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:
- 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).
- Changing my clothes, or at any rate removing the most obviously puke-stained layers
- Showering, or at any rate hurriedly rinsing off the non-negotiables (“bathing suit area,” incision)
- Eating, which some days I forget to do or am unable to do
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.