Thursday, June 30, 2011

Discovering life on the other side of pregnancy.

My Collin is six weeks old. It’s hard to imagine he won’t always be this small and babylike. I won’t always be changing his diapers, getting up to nurse him five times every night, and Husband and I won’t always be passing him back and forth like a hot potato every time we sit down to eat dinner. But, alas, he is indeed growing at some kind of crazy warp speed that makes me both excited for the future, and terrified of losing his delicious babyhood. Sometimes, I just want to cling to it, grab at every moment and memory and stuff them all in my pockets so I can pull them out and re-live them over and over again. The way he smiles at me when we wake up in the morning. The way he falls asleep on my shoulder after a long nurse. The way his little baby hiccups make me want to call everyone I know to share them, because surely they must make everyone want to melt as much as they do me.

However, in the same breath, I am also the woman who practically throws the baby at her husband when he walks in the door after work, and Collin will spend so much time swinging in his swing some days, I’m afraid he’ll start calling it mama and trying to nurse off it.

Today was the most productive post-pardom day I’ve had yet. I bathed the baby, cleaned the kitchen, cleaned the living room, folded and put away a load of laundry, took the baby for a walk and helped him get some tummy time, and made a healthy dinner. All of this being done intermittently through feeding, burping, changing, and rocking, or by having the baby strapped to me with the Moby wrap. They say mothers are good multi-taskers... now I know why.  It’s funny, the things they do and do not warn you about post-pardom. They do warn you about the sleep deprivation and  after-delivery soreness. They don’t warn you about how the foot swelling and the hemorrhoids get ten times WORSE after the baby before slowly deciding to get better. They also forget to mention  how your mind can sort of liquefy after a whole day of baby talk and how your wedding ring may never fit you again. Or how there are a ton of support groups in Santa Cruz for new mothers, but in order to get to any of them, you need to be a functional person before ten in the morning; so basically by the time you’re sleeping enough through the night to enjoy them, your baby will be off to college.

Even if they had warned me, I wouldn’t have listened, or cared. Even as I live all the things I was never warned about, it’s hard to care when all I want to do is gaze at this little creature that is my baby.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Discovering six weeks of baby

So Husband and I took Collin to see his doctor today, and let me just say right here, loud and proud, that everything is FINE. Our baby was given a clean bill of health, and we were told to stay off the Internet.

No guarantees, doc, but we’ll try to keep our freak-outs to a minimum next time. In our defense, this is our first time panicking at the pediatrician’s over something normal, which I think is pretty good for first-time parents.

In other news, Collin will be six weeks old tomorrow, which means I will have reached the point where my nether regions are supposed to have shriveled back to a near-normal size, and I can begin an exercise regimen. I like to think of the baby weight that I’ve gained as a badge of honor, like coming home dirty and wounded from war. It proves I gave it my all.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Discovering a parent's worst nightmare.

When I decided to become a parent and start trying for a baby, there were a lot of things going through my mind. Sure, there were risks involved, especially considering I have epilepsy and I take medications. But the research we did and consultations with my doctor assured me the risks were minimal, and the odds were that I would have a healthy child. Besides, I told myself, if my child had some kind of disability, so what? Both my husband and I made our careers working with people with disabilities. We were comfortable with it.

But then, yesterday, I noticed a strange ridge on the side of Collin’s head. I pointed it out to my husband, who shrugged it off as normal and suggested I do the same. But today, it was bigger, taking up more of him, like he was somehow wearing a headband beneath his scalp.

What is that thing?

So we did some research, which any new parent can probably attest to be the worst possible thing you can do when you’re wondering if something is wrong with your child, because you WILL uncover the most rare, but catastrophic thing that could happen to a baby. In our case, it was craniosyntosis, a disorder in which the skull stops growing, therefore, the brain stops developing. Its symptoms include ridges in the skull, and very small or lack of fontanels (soft spots). Reading that hit me like a ton of bricks, and brought me right back to a moment at my new parent’s group. I was sitting next to a fellow new mama, and we held our sons in our laps, admiring them and exchanging comments. She mentioned how weird it was to see her baby’s brain pulsing through his soft spot. I looked on in amazement.

“Wow!” I said, “Look at that! Collin’s head doesn’t do that. His soft spots have already closed up.”

She looked at me strangely, and said, “What do you mean his soft spots have closed up? They’re supposed to have them for a long time.”

I looked down at my baby, and wondered. I never stopped wondering about his soft spots, and now those anxious little buzzing alarm clock thoughts have turned into a blaring fire alarm, complete with flashing lights and an earthquake. Suddenly, I am asking the question every parent dreads: Is there something wrong with my baby? Something seriously wrong? Something a good nap and a dose of baby tylenol can’t fix?

Maybe. Maybe not. For a while, I went from confidence that everything would be OK to shattering devastation that left me sobbing and shaking. Now, a margarita later, I am calm. Well, calmer. Husband found a small soft spot on his head that I’d missed, which made me feel a little better. Now, all we have left to do is wait for the doctor to call us back. In the meantime, I’m left feeling incredibly humbled, and thinking about the parents of every child with a disability that I have ever worked with. The moment they asked themselves, is there something wrong with my baby? I never, ever thought that was a question I would seriously ask, but here I am, asking away, sitting in nail-biting anticipation for Monday when I can hopefully take my child to the doctor. Being a parent, I'm discovering, can sometimes be pretty terrifying.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Discovering (lack of) sleep, and (lack of) readiness.

When I finally crawl into bed at night, I hear the “Ding ding!” of bells at a boxing ring. The fight is on. My darling son and I will battle for sleep all night long. Collin is insistent on being attached to my chest, whether to nurse (in his sleep, mind you) or to use it as a pillow. He puts the phrase “sleep like a baby” to the test, and will systematically wake me every couple of hours to nurse without opening an eye, himself. We received a beautiful co-sleeper from my parents as a gift, a little baby bed that attaches to our bed, but found that everybody slept better if the baby was in bed with us. The only problem is, our little angel turns into a farting, snoring, pee-soaked bed hog who somehow becomes as hot as molten lava and kicks me to death every time I get comfortable.

I knew something had to give. I longed for him to sleep in his co-sleeper, but to my amazement, every time I tried to put him in it, it was me who had a problem with it. Suddenly, the bed became a vast, lonely, babyless oasis, and I nearly jumped out of my skin every time Collin so much as peeped. The subject of bed-sharing came up in my new parents’ group, and another mother shared a story identical to mine. I told her what happened to me every time I attempted the co-sleeper.

“Sounds like you’re not ready,” she said.


So, I put some thought into that. She was right, Collin wasn’t the only one who needed to be “ready” for the co-sleeper. I never thought that becoming a mother would overwhelm me so completely, taking hostage everything that used to be normal and comfortable. We’re still working on the co-sleeper. Now, the baby will start the night asleep by himself, but always end it right back in our bed, attached to me. I guess I’ll take that, for now.

Discovering "Me time."

Today I left Collin alone with his father and a full bottle of breast milk for five hours. It was my first time being away from my baby, and after five weeks of 24/7 mommying on demand, it felt a little like I had stepped into another life. Before I left, Collin and I sat in the shade for a while, cuddling. I had intended to take him to the farmer’s market, but instead I just held him and watched the busy crowd. Mothers strolled their children, elderly folks strolled themselves. Collin slept peacefully in my arms, sweaty in his Moby wrap and making me ten times hotter, waking occasionally to mouth my breast until I wrangled it out of my bra for him. It was nice. I’m getting the hang of this motherhood thing; being with Collin gradually becomes more peaceful and less help-I’m-dying terrifying.

After passing the baby baton to Husband (and fretting over it until I was literally kicked out of his office), I gleefully took the car and blasted music I used to listen to in my early twenties. It felt as if I was fifteen and my parents were gone for the weekend. I could do whatever I wanted! There was nobody who would need me to stop everything and pay complete attention to them at a moment’s notice. I drove to Felton and had my favorite drink at my favorite coffee shop with one of my favorite people. Afterward, I prepared to race back home to relieve an exhausted husband and feed what was surely a screaming baby who by then had most likely slurped down the bottle I had prepared. Instead, I was surprised to hear a cheerful, “We’re fine! We have plenty of everything!” when I called. I nearly dropped the phone.

So suddenly, I was faced with -could it be?- time to MYSELF. I spent most of it beating my head against a wall at Ross as I attempted to find something, anything, that would fit my post-pardom body. Shopping for clothes after having a baby is an...adventure. Basically, my butt is now a size 10, but my belly is a size 12. Where can I find pants with those mutant measurements? The entire time I was enjoying my “me time,” I was constantly texting my husband. I guess that was to be expected. By the time he finally asked me to come pick him and the baby up, I dropped everything and basically flew to go find them. I arrived at their destination just in time to catch the sunset over the ocean with them. Husband held Collin snugly in the Moby, wrapped in a blanket, who looked at me as if to say, ‘Where have YOU been?”

When we got home, Collin and I got reacquainted, or rather, Collin and my breasts got reacquainted. He dug his little icicle toes into me and latched on, suckling occasionally, his eyes bugging out of his head like a rabid squirrel. Eventually, he got to the point where he wasn’t hungry, but he wasn’t ready to let go, so there was nothing left for him to do but cry about it. I took him to bed and cuddled him until he fell asleep, and at one point I just looked at him and it dawned on me: this is MY baby.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Baby Days

Its been a month since I woke up in labor four hours before my scheduled induction. After 24 hours of hard labor, and two hours of pushing out a 14 inch head, my beautiful, curious little son was born.

Collin Ron. An adorable, enormous hybrid of my husband and my father, Collin is, at four weeks, the size of a four month old. He’s not pudgy, so much as long, and I mean LONG. Long arms and legs, long torso, long hands and feet. He is starting to smile now, which of course causes his mama to smile back deliriously as if someone had just handed me a million dollars. Just as good is when he gazes into my eyes with his round, soulful orbs, seemingly trying to tell me something. His eyes are not the light, crystal blue that most babies possess. Collin’s are dark and arresting. They force you to stop and stare into them, as if they are going to tell your fortune.

He is a very vocal little guy, not so much in a crying way, but he has different grunts and sighs for every occasion. There are his eating noises, his sleeping noises, and his ‘I’m a little bored’ noises. They have been the soundtrack of my life these past four weeks.  Today was our first day alone together, now that Michael has gone back to work and my step-mom returned to her rightful place in Minnesota with my father. There were a few “will it always be this scary??” moments, but overall, it was nice. Collin is a very patient soul, who puts up with his mama’s bumbling about while she tries to adjust to her new role in life. I’m lucky to have such a son.