I’ve officially had one month now to adjust to my “new normal.” You may not be as shocked as I was to figure this out, but taking care of a newborn is a lot tougher than I thought it would be.
That of course, comes from someone with zero previous experience with babies. Generally in the past, whenever someone brings a new baby around and all the girls crowd around and coo and beg to hold him, I’m the one backing away slowly. I’ve never really been a “baby” person.
But rest assured, I am a “baby” person now, even if that means my baby is the only baby that I like. 😛
But honestly, prior to having Baby Jake, I was looking forward to time at home with him as a sort of vacation. Not having to go into work, watching trashy daytime television, spending too much time on Facebook, taking naps, etc… I mean, newborn babies sleep most of the time anyways, right?
Oh man, was I wrong. Yes, Baby Jake spends some time sleeping (he’s sleeping right now, which is the ONLY reason I’m able to finally update my blog). But that sleep time could be anywhere from ten minutes to two hours, so it really keeps me on my toes. I’ll think that he’s just drifted into a deep sleep in his Pack ‘n Play, only to get into the shower and have a full shampoo lather going and suddenly hear him screaming and crying because he’s woken up.
And the crying…oh my goodness! It’s the exact same pitch and intensity whether he is in agonizing pain or simply wants to be picked up and held. It’s up to me to figure out his message.
It’s been a mental game-changer for me because I am a planner. Even if it’s a relaxing Saturday, I have a constant mental to-do list rotating through my mind–I just can’t help it. So Baby Jake will drift to sleep and then I’ll immediately pull up my “to-do list” and start figuring out what to do first with my precious spare time. Should I wash the pile of dishes in the sink that’s been sitting there for two days (with flies buzzing around)? Should I finally frame that picture of Jake and hang some of those decorations in the nursery? Maybe I could vacuum…but only in the back of the apartment so that I don’t wake the baby? Or laundry…I easily have seven loads of laundry piling up on the bedroom floor. Do I have time to update my blog? Maybe I should sleep while the baby sleeps? (Haha. :-P) And then before I’ve gotten even halfway into the first item on my list, Jakey is crying and he needs me again, and I have to set down whatever half-finished thing I was working on. That’s been one of the biggest mental challenges for me….looking around at an apartment full of chores that need to be done and just being okay with them NOT being done.
And did you know that newborn babies need to eat every 2-3 hours?! I sure didn’t. I’ve had to get used to becoming a human vending machine (or soft-serve machine…or soda fountain. I’m not sure which metaphor is appropriate here). Breastfeeding has been another big challenge. Because if you get caught up in your to-do list while the baby is sleeping and neglect to wake him up and feed him every 2-3 hours, bad things can happen. I recently developed mastitis, which is a really painful infection (I’ll let you Google it if you’re interested in the gory details….I’d rather not share them here). It’s easily the worst medical malady I’ve ever endured (more painful than labor and delivery, in my opinion), and I’m sure my crazy hormones and emotions don’t make it any easier. Thankfully, I am on the mend now after taking antibiotics and seeing a lactation consultant–another strange experience I never thought I’d go through. (I feel like visiting a lactation consultant is only one step above seeing a witch doctor or something…it all seems very hocus-pocus to me. And the consultant sent me to an apothecary afterwards! I never even knew a modern day apothecary existed!)
Between that and being sleep-deprived, I’ve been feeling a little bit off-my-rocker this past month. I recently started posting on Facebook “signs that I’m sleep-deprived” (because you’ve got to be able to laugh at it). One of my posts was about how I was talking to a woman in a medical office on the phone and she was taking down my insurance information. She was having me read my ID number in “b as in boy, d as in dog” fashion. For whatever reason, when I got to the letter n, I drew a blank. I mean, I paused for several seconds, an embarrassingly long time, and then I finally had to admit, “I’m sorry ma’am. I can’t think of a single word that starts with the letter n.” Thankfully, she was very understanding….I’m sure she gets that a lot from other sleep-deprived moms. 🙂
I’ve had a lot of challenges, and a lot of adjustments to be sure. But it all feels worth it when I see this sweet little angel face:
And he has a lot of facial expressions, to be sure. I spend a lot of time just sitting with him in the rocking chair, laughing at all of the funny faces he makes and snuggling him and giving him kisses when he’s sleepy, and letting the to-do list/sleep-deprivation/breastfeeding problems melt away for a little while. He’s my sweet baby, and I’d do it all over again. And regarding all of the not-so-fun-stuff, everyone keeps telling me that it will get easier.
It will get easier, right?
I’ll leave you with a little gallery I’d like to call “The Many Faces of Baby Jake”: