Dear Babby, Month 1

In homage to the mid-early days of Dooce.

Dear Baby,

Congratulations (mostly TO ME), my tiny daughter; on February 28, you turned one entire month old AND I SURVIVED. You were born on the same day as your beloved maternal great-grandfather Stanton, who would have been 100 if he were still alive. Then after what felt like five seconds of blurry exhaustion and diapey changes, the entire month of February elapsed and now you have morphed from squishy little terrifying (and terrified) tadpole to giant fat one-month-old who is starting to bear an ever so slight resemblance to a human being, albeit a tiny one who seems to have a starter case of bulimia.

Our first family photo (and possibly our only one?), where I am too hopped up from C-section drugs to fully process that I HAVE A DAUGHTER NOW HOLY SHIT. Luckily your dad just started bawling immediately, so *someone* cared.
Our first family photo (and possibly our only one?), where I am too hopped up from C-section drugs to fully process that I HAVE A DAUGHTER NOW HOLY SHIT. Luckily your dad just started bawling immediately, so *someone* cared.

 

One of the professional photos we got suckered in to buying at the hospital. In this picture she is a DEAD RINGER for my brother when he was a newborn. Like indiscernible from him.
One of the professional photos we got suckered in to buying at the hospital. In this picture you are a DEAD RINGER for your Uncle Ben.
Another pro photo; this time she is a dead ringer for my husband.
Another pro photo; this time a dead ringer for Dad.
This is my favorite of all the hospital photos because she still has her babby burglar alarm on. In these pics she is about two days old I think, maybe three? All the hospital days blur together in a blurry blur of drugs and grilled cheese sandwiches.
This is my favorite of all the hospital photos because you still have your babby burglar alarm on. In these pics you are about two days old I think, maybe three? All the hospital days blur together in a blurry blur of drugs and grilled cheese sandwiches.
Precursor to the naughty smile you see below, minus the ten new chins from thirty-one straight days of chowing down nonstop.
Precursor to the naughty smile you see below, minus the ten new chins from thirty-one straight days of chowing down nonstop.
One month later. What may or may not be an actual smile, plus an excellent case of baby acne. You are the teenager of babies.
One month later. What may or may not be an actual smile, plus an excellent case of baby acne. You are the teenager of babies.

Your hobby palette has grown a tad bit more sophisticated in your month of life — when we first brought you home, your main interests were cluster-feeding for the entirety of your waking hours (you do NOT want to know what my poor shredded boobs looked like during that time) and screaming your goddamned head off every time we attempted to do anything to keep you from drowning in your own filth or freezing to death. Nowadays, you reserve screaming bloody murder during diapey changes for the few instances I’ve been inconsiderate enough not to tank you up beforehand, and your interests include:

Staring at “your shapes,” the homemade black and white decals I made for the wall above your changing table; stripes, stars, clouds, squiggles, diamonds, polka dots, a swirling vortex, arrows, a sunburst and checkers. You have a marked preference for the checkers, and your dad especially enjoys holding you up in front of them while you stare rapt. He says that you prefer the checkers because they bring order to your little life of chaos.

Holding your big fat noggin up all by yourself like some sort of 3-month-old grown-up, until you remember that you are indeed still a newborn and, even while I am doing my level best to support it, unleashing a juggernaut of a faceplant directly at whatever part of my clavicle is the boniest. One day last week you planted so hard that you bonked your little schnozz and it is the first time I’ve heard you cry in pain since your Vitamin K shot in the hospital, and it pierced my heart and made me die about a thousand times. Luckily you’re a newborn baby so I stuck a tit in your face and you forgot all about it immediately.

Attempting to suffocate yourself at every possible opportunity. Right this second I am afforded the ability to type with both hands because and only because you are sacked out on my chest, basically living every frat guy’s weird MILF dream by motorboating your food containers. You often fall asleep during one of your marathon nursing sessions, and your favorite way to do it is to detach from my boob (usually with “help” — another of your favorite activities is to sleep-nurse, which is basically to pass out on the titty but keep feebly sucking JUST ENOUGH so that you let me know you’re still eating. You’re the baby equivalent of that annoying friend everyone has who hasn’t touched their restaurant food in twenty minutes but every time the server comes to clear it, insists “I’m still working on it THANKS”). Anyway, your favorite way to sack out after getting milk-drunk is to just burrow into my abdomen and let my giant boob fall down on to your head. It’s the baby equivalent of passing out in someone’s hedges and insisting you’re FINE THERE THANKS. To this day I have no idea how your tiny little nose finds the air during these moments, but I’ve stopped trying to fight it because you’re still alive.

Raising your hilarious little arms in the world’s tiniest victory salute every time you get the use of them returned to you — TEMPORARILY — after a night of swaddling.

Getting all turnt up during your “witching hour(s),” which start at about 6 p.m. and continue until you fall asleep for the night, which you will still only do on top of my chest. In order to keep you alive whilst openly defying pediatrician’s orders not to bed-share (I really wish they’d be a little less hardline about that by the way — EVERYONE bed-shares a little bit but most people are too chickenshit to admit it; if only we all just admitted it and told our pediatricians THEY are welcome to try to put our tiny, cold, helpless little newborn babies in a crib alone after 9 months of being held in the world’s greatest cushiony house 24/7, thank you very much), I have devised a complex system wherein I set you on your back and nestle your big fat head under my chin, and put on seventy layers of clothing so that I keep the big duvet away from you. Anyway, I have recently discovered that the secret to solving your “witching hour” problem is just to put you to bed at 7:30. This means I also get to go to bed at 7:30, which I wanted to do the entire time I was pregnant, so, victory. This also means that your dad gets some well-earned peace and quiet at night where he gets to prepare for class (some of us still have to work, you know) and be a goddamned adult for two seconds. He repays this to me during the day, when he takes you so that *I* can be a goddamned adult for two seconds. Usually this involves going to the toilet and changing my underwear and scarfing down whatever happens to be nearest and then sleeping without a squirmy, giant-noggined infant on my belly for an hour and a half. But every once in awhile I also manage to work a bit on my book — but usually you notice that I am doing something that does not involve giving you my 100 percent undivided attention and start to freak out. The other day I gave you to your dad for TWENTY MINUTES so that I could go outside for the first time in 72 hours and the second — the second — I walked out the door, according to your dad, you went Full Thunderdome. I came home to find him in all-out crisis mode, with his noise-blocking headphones on and a nitrile glove, so that you could suck his little finger with both ferocity and sterility.

Projectile crapping at 4 a.m., with particularly impressive propulsion, spraying everything (and everyone) within a three-foot radius.

In general, with minor 5-minute exceptions for when I have to go to the bathroom and there’s nobody else home, you get held and loved on 24 hours a day, and your every tiny need met immediately, whether that be serenading you with my new favorite YouTube channel, “8 Hours of Vacuum Cleaner Noises,” or nursing you for 6 hours straight. Don’t worry, though — it’ll be payback time when we tell the projectile-shitting story in great detail to your prom date.

Tiny jaundiced little munchkin (that cleared up in like a day because you ate so goddamned much so quickly), plus a mom who has not yet lost 30 pounds in two weeks due to the aforementioned constant chowing down. This is the only quintuple-chin photo any of you motherfuckers will get to see, so enjoy it. Enjoy it.
Tiny jaundiced little munchkin 2 days old (that cleared up in like a day because you ate so goddamned much so quickly), plus a mom who has not yet lost 30 pounds in two weeks due to the aforementioned constant chowing down. This is the only quintuple-chin photo any of you motherfuckers will get to see, so enjoy it. Enjoy it.
Mid-suffocation, under the blankie your friend Sarah made.
Giant one-month old adult. Mid-suffocation, under the blankie your friend Sarah made, and a mother with one chin, ha.

Love,

Your Mom (Me)

 

Month 1: I Am a Dairy Cow with All the Feels

Yes, we are awful cruel parents to capture this moment instead of immediately attending to our daughter's needs. BUT SHE SNORTS LIKE A TRUFFLE PIG WHEN SHE GETS UPSET AND IT IS FUNNY, SORRY NOT SORRY
Yes, we are awful cruel parents to capture this moment instead of immediately attending to our daughter’s needs. BUT SHE SNORTS LIKE A TRUFFLE PIG WHEN SHE GETS UPSET AND IT IS FUNNY, SORRY NOT SORRY

This morning, during a moment of family peace (that was still not quite peaceful enough for anyone to sleep through, and by “anyone” I mean “me”), my husband suggested that I plunge deep into my energy reserves to commit a few thoughts about our earliest days of parenthood to posterity. Those of you who’ve had newborns know exactly what kind of sacrifice this is; in these early days, especially when you are the one with the mammaries, the last thing you are thinking about are the memories. My mother-in-law is visiting and she “suggested” (demanded) yesterday that since neither my husband nor I is on Facebook anymore, we should email her and all of her relatives photos of the babby “every few days.” I cannot possibly find the words in my addled brain to express how low on my priority list that is right now. When I get four minutes to myself each day (and that is often generous) I spend those minutes doing the following, in the following order of urgency:

  1. Going to the bathroom (not to go into too much gory deets, but one of the ugliest side effects of having a C-section is that your plumbing, not in the best of shape during pregnancy, is FUBAR from being manhandled during surgery and, in my case, during the three failed hours of pushing the “old fashioned way” that precipitated the surgery).
  2. Changing my clothes, or at any rate removing the most obviously puke-stained layers
  3. Showering, or at any rate hurriedly rinsing off the non-negotiables (“bathing suit area,” incision)
  4. Eating, which some days I forget to do or am unable to do
BRIEF moments of peace, before/after feedings (they are the same thing).
BRIEF moments of peace, before/after feedings (they are the same thing).

You will notice that “sending a 2001-style email full of attachments” is not on this list. Neither is “write an excellent blog post.” You will notice that “take the garbage out” is also not on this list — that we reserve for the truly luxuriant moments, although it pales in comparison to the ULTIMATE luxury of changing the sheets and washing the duvet cover, which may or may not be covered with a Jackson Pollack array of breast milk spatters and Nystatin (the babby’s thrush medicine — another awesome side effect of having a Cesarean is that you’re pumped full of antibiotics, and in my case have to take even more because your incision gets infected, and thus you get a raging yeast infection on your boobs which makes breastfeeding, already a challenging experience, excruciating, which is especially fun given that your child is an Eric Cartman-level piggie who literally eats non-fucking-stop for most of the 8-12 hours of the day she is awake. At this point she is so fat that her face has morphed from square to trapezoidal.)

Granted, now that we have reached the fourth week of the baby’s life I have become fairly confident that I will not actually spontaneously die of exhaustion or incompetence. There are indeed moments of peace and bliss in our family time, though nothing like this hot mess of a manic episode that went viral shortly before I gave birth and makes me feel like an abject failure as a parent when I skim through it now.

Because fuck if this isn’t the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do — not necessarily because of the difficulty of any individual task (breastfeeding, though painful, is pretty rote, and she has more or less stopped screaming bloody murder during diapey changes now), but because of its sheer Sisyphean relentlessness. Yes, I realize this is a fleeting time, a precious fleeting time that I should cherish because before I know it my daughter will be 12 years old and getting sent to the principal’s office for giving blowjobs behind the gym. I realize this. And I do cherish it, and I cherish her and my husband and I are overcome with emotion and sheer true love for each other and our baby girl every day. For the first week she was home I was convinced I had postpartum depression — I was sobbing a good portion of the day and punctuated said sobs only with the assertion I can’t do it; I don’t think I can do it -- but, a la Wayne in Wayne’s World, who thought he had mono for an entire year, it turns out I was just really fucking tired.

By the babby’s second week of life we had established whatever passes for a routine in a newborn’s day (plus I stopped the Percocet cold turkey, which helped immeasurably), and both of us are sleeping quite a bit more (my husband sometimes sleeps more or less through the night, with only a brief interruption to help with a 3 a.m. butt-blast diapey situation), so things are not quite so dire — but only because we have capitulated fully to the demands of the teeny tiny terrorist in our midst. Hate your $150 “arm’s reach” co-sleeper sidecar and insist, instead, on sleeping nestled onto my chest while I perch up at a 45 degree angle and half-doze terrified that I’m going to drop you? No problem. Need to eat for four hours in a row first thing in the morning before I even get a chance to pee or drink a goddamned sip of water? Here’s all the titties I’ve got, over and over and over again. Entered into your “witching hour,” which coincides exactly with the time existential and physical exhaustion overtakes both of your parents and they must, must, must go to bed? No problem, we will Happiest Baby on the Block you nonstop until you get spacey enough that you forget, momentarily, that the only thing that will please you besides nineteen titties in a row is constant wiggling, shooshing and undivided attention.

So, those are all the memories I can muster for the time being. It took every ounce of mental energy I had just to crap out these subpar sentences (those of you who thought I was a bad writer before I got pregnant, when, I now realize, I was at the top of my fucking game, are going to have a goddamned field day now), so if you think I can muster up a decent conclusion, you are sorely mistaken. Schuman out.*

*by which I DO NOT mean “asleep,” god dammit all to hell.