: 5th Feed - Milo eats for 20 minutes and has his diaper changed.
5:45 - 6:16 p.m.: Milo is awake and feeling fussy. Mama and Daddy do everything they can to entertain Milo, but he soon makes it clear that all he wants is more time on the boob. Mom gives in, convinced she must be doing something wrong because according to the Baby Whisperer, "NO baby needs to eat more than once every two-three hours." Daddy curses the Baby Whisperer, says she doesn't know what she's talking about.
6:16 - 6:49 p.m.: 6th Feed - Milo eats for 20 minutes, has his diaper changed.
6:49 - 7:30 p.m.: Milo remains awake and fussy. Mama cries because nothing she does makes Milo happy and therefore she concludes she must be a horrible mother. Daddy consoles Mama, conceals his growing fear that his wife is going insane. He considers hiding the kitchen knives.
7:30 - 9:00 p.m.: Milo naps. The world rejoices! Then Mama feels horribly guilty about the fact that she seems to like her baby better asleep than awake and concludes that she must be a horrible mother. Daddy sighs, rolls eyes, decides that yes, he really should hide those knives. Then they eat dinner and both feel slightly better. The chocolate ice cream with chocolate sauce certainly helps.
9:00 - 9:30 p.m.: 7th Feed. Milo eats for 20 minutes.
9:30 p.m. - 11:38 p.m.: Milo naps. Mama goes to sleep at 10:30, praying Milo will sleep until well past midnight. Milo chooses to do otherwise.
11:38 p.m.- 12:30 a.m.: 8th Feed. Milo eats for 28 minutes, keeps falling asleep on boob. Mama wonders why on earth he woke up in the first place. Milo's diaper is changed once.
12:30 - 2:20 a.m.: Milo naps. Mama prays he'll sleep until 3:30, allowing Mama to enjoy a full three hours of sleep. Milo wakes up before even hitting the two-hour mark.
2:20 - 3:10 a.m.: 9th Feed. Milo eats for 23 minutes, keeps falling asleep on boob, which in turn keeps falling asleep on Milo. Mama recalls midwife assuring her that if Milo spends time outside between 12:00 - 5:00, he'll sleep longer at night, and rolls her eyes, thinking, "Yeah, right!" She vows to move his crib to the back porch as soon as the sun comes up. Milo's diaper is changed twice.
3:10 - 4:55 a.m.: Milo naps. Mama prays he'll sleep until 6:00, allowing Mama to enjoy a full three hours of sleep. Milo wakes up before even hitting the two-hour mark. Mama thinks, "What the HELL???" [Milo HAD been sleeping 3-4 hours a stretch at night, you see... now Milo is not. This makes Mama very sad.]
4:55 - 6:00 a.m.: 10th Feed. Milo eats for a whopping 38 minutes, making his mother fear a vomit of volcanic proportions, which thankfully decides to remain dormant.
6:00 - 8:30 a.m.: Milo naps, giving Mom her longest period of sleep in 24 hours. A whole two and a half hours! Thank you, O munificent one! Thank you!
So there you have it... A day in the life of a new mom. If you do the math, you'll see that I spent a total of seven hours yesterday trying to stuff food in my little boy's belly. Seven hours anchored to a chair, with a snorting baby clamped to my chest. As you can see, it doesn't leave me with a whole lot of time to do anything else these days.
People keep on telling me it'll get better... that Milo will soon start sleeping for longer stretches of time, and will be able to conform to a regular three-hour feeding and sleeping schedule. Sounds great! Looking forward to it! But could someone please fill me in on exactly WHEN I can expect this miracle to happen???
And heads up to all you guys whose girlfriends or wives might be getting a little antsy to have kids - you owe me one! Just show them this little blog entry and their biological clocks will almost certainly reset themselves to snooze mode. No need to thank me, just send over some home-cooked meals. Or maybe you could come over and sweep my floors. And the bathroom could use a good once-over. Yeah, that's the ticket. I would give you my address but my boobs are telling me it's time to feed the kid again and lo and behold, what do I hear in the background, but the hungry squawks of the tiny tyrant who rules my world.
Coming, O lord and master...
** It's actually quite laughable to call any feed a "first" feed, when the 24-hour cycle of clamping babe to boob is never ending...