Be Still

For someone who loathes routine, getting Ike on a schedule has become my white whale.  Every day I chart his feeding, sleeping, and play schedule, imagining myself getting hours closer to predictable days and a sense of control over the the unpredictable entity that is a newborn.  But then reality strikes and instead of getting Ike up to feed him on schedule I find myself creeping around the bedroom like a burglar, trying to steal a few precious minutes here and there before he sounds his siren call for his morning feeding.  I’m not going to say if today is going well or if the numerous other times I tried to put him on a schedule were successful. Maybe what Ike is trying to teach me is to let go, which is a hard-fought lesson for anyone trying to mentor me.  I commend your efforts, Ikesteroo.

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I still have much to learn, but I’m feeling more comfortable with the thought of taking care of two kids.  Note that I’m not actually saying that I’m competent enough to actually take care of two kids, but the thought of it doesn’t immediately drive me to tears.  That’s progress, right?  Starting tomorrow and until the end of the month Connor and Ike will be in my sole care during the work week.  I see a lot of Cars, Cars 2, Paw Patrol, and Chuggington in my future.  Other than that I also see a lot of diaper changes, harried pumping sessions, and disrupted naps in my future.  I’ve never climbed a mountain or hiked the Appalachian Trail, but I’m pretty sure that moms are formed from some of of the toughest stuff around.  Maybe some day I’ll be made of that stuff, too.

Right now, I’m made of soft, doughy flesh that has resisted all of my efforts to be mentally willed into discernible abs or not love handles.  I haven’t tried to get myself into a routine that has any self-serving purpose.  The biggest effort I’ve made towards getting back in shape is to drink and ultimately pour down the drain a bottle of kale/spinach/cucumber juice (honestly, how did that stuff ever make it to the grocery store shelf?!).  My linea negra is just as dark as it was during pregnancy as are the spots under my arms.  I am still sporting my maternity jeans along with whichever nursing bra smells less like stale breast milk.  I make an effort to put on makeup and change out of my pjs every day so I don’t feel like a gigantic slouch, but my afternoon hours have become less and less productive. I feel mildly guilty about not scrubbing down the countertops and folding all the stray clothes, but there will be plenty of time for all of that fun stuff.  What I enjoy the most about my days are these moments, when Ike is sleeping soundly on the couch while I try to form complete thoughts and make sense of life today.  At this moment I’m not afraid of Ike waking up because I can take care of him.  I’m not anxious about what to make for dinner or if I’ll have enough time to cook.  In this moment I am still. 

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Back to the Drawing Board

I am entering week three of my maternity leave. Unfortunately, I verbalized to Z that I was getting the hang of Ike’s feeding and sleeping rhythms which means that today he’s been all out of sorts. It’s cool though, this is my second time around so I got this, right? Mmm, sorta kinda. I have the hang of breastfeeding and haven’t even employed the use of a Boppy (that might have more to do with the fact that I’m too lazy to dig it out of our baby stuff boxes. Maybe). I have the hang of changing diapers in the dark, pumping breastmilk, and burping. It’s those things that I’ve forgotten that have me anxious and doubting myself every five minutes.

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If you followed me back when I was on Blogger, I spent most of my posts lamenting how much/little time I spent entertaining Connor and how much/little time I spent on chores and housework. I find myself in that catch-22 again: When I’m holding and playing with Ike I’m worried that he’s getting too used to it and will ultimately be a needy child. When I’m not all up in his infantile grille I’m worried that I’m being neglectful and he will never learn his ABCs, how to communicate with people, or what I look like. Essentially, having a new baby has brought out the craziest, most ridiculous, insanely dubious parts of me. The great part about all of this is that it’s made me realize that I wasn’t feeling crazy or insanely dubious as of late, but I’m feeling it now.

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Connor is so cool, I worry that I used up all my rad sauce on him and Ike is destined to be uncool. In context here, “cool” means chill, low maintenance, smart, and easy going. If Ike were to be “uncool,” I’ll just be forced to widen my definition of “cool.” Silly thing is, Connor and Ike are ours forever and I love them regardless, so why worry about it? Because that’s what I do, that’s why.

The Tale of Ike

He’s here.  Little Pea, officially deemed Isaiah “Ike” Philip, slid into this world at exactly 12:00 am on Christmas morning.  In retrospect, what I thought were originally stomach pains from an excess of tacos were probably the start of contractions on Christmas Eve around 7:00 pm.  Following family tradition, we opened presents later that night during which I was so uncomfortable I couldn’t even sit down.  My night was made up of pacing and deep breathing, which reached a head at 11:30 when I told Zach that we had to head to the hospital after warning my family that this baby was likely coming soon.  I remember us driving the three blocks to the hospital, me breathing deeply and seeing 11:35 lit up on the car dash.  I thought I could walk to the OB floor, but my water broke in the hallway not 10 steps from the ER.  They wheeled me quickly down the hallway, up the three floors to the Labor and Delivery suites, and into a room while I wailed and cried the whole way.  My doctor magically appeared in his scrubs and a baseball hat, and by midnight Ike was out, large, and coated in newborn wax.  Zach said Ike started crying right away.  The only sound I remember is Z crying and me looking at him in disbelief because he was the one who had to tell me that our baby was born.  In spite of my deepest wishes, the entire birth was carried out without a drop of anesthetic.  Totally not my style.  But our little guy is healthy, beautiful, and here.

Connor might have known something was going on before I even did.  He was whiny and irritable during the entire gift-opening tirade that started around 8:00 pm.  We were able to coax him through brief periods of distraction when he uncovered his Chuggington Koko Safari train set and his new set of Cars books.  But mostly he was a mini terror, a 2-year old Godzilla knocking over stacks of gifts, throwing anything in his reach, and kicking anything that might be in his way.  He was very un-Connor-like.  Add to that that fact that by the time we left for the hospital he was still awake, refusing sleep up through the time Z went back to the house at 2:00 am after Ike had been born, and I’m almost positive Connor knew the winds of change were blowing hard.

I stayed in the hospital less than 24 hours on my request.  The only hospital-administered substance coursing through my veins was a bag of saline, I was feeling decent, and it was Christmas, after all.  My doctor agreed that it would be ok for Ike and I to head home that day.  I spent the vast majority of my hours at the hospital in and out of sleep while Z ran around getting things ready for Ike and I and making sure that Connor was doing ok.  When Connor was born I didn’t want to leave my birthing suite even as they wheeled me down to the car.  The second time around I couldn’t wait to get home and check on him to make sure he knew that I didn’t leave him.  I just wanted to get home and get back to normal, even though at this point I’m not sure what our new normal is just yet.  The holidays, while wonderful, will further stall any semblance of a normal schedule for any of us.  I’m sad that soon we’ll be staring at the bleak month that is January, but I am also looking forward to getting a routine and figuring out life as the mother of two.

My body is still malfunctioning on the way to recovery.  Back are the days of painfully engorged, leaky boobs that look horrible no matter how fancy the nursing bra (mine are not fancy at all), back are the days of still wearing maternity pants because between them and my pre-pregnancy jeans I’d rather give my “flannel puppy” – as Anne Lamott dubbed it – room to roam, and back are the days of just feeling uncomfortable in my achy, sore, overstretched skin.  I’m frustrated because I think I’ll blow my stitches when I pick up Connor even though I do it anyway.  I grit my teeth when ‘Rado runs into my stomach or pads at my breasts as I imagine milk coursing from them, soaking yet another shirt, and making me wince with pain.  I’m annoyed that people think I should be right “back to normal” less than a week postpartum, but I’ve already started thinking that the 6 weeks I took off for maternity leave might be too much.  In short, I’m going through all of the feelings I went through with Connor but with the added guilt of not being able to give Connor all of the attention that he’s used to.  Ironically, we gave Connor a sibling for that exact reason – so that he would learn to share our attentions and not be the center of them all of the time.  Ike is only five days old and we have our entire lives to create our family dynamic, but in these early days I feel like a foal trying to move on unsteady legs, uncertain of where to look or how to start.  Breathing deep is probably a good place to start.  It’s like I’m still having contractions; just breathe.