Good evening, friends! It’s 9:30pm, the baby is sleeping, and it’s quiet with the exception of a constant audio backdrop of foghorns humming on the bay. I’m eating cherries and drinking water and feeling glad for a few moments to write. It’s tough to identify and harness these moments for writing–shouldn’t I be emptying the dishwasher, putting away laundry, finishing those thank you cards I’ve been meaning to do for weeks?? But tonight the priority is writing. I prefer to write a post all in one sitting and it’s hard to come by a free hour without other pressing obligations when the baby is sleeping (which could also include showering, pooping, napping, laundering baby clothes, disposing of diapers, doing baby-related paperwork, etc. etc. etc).
E is almost six weeks old! And weighs 13 lbs 13 oz (with diaper and onesie on)! He’s growing really fast. I noticed tonight while nursing him in the glider that his feet are propped on the opposite arm of the chair. It makes me feel good, like we’re both doing our job of making him grow. On the other hand, there’s this wistful nostalgia for every little stage that passes because you know it will never come back. I said to someone today that “he won’t be tiny again” (even though he was never tiny). Still–I notice each little milestone tick by–the initial weeks–meconium poops, the umbilical cord stump, the unfocused and cross-eyed look, the dry skin, the baby acne, the involuntary everything. The sense that he was truly fresh out of the oven. Bobble head and smaller cry. Learning from scratch. Staying home in the love soup with meals home cooked by mom.
Now he’s put on a few pounds and elongated too. His face doesn’t have such a puffy newborn look anymore. He’s really focused–makes eye contact with people, fixates on something out the window or a toy or a book. Smiles! Kicks his legs while breathing rapidly, in kind of a delighted pre-laugh. Can have a conversation exchange where the words are “uh” and “ooh” but the timing is perfectly logical. He’s getting a belly (I feel so proud of this!) and I’m still working on those cheeks. When I have him in a carrier, he holds on to me with his little hands.
Someday, though, when I have a tank of a toddler, I will look back on 6 weeks as tiny baby days. We’ve advanced into a kind-of routine that involves at least one outing per day. We’ve been super social with other new mamas and their babies–at mom meetups in the park, at friends’ houses, at my midwife’s office. Here is E (in green) with some of his gal pals today:
These meetups are so important. Not only are we sharing our experiences and lessons learned and supporting each other and keeping ourselves from becoming isolated, it’s just really critical to keep practicing getting out of the house. It’s a big deal. Timing sleep and feedings in order to get out the door, bringing the right stuff, choosing the right carrier, gauging the right temperature… It’s so trial and error and every single time there’s something I forget–and that’s when it helps so much to be with other new moms who can lend you a diaper or a plastic bag or a hand! One friend offered to repark my car when I realized, after getting the baby from the car seat to the carrier (asleep!), that I had parked in front of a driveway and I just couldn’t go through all the steps again. And once, when I was super frazzled with a crying baby, other moms neatly packed my messy pile of stuff back into my diaper bag. These are the friends who can bail you out when you’re still learning. Soon, I will graduate to socializing outside my house with people who didn’t recently give birth.
I’ve pretty consistently overbundled E. We learned in birth class that the baby needs one more layer than you do, but we all agree that our babies run hotter than that. I’m always stripping him down. Then when I went to meet moms in the Mission, where it’s warmer, I was all prepared to sit in the sun but then we were in the shade and I wished I’d had a gauzy blanket, which of course was the last thing I took out of my backpack before leaving the house. Today I actually ran out of diapers which is a totally amateur move. Other times I’ll remember all of the above and not need any of it!
Today, after parents’ circle, I walked with new friend E to get burritos and then nursed the baby in the car in an attempt to buy time to run an errand. Yet–we got halfway to Rainbow and he just went ballistic. I’m watching his screaming red little face in his car seat via two mirrors and trying to console him while getting us asap to a parking lot where I could nurse him again (maybe he wanted the other boob?), and by the time I got him out of his car seat he was sweaty and doing that post-cry inhale/shudder which made me feel awful. Who knows what triggered that… I guess sometimes this will just happen (maybe hungry, tired or overstimulated? Uncomfortable?). And it SUCKS to be driving at the time. On the other hand, there is no lasting damage–he always just pops back into a fine mood when he gets what he needed. If I cried that hard, I would likely do permanent damage to my vocal cords and be blotchy and sore for days. I need to remember that babies are designed to pull out this handy (and somewhat traumatizing) survival tool although it’s hard not to let it make you feel like you’re doing a crappy job.
Breastfeeding is the best. Such peaceful moments where we totally nail it on meeting each others’ needs. I keep taking videos of him nursing and vocalizing in the pauses with high-pitched baby sighs. So pure. When he’s finished, he does the most amazing baby stretch where he raises both arms over his head (only they don’t actually go past the top of his head) and sticks out his chin to stretch his neck, furrowing his little brow and curling up his legs. I look forward to this every time.
I love this guy so much. I’m happy to wake up to feed and change him, to entertain him with random narration and songs and books, and yes–totally feel rattled when he turns the screaming cry up to 11. I just read an article about how hard the transition to parenthood can be on so many levels–it can be so jarring, so despairing. In my case though, I had so much time to anticipate this boy’s arrival–I had to fight so hard for so long to get him here. I was beyond ready for the whole nine yards. And then I was blessed with a good eater and sleeper.
So, my mental state is pretty darn good for a new single mom. I expected this to be harder so I’m just grateful for every day that isn’t dreadfully hard. And for the seriously precious, fleeting moments.
Good grief, it got late. I better get my weary mama ass to bed. Lots of love and more soon!