Thursday, August 27, 2009

iterative development

Here is what I have learned in the last four weeks: the first month, all you will do is feed the baby, change the baby, and try to sleep. Seriously. Over and over and over and over and over again. If you do anything beyond these parameters, it is a fucking miracle. This is especially true for people who are single parents, or for people whose partners have to return to work right away.

With the help of our massive supporting cast, we have done some other things. Thanks to spook's job, which allowed him to be home (with the exception of a few days) until this week, we managed quite a bit of the housework. (We also had volunteers do some of our laundry and dishes.) Thanks to being strongly motivated to not go crazy, we went for a lot of walks, both to calm the baby and to get ice cream. Thanks to fairy godmother Jenny, we got a chance to go out to dinner, just the two of us. So I'm not trying to discourage you, folks who do not have kids, so much as telling you to keep your expectations super-low and then congratulate yourselves like mad on every small achievement. It feels much better that way.

This first week by myself is interesting so far. It's a lot less possible to get things done when there isn't a second set of hands around--and I'm cheating, because once again fairy godmother Jenny steps in so that I get to eat lunch. Lunch which she makes for me. I am completely spoiled. But today I count as a victory that I was able to take a shower, something which has previously only been possible when spook is home because it breaks my heart to put Jake down if he's crying, even for five minutes to get clean. But y'know, showers are awesome, especially at such a sticky time. (Not ten minutes goes by without me getting some substance all over me--drool, breastmilk, toast crumbs, and--rarely but unpleasantly--poop.)

My mind feels a little bit gone, although it's actually better than it was early in my pregnancy when I felt so sick all the time that I seemed to have been sublimated by my wretchedness. I do the same repetitive tasks and it's hard to get my brain out of that loop to talk about anything else, so I hate listening to myself, because even though I kinda knew I was going to be one of those people who's all the baby the baby the baby, I didn't want to be. And gradually, I guess, I won't be. There are non-baby activities in my life, even if a lot of them occur simultaneously with breastfeeding: watching HBO's Rome and the NFL preseason, playing Scrabble, visiting with friends. Today I'm going to rent National Geographic's documentary about the Romans in Britain. (Yes, it's a kick I'm on, all right?) It will mean a walk in the beautiful fall weather and a chance to look around at the slightly wider world. Baby steps.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

safely back in the world

"my heart's not new
I'm not like you
I've loved and been loved
well and badly too
my body's been
through everything
I've used and been used
I got over it
there's something that you learn on a tightrope
just outside the spotlight,
there's a big net waiting"
Tanya Donelly
I'm Keeping You

I'm listening to my son making little sighing noises in his sleep. It's been three and a half days, and I still can't quite believe he's here. I probably do not have time to tell you about his birth before he wakes up, but I can tell you that it was one of the most challenging and most rewarding experiences of my life, that spook showed me a depth of devotion and care that I can still hardly fathom, that although I was terrified that it would somehow be too much for me to cope with, it was not. And now he's here with me.