Friday, April 29, 2011

musings on motherhood

Charlie had his two-month appointment yesterday! (That's a shot of us a few days earlier on Easter morning.) He's up to 23 inches and 12 pounds, just over the 50th percentile. At the one-month mark, he was lingering around the 25th percentile. Clearly, he has some serious growth aspirations. He also received a slew of vaccinations, resulting in an elevated temperature and an incredible bout of grogginess. So I've tossed him into the Ergo, put the computer on a higher surface, and returned to the blog!

It goes without saying that I've been less awesome at updating the blog since Charlie's arrival. One post? Pitiful. All the more pitiful in light of the two-month milestone. Two months! When I try to reflect on what's happened since his arrival, it's like peering into pea soup. But I have some general thoughts on motherhood that I feel compelled to share. And to help keep my frazzled mind straight, I'm going to group them into neat categories. I like things tidy.

Let's start with the positive, shall we? Things I LOVE about motherhood:
- Charlie's smell. Brad describes it as soured breastmilk, but I think it's the sweetest. Perhaps that's why I do not feel compelled to give him a bath more than once a week. Holy cow baths are a production.
- Speaking of baths, I love holding him when he's naked. Which only happens right before and after baths, given the high risk of getting a stream of pee in the eye. Maybe it reminds me of holding him right after he was born. I just love the feel of his soft skin.
- When he is crying and seems inconsolable until I hold him to my chest and he calms down immediately. I realize this is the root of that problem the mother had in the Sixth Sense where you keep your child sick so you can be their constant caretaker. No worries. I'm on the lookout for crazy.
- Getting him to smile. I discovered a little game with the pacifier which gets him to smile 50% of the time. It makes me giggle.
- Kissing his cheeks like an affectionate monster. Sometimes it makes him happy. Sometimes it makes him mad. Regardless, I am undeterred.
- Less sweet and sentimental, but I love the customer service offered by baby product companies. Our Summer Infant monitor developed a green static feature this week, which turns Charlie into a murky green ghost. I spent two minutes trying to fix the problem before calling the company. Spoke with the rep for less than five minutes before she gleefully told me they would replace the entire system. Huh? Seems companies are not eager to mess with moms.
- Dance parties. Charlie is clearly Brad's son. No matter how angry or weepy or fussy he is, if I turn up the music and dance with him, he calms down immediately. Kid loves music. Even the Glee soundtracks, which have been in heavy rotation. But that part of him is all me.

There are oodles of other things I love, but I've learned that a sleeping baby is a ticking time bomb. So I'll move on. Next! Things I don't hate, surprisingly.
- The cloth diaper regime. Breast milk poop is hella runny (it gets on the shells as well as the soaker inserts), so we do a lot of diaper laundry. Wait. Not we. Me. I do a lot of diaper laundry. At least once every 36 hours. But I don't mind doing it. In fact, it's one of the things that makes me feel marginally productive. Ditto on the many loads of baby laundry and the infrequent loads of grownup laundry. If I had more than five nursing tanks, the grownup laundry would sit for weeks. And Brad would get to see the bottom of his massive t-shirt drawer.
- Pumping. Honestly. I don't mind pumping. Granted, I only do it once or twice a day. But pumping is awesome because it promises "me time." Pumping lets me sleep an extra hour or two in the middle of the night while Brad feeds him, it lets me take baths before bed, it lets me run errands which were once a drag but are now the bomb. Solo trips to Target? It's like a spa day.
- Discovering dried spit up in my hair at the end of the day. Huge globs. It makes me laugh. I think if I discovered the globs while wet, it would be another story. But I find it thoroughly amusing that I can go an entire day without looking in a mirror long enough to see the foreign masses in my hair. Nice to have my priorities in order.
- Similarly, I don't mind wearing clothes that are covered in pee and/or spit-up. It's a miracle I manage to dress myself once each day (it's 10:30 and I'm still in my pajamas). Twice? Haha. Not gonna happen. Best to embrace it.

On the flip side, there are a couple things that I expected to love that I decidedly do not.
- Tiny clothes. Oh, how my heart swelled the first time I organized Charlie's tiny clothes. And then when we had to acquire a bunch of even tinier newborn clothes? Swoon. But that wore off quickly. It is really hard to fold tiny clothes. And there are so many snaps! I love dressing the kid, and his drawers are still relatively organized, but I am oh so tempted to adopt a system of storing his clothes in a huge pile.
- Hanging out at home all of the time. Due to the immune system limitations and the spring fail that we've been experiencing in Chicago, we spend way more time at home that I would like. Pre-baby, I loved nothing more than spending an entire Sunday indoors. I cherished sick days on the couch, championed laziness. No longer. I have had enough of this apartment. Daytime TV leaves a lot to be desired. I'm giving Charlie a couple days to kick the immunization shots side effects, and then we are going to be errand-running fools. Hooray two-month mark! Trader Joes, here we come! And we are returning to church this weekend. I cannot wait.

And now, for the things that I hate about motherhood. The things that make my head spin out of control and make me want to scream.
- Leaking boobs and breast pads. I hate both. I was shopping for a nursing dress with my sister a few weeks back, and I dared to take off my nursing tank to try on a strapless number. Big mistake. Huge. No sooner than I had the dress on did my boobs pull a Niagara Falls number. Breast milk was everywhere. On me, on Caty, on Caty's purse, on the dress. At least it made my purchasing decision easy. So the pads are a necessity, but they make me batty. When they work, they are fabulous. But the adhesive is far from reliable. And somehow my boobs shift at night. The pads will be perfectly centered when I am standing up, but when I lie down, they are always a centimeter away from the danger zone. Resulting in soaked pjs and an angry Robin. Grrr.
- Stinky armpits. Man do my armpits reek. I'll admit that I use natural deodorant, and that it's my decision to stick with it. But I offend. I should probably shower more often. But see next point.
- The dreaded damp bathrobe and wet hair. It's been two months and I'm still learning how to keep myself clean and marginally presentable. The weekends are heavenly. Brad can take Charlie and I can spend a half hour in the bathroom doting on myself. But the weekdays are a mess. I shower every other day, and even that schedule is hard to maintain. I put Charlie in the swing as soon as he nods off in the morning. (Hooray for the swing and huge thanks to Beth and Geoff for loaning it to us. Such a sanity saver.) Most days, he will sleep in the swing for well over an hour, sometimes two. But on shower days, he gives me enough time to take a quick shower and brush my teeth. And then the screaming commences. Doesn't happen every time, but more than once I've found myself rocking Charlie, begging him to fall back asleep, while wearing a wet bathrobe and a drenched towel on my head. Hour three of this ensemble makes me want to shave my head.
- Diaper leaks. People, I love cloth diapering. Truly, I do. I don't run out of diapers, I feel like I'm giving the earth a hug, and they are cute. But for the last week they have leaked every night without fail. Usually multiple times. And it makes me CRAZY. We are getting together with Meghan, Sam and Jane this afternoon, and I'm going to beg her to show me how to properly diaper my son. Perhaps I am doing something wrong. If not, we may be using disposables at night. My advance apologies to the earth.
- Congestion. Poor Charlie is horribly congested at least once a day. It always triggers a crying fit, yet somehow it takes me 30 minutes to figure out the reason for the fit. I hate you baby congestion. You make an otherwise content baby super miserable. You are lucky someone invented the snot sucker. I love the snot sucker. It's gross to watch, but damn effective. Hooray for the snot sucker. And for misting saline. So far superior to the infant saline drops.
- Tummy time. Tummy time is Charlie's least favorite activity. He hates it even more than he hates infant saline drops. He screams the entire time. He's supposed to get 20 minutes of tummy time every day. We're not even close. I just can't watch him suffer for that long. The pediatrician suggested rolling him over when he's already upset about something as he might find tummy time soothing. Trying that now. No dice. It's only making it hard for Charlie to figure out exactly why he is frantically crying.

Enough complaining. In an effort to end on a positive note, here are a few things that I thank God for on a daily basis.
- Katie & N. One of my best friends, Katie, gave birth to beautiful N three weeks after I delivered Charlie. We spend a lot of time doing new mom things in each other's company. Breastfeeding, soothing crying babies, dance partying. She is happy to talk baby anytime. I know I can text her in the middle of the night with my latest gripe, and she will listen and respond with understanding. It is so comforting to have a partner in crime for this madness of new motherhood. Not sure how I'd do it without her.
- In-unit laundry. Hallelujah.
- Brad. He is an amazing dad. He has the patience and heart of an angel. We have divided the nights into two shifts. I take care of the first changing and feeding, and he tackles the second. But once or twice a week I lose my mind in the middle of the night. I pick up Charlie to find he's leaked like a politician, drenching himself and his bedding. I make it to the changing table where he starts screaming like a banshee and doing everything in his power to make it impossible for me to put on a new diaper. While I'm nursing him he refuses to latch and when he does, he bites me. And just when he's drifting off, he spits up an unimaginable amount of curdled milk while simultaneously filling his diaper back up. And my sanity exits left. But I know I can go into the bedroom, set him down next to Brad, and take a breather. When I return, Brad is calmly soothing Charlie back to sleep. After he comforts Charlie, he turns his attention to me. Brad has yet to lose his cool. He is amazing. Lucky Charlie, lucky me.


  1. What a great picture of you and charlie! And dont feel bad-- we are back to 7th gen at night. 13 hours is too long for a cloth diaper, i think. Fun hanging out tonight! Sorry i was grumpy.


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