Thursday, December 19, 2013

the first ten days

And somehow, just like that, we made it through the first ten days[1].

Here then, in completely random order, are five invaluable mildly entertaining things I have learned during this harrowing period of newborn-ness.

1. The laws of physics do not apply.
Before I was a parent[2], I was often struck by the amount of mommy-blogging-web-real-estate devoted to discussions of baby bowel habits. In particular, the ever popular and seemingly ubiquitous, BLOWOUT. The baby poop that seemed to travel through space and time, covering every inch of your newborn despite the apparent impossibility of it all. I never paid much attention until:

OH MY GOODNESS HOW ON EARTH IS THERE POOP ON YOUR NECK, CHILD!

Since that harrowing middle-of-the-night-changing, we’ve switched to cloth diapering – in which I am assured blowouts are less of a “thing.” But I’m still deeply scarred/I still plan to remind my son of this moment on the evening of his high school prom. And I still hold it over C – like a threat and a promise. One day, one day! You, dear husband, will know the horror.

2. You will be reacquainted with your washing machine.
It is entirely possible for your newborn to cruise through his entire infant wardrobe – far too much of which is cutesy newborn hand-me-down wardrobe malfunctions that say things like “Daddy’s little guy” and “I like trucks!” – in a 48 hour period. 24 if he’s a real overachiever and/or sporadically urinates in such incredible volume as to penetrate his cloth diaper, Thirties cover, an adorable Baby Gap infant onesie and any confidence you ever had as a parent. Way to go, kid.

3. Television. Sweet, sweet television.
It’s important to teach your child bad habits as early as possible. Which is why, while breastfeeding, I am exclusively binge watching television with my son. Second only to a comfortable chair in which to acquire breast-feeding-related-sedentary-bed-sores, is a Netflix subscription with which to induce that eyes-glazed-over, drunk-on-Orange-is-the-New-Black look. Plus, now your infant will know what a “shank” is and have deep insights on the character Crazy Eyes. We have also powered through two and a half seasons of Parenthood and a smattering of Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia – the latter only to balance out the wholesomeness of the former. My child will be a television connoisseur and I will win Mother of the Year. Natch.

Ezra is already skeptical of my television choices.

4. Sleep when the baby sleeps.
Syke! This is quite possibly the most annoying piece of advice ever. Sure, it’s totally rational and if it were possible on a consistent basis, might even make these early weeks feel a teensy bit manageable. But here’s the hitch. My child will only sleep (a) in my arms; (b) folded up like an amphibious little creature in his super snug carseat with Sleep Sheep inches from his tiny skull or (c) Not at all. Anywhere. Because BOOB! GIVE ME THE BOOB, WOMAN!

Because I strive to set a good example – and mistakenly smothering my infant during his first ten days of life seems incompatible with that – option (a) does not really allow me to sleep. Do I occasionally frequently doze off while holding him, only to wake with a dramatic start that leaves us both him breathless and screaming? Oh sure. But legitimate, restful sleep? Umm, no.

What about option (b) you ask? Well sure. When he’s folded up in his carseat, developing the kind of stunted, disoriented sleep habits that will serve him well in his future career as a purveyor of hard drugs, I can lean back in my comfortable armchair and pass out for an hour. But then the Sleep Sheep ends it’s soothing cycle of “ominous ocean sounds,” Ezra starts fussing because umm, HELLO WHY AM I IN A CARSEAT ON THE FLOOR, WE’RE NOT EVEN MOVING and it’s back on the boob.

And that brings us to option (c). Which, during the first ten days anyway, seems to be the only option worth exploring.

5. Step away from the soapbox, Sanctimommy
Before bringing home this living, breathing human baby that depends solely on you to sustain it’s little life, it’s possible that you may have been, ahem, a little sanctimonious, even self-righteous, about certain things. Pacifiers, breastfeeding, formula feeding, co-sleeping, your own basic personal hygiene, etc. You know, the important stuff.

I have found that the first ten days of your child’s life is the appropriate time to: FORGET EVERYTHING YOU EVER THOUGHT, BELIEVED IN OR SWORE YOU WOULD NEVER DO.

The time for your “beliefs” and all that BS you painstakingly researched in the seemingly interminable months leading up to baby’s arrival? That ship has sailed. Because now, now your goals are simple and straightforward and leave no room for deeply held values: eating and sleeping (for the baby – you will never do either of these things consistently again). And that is literally it.

Maybe that means awkwardly breastfeeding in some kind of upside down, ergonomically incorrect cross cradle hold while getting a pelvic exam (check!). Maybe that means that, when inside your home, you crank the heat to 75 and walk around topless 23 hours out of the day[3]. Maybe it means that when the buttons on the onesie are just too damn confusing at 4 am, your child will exist, only partially clothed in what you convince yourself is a very fashion forward outfit. Maybe it means that the best part of your day is the 6 minutes you have to go to the bathroom in peace. Or maybe it means that you embrace the oh-dear-god-totally-creating-a-bad-habit of having your infant son sleep in his carseat. See supra.

Whatever. Now is not the time for sanctimony.

So. What gems of wisdom have you guys picked up in these early days?

(P.S.: I am very aware that this post seems to meander aimlessly between first and second person. Because my eyes are so glazed over I can barely see the screen, I am officially not going to make any effort to correct this. I blame the baby.)



[1] Okay, so technically, today isn’t over yet. ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN.
[2] Just writing that kind of gives me pause – I mean, really? Shouldn’t I have to like, I don’t know, take a class or something? Maybe submit my CV to a panel of judgmental child development experts?
[3] For the first hour or so of her visit, my mother-in-law sheepishly kept her eyes on her shoes at all times. I finally told her she was going to have to get over it and continued waving my boobs around like a maniac.

9 comments:

  1. LOL..oh man, I laugh and shudder at the same time to this post knowing all too well that it's just around the corner for me.

    FWIW - I started sleeping MUCH more once we started bed sharing (which I used to swear I'd never do). Falling asleep while on the couch is actually way more dangerous than a safe bed sharing environment -- plus you'll be more comfortable and sleep better, and your kiddo will be happy to be snuggled up to Mommy (and more importantly, BOOBS!).

    Don't worry about creating bad sleeping habits at this point. Newborns only know snug, tight spaces and warmth and Mommy. That whole "4th trimester" shit is real - I really think those first 3 months is all about getting baby to be snuggled and happy however possible. Check out troublesometots.com for great (non-sanctimonious advice) on what's normal, what to try, etc. in regards to sleep.

    I had the same convo with my FIL about my boobs, and he doesn't even bat an eye now. :)

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  2. Hilariously, I keep telling my mom how 2 years of infertility has "totally prepared me for the ups and downs of having a baby" because I'm just so mentally prepared. That said, I have never spent more than 5 hours in the presence of a newborn. This is going to be super funny, especially for my mom who has listened to me give soapbox speaches for months now. She's awesome and will totally collect my little sudsy body crumpled at the bottom of said podium and rescue my screaming infant come April.

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  3. thanks for the LOLs! I know nothing about parenting, but is sleeping the car seat actually bad!?!? seems reasonable to me - cozy and nice! And I totally support the nudist house - for you, baby, or both! Survival seems like the name of the game for me!

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  4. Regarding 4 and 5 - a friend told me that for the first 6 weeks you just do whatever works (rock/feed/shush to sleep, co-sleep etc). At 6 weeks you generally have a bit more of a handle on things to think about any habits or routines you want to set up (or not). This has been true for us, hopefully also for you!

    Also I agree with J o s e y, bed sharing helped us get more sleep (and to be honest I think in the early days you do whatever works so that you both get sleep). We settle our wee boy James on us then transfer him to his bed; and if he wouldn't settle (which happened much more at 10 days than it does now at 7 weeks) husband would have him on his chest and we could all get a bit of sleep (yay skin to skin). Now we can usually get him down with a little jiggling and pacing the hall. I'm sure over time you'll find what works best for you and Ezra.

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  5. This was great. It sounds stressful, but it also seems like you're dealing with it with a fair amount of humor, so there's that.

    I'd like to think that I have a pretty realistic idea of what those first few weeks will be like, but there's just that one thing: breastfeeding. I'll admit I got all judge-y on my sister for giving up on it pretty quickly with all 3 kids. I'm convinced that it can't be THAT hard... right? Then I think about how I feel right now when the hubs so much as accidentally grazes my sore nips and I turn into a "DON'T TOUCH ME EVER AGAIN" monster. Then I try to imagine a small person attached and... well, I can see that it's going to be more difficult than I can even imagine.

    But that little face! Oh he is so cute. I'm guessing that makes it all worth it...

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  6. "developing the kind of stunted, disoriented sleep habits that will serve him well in his future career as a purveyor of hard drugs,"

    Pretty much this.

    Congratulations to you guys. Cant wait to read more. Ezra's in good hands.

    Only pearl of wisdom: Do not take advice from those who have not gone through these early days of parenting within the last year. Everyone else suffers from the evolutionary survival trait known as "parenting amnesia." I now count myself among the droves of unreliable advice givers. We will attempt to feed you unrealistic expectations. Do not consume.

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  7. Thanks for the advice! I was cursing the freezing temperatures in my area, because I know how much easier it would be to walk around topless in the early days of breastfeeding. Duh! Just turn up the heat! (I'm sure the cost of bringing Florida-like temps into my home during the late winter months will be worth it.)
    What a cutie that son of yours is!

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  8. I agree- the beginning is absolutely whatever works is what goes. Sleep is at a premium so if that means a car seat, go for it. I have read lots of blogs where their kid is in a swing for sleeping. The goal is to keep the kid alive while we also survive! :-)

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  9. I don't have much to add on the 'early days of parenthood' theme, because that still mostly feels like a fantastical, unattainable goal for me. But I had to stop by and comment anyway because that kid of yours is so damned adorable. Like, really.

    I have no doubts that you and Ezra will soon find your groove!

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