It’s been a long time since I visited this website. So long that I thought about skipping town and pretending to forget this thing ever existed. I could start up again on a shiny, new site, maybe start blogging about something totally fresh like how to make your own household cleaners from pinecones and dust bunnies or how about the opposite of fresh like why Trader Joe’s keeps selling me rotten foods? Yesterday I purchased a delicious looking stilton and peach chardonnay cheese only to discover today that it was totally rancid. (Admittedly it’s kind of hard to tell when stilton goes bad but still.) Couple that with the bag of soggy butter lettuce and moldy heirloom tomatoes also purchased and you have a delicious E. coli salad.
How have you all been? Good? Me too. Well, mostly. Things are a tad different now. Why you ask? It’s same reason why I’ve been neglecting this poor website.
There’s a baby among us. My baby.
A baby! Yes, a human baby! I know, right? Still hard to fathom. On most days I feel like I’m this kid’s babysitter but then I wonder what kind of irresponsible parent would hire me to babysit their infant? Even after nearly six months it hasn’t totally sunk in that he’s my child. That’s my flesh and blood over there drooling on the hardwood floors and eating his toes? Maybe it would help if he looked liked me. Or his dad. Right now he’s a cross between Bart’s dad and my brother as a baby. Weird how genes get selected. Like he just swam past mommy’s and went straight for Uncle Mike? Well, Uncle Mike does have long lashes and exceptionally good skin.
So please don’t feel neglected. It’s been a long time since I visited any website other than TheBump.com or Whyismybabydoingthat.com. Turns out everyone on the interwebs is an expert in how to parent your baby. Sometimes that’s actually a relief. Good for you! I want to tell them. You take the reigns and parent my child! I’m just going to lay down right here on this pile of brick chips and take a little snooze. Oh god, sleep. I remember sleeeeeeeeeepppppppppppppppssgjidkliroedfklgorfgogolgfdkl;gfdlgkflgfgl;
Whoa. What happened? Sorry about that. I swear I just shut my eyes for a second. Allow me to wipe this drool from the keyboard and get back on topic. What were we talking about? Oh right, the experts. I’m not above soliciting or accepting advice. You never know what nugget you might receive that suddenly nets you four uninterrupted hours of shut eye one night or prevents you from feeding your kid honey before they’re twenty-three years old (lest you give them botulism!) or whatever the rule is these days. I promise to not just post things about babies. Jeez. Those people are sooooooooo annoying. But I do have a few good stories I might have to share. Babies are pretty good fodder as it turns out. And now that I am once again a person on the interwebs, that makes me an expert who can officially spew advice about how to raise other people’s children. Yay! Where shall we start?
If anyone out there is anticipating the arrival of their first child, please allow me to give you this piece of unsolicited advice. It was by far the best I got (and trust me, this will be your mantra those first few days.)
It gets better.
First, allow me to apologize to all those experienced parents I silently mocked when they told us how unbelievably challenging this would be. Yeah, okay, I thought. It’s just a baby! If you can’t boss a baby around who can you boss around?
But wow. Wow, wow, wow. I wouldn’t wish those first two weeks on a housewife of New Jersey. I was flat out terrified of this 7 pound, 6 ounce mass. Sometimes when I’m wide awake at night wondering when the next “MY BINKIE FELL OUT OF MY MOUTH HOLE” alarm is going to go off, I think back to the day we left the hospital. Bart went to get the car and I stayed behind in the lobby with Quinn who was sound asleep in his car seat. Holy hell, I. Was. Terrified. Like Space-Mountain-terrified. Like accidentally-seeing-how-much-I-weighed-four-days-before-giving-birth-terrified. Like accidentally-seeing-how-much-I-weighed-four-days-after-giving-birth-terrified.
Oh god, I thought, please don’t let this baby wake up! I had no idea what to do with him if he did. Then this father and little boy came through the automatic double doors and the kid was all energy and enthusiasm. Poor kid was probably on his way to visit his beloved grandma who just made a miraculous deathbed recovery. Perhaps it was the bouquet of balloons he gripped in his tiny hand, but this kid’s exurberance was literally lifting him off the ground. I looked at that child who barely four years ago was probably at the feet of his terrified mother, tucked in a car seat in this very lobby waiting to make his first pilgrimage home and all I could think was, make a sound and I will take those balloons and shove them so far up your bad-touch zone, you’ll be picking latex out of your braces for the next six years. Yes, that’s right. The fear of my own child caused me to threaten (albeit silently) bodily harm on another child. Where the heck was Child Protection Services when you needed them?
I came home on drugs so powerful they made me hallucinate (I swear Zelda was in the hospital with us) and so scared to close my eyes because I knew as soon as I did Quinn would cry and I’d have to do something. Feed him? Change him? Warm him? Hold him? How would we know what to do? Bart and I both became phobic of the night because sleep was so tenuous and we were so exhausted we were terrified we would sleep through a feeding, which would lead to another of the 683 ways your baby could just drop dead. (Remind me to tell you about those infant CPR classes we took. Scared straight, I tell you.) Horrible to ponder but what else does a new parent really think about in the middle of the night?
In those early days, I found myself clinging to a beacon of hope– my friend Suzie’s text. She sent an innocent congratulatory message after Quinn was born that said, “Good luck. You’ll do great. I thought the first two weeks were the hardest.”
I clung to those words like lyrca to a Kardashian. Two weeks, Suzie said. It was hard for Suzie and she was a prosecutor for goodness sake! It’s not just me! Surely I can get through two weeks. I don’t know if she was right or if I manifested the tiny beam of proverbial sunlight that shone down on us 14 days postpartum. (Didn’t hurt that it was around that time my parents came to visit. God bless the grandparents!) The point is, it is hard. And for anyone who doesn’t have a text from Suzie to cling to, allow me to give you hope. Those first two weeks suck. They are the hardest. Take it from someone who was there 5 and a half months ago. I shudder to think. You will not know yourself. You will seriously contemplate not doing things like brushing your teeth because you could use those two and a half minutes for sleeping. You will think you’re broken and doomed and a menace to your child because you don’t feel exactly the way the websites and books and hospital birthing classes said you would feel. You wonder if you’ll ever see your friends let alone the inside of a Target again. You can not figure out how one tiny being could be so much work, could take up so much time, could beat you down so very much. You will feel like you’re trapped on a Japanese game show where you have been tossed a wet, slippery baby and told to keep that baby warm, dry and fed for an indefinite amount of time. And the prize? You get to keep doing it! For-freakin’-ever.*
So yep, it’s hard. If it’s not, time to get off the hallucinogenic drugs. It is also terrifying. And weird. And life-altering and core-shaking and mind-blowingly exhausting. And then suddenly it’s also amazing.
One day when you go to get your baby who has woken up from a nap, you realize this one-sided relationship has changed. This creature does know who you are. And they prove it by smiling. That’s when you begin to figure out how babies have managed to survive all this time.
I know I’m not the babysitter, but I still don’t know myself. I have become someone who just wants to talk about her child. I want to look at the 983 pictures of him on my phone and listen to the voice memos of him laughing. I text my mom a picture and then immediately call her so we can analyze his every detail like cytologists studying stem cells. I forgo Facebook or back episodes of The Bachelor in favor of watching his tiny ribcage move up and down on the baby monitor. I can’t wait to get home from work so we can lay on the circus-themed blanket I got at a garage sale for $1.50 and shake maracas while we play with our feet and tell each other about our days. Charlie ate carrots? Ingrid lost a sock? Mr. Eric read you a story? I enjoy spending time with a baby. Who am I? I do not know this person but it looks like she’s sticking around so we may have to get used to her.
And yes, she welcomes your advice. You are also people of the interwebs.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a baby to oogle on the monitor. Back in eighteen years.
*Please note, if you do not feel any of these things, don’t worry! That’s totally normal too! Feel what you feel and go with it! It gets soooooooo much better!