Friday, July 24, 2015
every month seems to be better than the month that preceded it, this one being no exception. in fact, i think i enjoyed month 3 more than i did the first two months combined. together, we are finally finding our groove, and the groove is very, very good.
you are still a decent sleeper, going down each night for 12 hours and waking 2-3 times to nurse, though you have taught me not to get too comfortable with this schedule by throwing in some terrible nights of wakefulness as well, sometimes a few in a row, to remind me that your new normal will always remain a moving target.
what has been new and steady this month is your fascination with your own body. you will stare at your hands until your eyes cross, examining them for several hours a day. and when you catch a glimpse of your feet, you are equally amazed that these flippers are attached to you, almost like leeches, with your face registering a concern as if you're deciding whether you should keep them.
i have no doubt you would, because having your feet played with has become something of an obsession for you. during diaper changes and pretty much any other time you can swing it, you will push them into my hands or stomp them along my arms.
as your dutiful servant, i then rub, kiss and nibble on them while also pushing on their various spheres per some (probably bogus) baby reflexology foot chart i found on the Web. you have allowed me to do this for up to an hour. nothing else has maintained your interest so long. yes, baby's first fetish is feet. weirdo.
you have also become highly aware of my body, particularly my hands, which you will seek out with your own, placing them on top of mine as if to ask me not to stop touching you. this pleases me to no end as i am hell-bent on making you affectionate. both your father and i came from very affectionate households, so you are routinely being smothered with kisses, cuddles, raspberries and tickles until you become a vibrating, fleshy giggle machine. you have never once pulled away.
part of your bedtime routine involves "naked time," when i keep you naked on your changing pad for about 15 minutes. i spend that time talking to you, telling you how soundly you will sleep that night and how much i enjoyed our day together. then i massage your body, making sure to "teepee the peepee" so i don't get a golden shower in the process. (i learned about that part the hard way.)
you spend that time alternating between squeals of delight and screams of overtired frustration. we are at about 75% delight / 25% screams, so i've been more diligent about enforcing your naps during the day, putting you to bed every 90 minutes to avoid your meltdowns at the witching hour.
to be honest, i often squeal with delight at your bedtime, too, because there are many days when i am just tired of your shit, kid. no one would accuse you of being a good-natured baby. and no one will believe me when i say this because of the many smiley photos of you i post on facebook and instagram. to them, i say "come over and hang out with me for 12 hours."
my mom laughs that karma is being served. apparently, i was terrible baby who probably would have been drowned in the river had i been born in a different era. i spent most of my babyhood sick, unknowningly allergic to my bedding, so anytime someone placed me in my crib, i had trouble breathing. naturally, i screamed until i was picked up again.
this went on for about 3.5 years, until we immigrated to the United States and doctors visits revealed my severe allergy to feathers, which were stuffed into every soviet pillow and blanket — but not in that inviting goose comforter type of way. the soviet way overstuffed a feather pillow until it felt like a sack of potatoes.
thankfully, you are not sickly but you are pretty screamy, especially when you have to endure the slightest discomfort, whether it be staying strapped in your carseat more than you like or having to feel hunger for more than 30 seconds. patience does not seem to be your strong suit. but just as quickly as your screaming fits come, they leave, replaced with a beautiful gummy grin that erases my memory and keeps me as your bumbling fool.
at 10 weeks, we took you in for your two-month wellness checkup. the doctor said you looked fine but needed more belly time as your head was flattening on one side, the result of "torticollis," which keeps your head cocked to the left, probably the result of your positioning in the womb. so now you are getting more belly time and neck-stretching exercises to keep your wonky head upright.
speaking of your head, it's big, like 90th percentile big (so glad i ended up with a C-section). hopefully, this is a result of the big brain that will win you a college scholarship since money doesn't grow on trees, kid. your weight was in the 75th percentile, length in the 55th, making you one stocky baby.
at that checkup, you received your first set of vaccinations. before the nurse administered them (one shot in each leg), she looked at me and asked, "are you going to be ok, mom?" i told her she should direct that question at dad, who had been uneasy about the shots all day and stood gripping a buddhist talisman. we both looked over at him. "i can't be here," he said and walked out.
so i put my face close to yours and told you it would only hurt for a second. you cried at the moment of injection but settled down right after with a bit of nursing. then you developed a small fever, which had me uneasy and waking up in the middle of the night to check on you.
the fever lasted only 24 hours, but reminded me of the terrible truth about parenthood -- that i will never be able to fully protect you from harm despite the fact that this is what i want to do more than anything. this whole thing had me feeling silly, as your fever was minor and expected, the first of many hiccups in your health, i'm sure, with future ones sure to be more disruptive.
i had to sit down afterward and have a long talk with myself, something i've been doing often since becoming your mother (and your father's wife). the talk involves telling myself to keep steady and calm down, to stay focused and present, to not be submerged by the new parent anxiety i thought i would be above but am falling victim to.
i will get past it, with your help, of course. you are a big help already, offering me that gummy goodness in just the right moment. that does plenty to chase away the anxiety, rendering the long nights of no rest after a long day of nonstop crying irrelevant. it is a gift i am always happy to receive, the more often the better. thank you for it.
Wednesday, July 08, 2015
i don’t remember acknowledging a birthday less than i acknowledged this one. or maybe didn’t acknowledge it. there were no parties nor dinners with friends, their treat, no hangovers nor forced, week-long, self-indulgent celebrations. the day arrived quickly, quietly, and left just as unassumingly, made special only by the evening massage Warren had scheduled for me.
of course, i blame the lack of fanfare entirely on my son, whose nickname lately has been “buzzkiller.” not that i mind the diversion. at 39, i think it’s time to put away the titty tops and hangovers. i don’t want to be That Woman of a Certain Age slurring her words and hanging off a barstool.
i prefer a good night’s sleep instead, welcome at any age, though in short supply for me lately. and herein lies my complete transformation into a Parent with a capital P, sleep deprived and whining about it on the internet.
though i’m sure i would be whining much more on this birthday if it had arrived without a crying baby and snoring husband disturbing my sleep. i feel as though the universe has done me a solid by throwing both at me right before i turn 40 to not only help me solidify my future, but also prevent any embarrassing blog posts lamenting my status as the Unlucky in Love Girl destined for a life of barrenness. good looking out, universe.
this year, i feel my usual gratitude for my many blessings, but i also feel an underlying anxiety i have never before known. friends have told me recently that i’m “living the dream” and “have it all,” as though i’ve reached some celebrated finish line where i can finally rest easy with the knowledge that all the hard work is behind me.
but i feel like my work is just about to begin. suddenly, i have a lot to lose. i now have to figure out how to nurture the two most important relationships in my life. and i’ll tell you a little secret, internet, this terrifies me.
i’m sure i’m not alone in my terror. i know that every new parent before me has developed the same awful awareness that every decision we make can ricochet in numerous, unpredictable ways. add to this the decisions involved in being someone’s wife and i’m made doubly uneasy. worst yet is that my current role as my boy’s faithful cow prevents me from drinking vodka to take the edge off.
to steady my blood pressure, i’ve been having many silent conversations with myself (more like lectures). i tell myself to calm my runaway imagination, to be reactive not reactionary, to stay grounded in logic and reality. and the reality is that we’re ok, we’re fine. that’s what i keep telling myself in those moments of needless panic, when the anxiety bubbles out of my brain and paralyzes my entire body. we’re ok, we’re fine. just keep working on it.
in those quiet moments at 3am when i nurse my son in his room, his fragile body pressed into mine, his warm breath landing against my skin, i’m working on it. and when i return to bed to lie next to my sleeping husband, his outline barely perceptible in the darkened room, i’m working on it. my world in those two bodies, so irrecoverably intertwined with the fiber of my being, yet somehow still not close enough to offer constant protection.
i know i need to relax. i know i need to let go of the things i can’t control and trust life to take care of me in the way it always has in the past.
i’m working on it.