Lessons Learned: Part I

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Wee Bubbalooshki Bear is over a month old this week.  Guess what!  I don’t have to change the name of my blog!  Turns out there are plenty of things to be incredulous about after all (Is that guy going to stop?!?!  What if he rear-ends us with the baby in the back?  We can’t take the baby to the library, there are too many germs!  Why is one eye more watery?  Oh, God, he has allergies! Etc, etc.)  Since BB has kept me on my toes every minute of every day, I’ve had little opportunity to post, so I’ll do my best to catch up by just sharing what I’ve learned so far in this first month…

  1. Punch Drunk Wuv is the title of a new mother’s life film.  Why?  Because I wuv wittle BB.  I mean, I weawy, weawy wuv him.  And no amount of baby talk can allow this information to plant itself into his wee wittle bwain yet, and it kills me.  I want him to know so desperately just how much I love him.  So much that, the first four days I’m home from the hospital, I weep just holding him.  I try to hide my tears from Nick (I don’t want to alarm him, after all), but ultimately he catches me each time.  I look up at him and utter, “I’m crying again.”  As if he couldn’t discern this for himself.  My tears are always out of love thankfully, not desperation.  I wasn’t prepared for the overload of emotions that accompany hormonal stabilization (or is it destabilization?)  And just as I wonder if I’ll always be bursting with so much love that it hurts (and I will), at least the crying fits subside, and by week two, they’re over.  I still tell Bubbalooshki a million times a day how much I love him.  “Mommy loves you sooo much.”  I whisper to him all the time. I guess I think that if I whisper it straight into his ear, somehow he’ll retain it better.  I know he doesn’t, but I can’t wait until he starts to understand.  Until then and thereafter, I will tell him every single day, and I won’t stop.
  2. Poop.  Is.  Awesome.  Those of you who know me well, know I hate the “p-word,” but now that I spend so much of my day listening to it make it’s rumbly debut and then wiping it up, I’ve grown rather fond of Poop.  Yep, it gets a capital “P” in this house now.  As does Fart.  That’s because there is nothing cuter than when your own baby toots.  Taking the uncouthness a step further, one of my favorite things is watching Will’s face when he makes a poopy.  It is hilarious.  I’ve never seen a face so sweet arrange itself into so many different emotions while he’s trying to work out what’s going on down there.  His little brow furrows, he may coo or let a little grunt escape his miniature vocal chords, and in a split second he lets a sly smile play over his goofy little lips.  Then he’ll move right into a thoughtful look where he raises one brow, or maybe both in surprise.  It’s fascinating.  And completely adorable.  This knowledge of poopy/tooty fun comes one of only two ways: 1) for a new mommy as I’ve just described or 2) if you’re a man of any age.  Unlucky for me, I’m sure Bubbalooshki, as a member of the male sect, will think farting is funny well beyond when I think it’s cute anymore.  Until then, I’ll sit back and giggle when I hear the rumblin’ in his tummy.
  3. Poop. Is. Awesome.  (Part II)  I’ve struggled with whether or not to publicly come out in my blog about this next fact, but I said I’d be honest from the beginning, and that’s what I’ve decided to do.  It may be TMI for some of you, so if you cringe when ladies talk about things that society deems unladylike, then skip to #4 below.  Here’s the truth if you’re thinking of having a baby, are pregnant, or just curious: the first time you poo after having a vaginal birth is…well…excruciating.  It was for me, anyway.  From what I’ve gathered from girlfriends, it’s pretty standard across the board that the PPP (post-partum-poopy) is awful.  First of all, they give you Colace (stool softener) in the hospital a couple of times and lightly mention that it will help things along, and make things “more comfortable” when you have your first BM.  They don’t tell you the hellish nightmare that your journey back to digestive regularity will be.  I will just give you a few insights, and you can infer from there: 1) I scared Nick when the time came and bawled through the bathroom door for him to call the nurse at Lutheran because I thought I was perhaps dying.  2) The PPP is worse than the childbirth itself.  3) Once the PPP is done and over, you will feel proud like you’ve accomplished a feat similar to Frodo’s journey with The Ring.  You are Harry.  You’ve just slain Voldy.  My advice: don’t just take one or two Colace.  Take like four a day until you’re through this nasty business.  ‘Nuf said.  Moving on!
  4. Dimpled butts and fat thighs are in style.  That’s right ladies.  And there is nothing more mouthwatering than your own baby’s dimply little butt cheeks and hammy-hocks.  I say mouthwatering not because I’m a weirdo who eats babies – I say it because Bear’s thighs are so deliciously chubby and cute that you just want to bite ’em!  (And eat his little toes for a decadent dessert.)  Ok, ok…so I’m still working daily to get rid of my own excess butt and thighs (mysteriously acquired while BB was developing his), but while I’m sweating off mine, I’m certainly enjoying his porky little extremities.
  5. Soap and hand sanitizer are your friends.  I would place last in diaper changing if it were an Olympic event.  I probably wouldn’t even make the Olympics.  In fact, for the first several days, I refused to change a poopy nappy without Nick supervising.  I’m not gonna lie…this is hard for me to admit, but…I get poop on my hands quite a bit.  It’s never much – only a minuscule amount that I usually notice several minutes after the diaper change has occurred.   Then there’s the Bonus Pee.  The BP is when your newborn son whizzes all over you and all over the wall and carpet before you remember how good he is at BP’s, by which time it’s too late to cover his tiny, but deadly, little fire hose.  This isn’t big news.  Baby boys ’round the world have been doing this for ages, yet somehow I manage to forget on occasion.  By the time you get the poop off your hands and wipe the pee dripping down your leg (his, not yours) it’s time to breastfeed, and I won’t deny that this is another liquid substance that can have a mind of it’s own at times.  The point is…I thought I washed my hands frequently before.  It’s doubled now, and there is always a burp cloth, paper towel roll, or other cleaning cloth nearby.  Unless…proceed to item 5.
  6. Whatever you need is miraculously out of reach.  Always.  “Niiiiiiiicky?!  Can you get me some waaaaateeeer?  Pleeeeease?”   “Niiiiiiick?!  Can you come downstairs?  I can’t reach the remooooooote!  I’m already sitting doooown!”  The previous examples should be read in your whiney voice.  Because, that’s how I sound usually.  I learned the hard way, over and over again, that you should get everything you could possibly ever want or need and collect it in a little pile right next to where you’re about to sit down and nurse, or nap with the baby on your chest, or any other required activity that leaves you immobilized.  It never fails, as soon as you lay back to soothe your little one, or get comfy to nurse, you realize the T.V. isn’t on the right station, and there’s the remote…juuuust out of your reach.  Or, he burps up and you spot the burp cloth lazily slung over the dining room chair.  You’re in the living room. Or, he’s finally asleep, napping on you, because that’s the only way he’ll sleep, and you just want a few quiet moments to read.  You can touch your book with the tip of your middle finger…closer, closer, damn!  You accidentally nudge the book further away.
  7. There’s no such thing as “getting ready” anymore.  Remember your little routine?  Shower, brush teeth, dry hair, apply makeup, apply deodorant, dress, etc.?  Well, turns out, this doesn’t exist anymore.  I shower during the day if I’m lucky.  Usually I do it at night, knowing I won’t be able to during the day.  My hairdryer hasn’t felt its plug insert into an outlet for weeks.  I air dry, baby.  It may be afternoon by the time my teeth are brushed.  Why?  Because, you have little packets of time during which menial tasks are possible.  There is no leisure.  If I get makeup on, it’s a good day.  In this new reality, you may start to think, “I don’t look so bad!” as you carefully pull your wet hair into a respectable ponytail and throw on a headband.  Not bad at all, right?  Well…just don’t look at any pictures of your former self, when curling irons and eye liner were all the rage.  It’s the only way to keep fooling yourself.  In addition, you’re unable to do other necessary tasks around the house as part of a routine, which means you may forget to do them altogether.  This could be why Chloe is drinking out of the toilet right now instead of her water bowl, which is clearly bone dry because I’ve forgotten to put water in it.  You don’t have time to do anything, which is why I’ve been working on this blog post over several days, and it’s likely full of horrible spelling and grammar.  Forgive me!
  8. Dudes are awesome at pretending to be sleeping.  I’m pretty sure Bubbalooshki Bear isn’t pretending.  Nick, on the other hand, hmph.  So, on the weekend, our deal is that in the middle of the night, I feed the baby, Nick changes the diapers.  So, you’ll imagine my surprise when last weekend, I  nudge him and grunt sleepily, “S’time a change Wu’s d’pers.”  No response.  I nudge again.  He stirs, but otherwise remains unresponsive.  “Nick, diaper change.”  I say with more clarity this time, starting to come-to.  No response.  I huff loudly and make a production of getting out of bed and mutter, “Don’t worry, I’ll do it.”  He then proceeds to roll over and snuggle with the baby, and kiss him, then watches me through dreary eyes as I change the diaper and testily get back into bed.  The next day I call him out.  “What?”  He says.  “I don’t even remember that.  I was sleeping.”  Yeah, right.  “But, you watched me do it.  I saw you!”  I say.  “Huh, I don’t even remember any of that.”  Nicely played, Nick.  Nicely played.
  9. You’ll break every rule you’d set pre-baby.  I remember reading so much information before Will arrived.  The nine months prior felt like researching a dissertation on Child-rearing in Contemporary Midwestern Culture.  I had vowed to not give Will a bottle or a pacifier until after 4 weeks, which is what most articles suggested.  I said I wouldn’t co-sleep (there are different definitions – I’m referring to co-sleeping in bed with us.)  I vowed that no disposable diapers would touch my baby’s hind, at least for the first several weeks.  No formula for my baby!  (So, I nearly cried when I gave him one measly ounce of formula one night because my milk hadn’t come in and he seemed to be starving.)  So, on.  Etc.  All of these rules, and many others were broken.  That’s ok.  I’ve learned to go with your gut.  One little deviation here and there isn’t going to change who your child becomes.  Sometimes, with all the hype out there about various child-rearing styles, it’s easy to become ensnared in the short-term when, in the long-term, many of these things won’t make a difference.  I know lots of well-adjusted, functioning, smart people who were fed (gasp)…formula.  I’m not arguing that breast milk isn’t best, or that it’s fine to have your baby sucking a pacifier right out of the womb.  Research says [insert scientific stats here]…  What I’m saying is, I really beat myself up in the first week or so when things didn’t go exactly according to plan.  I don’t do it anymore.  It’s not worth it.  When the course changes paths, I try to just get back on my planned path the next day.  If it changes permanently, then that’s fine too.  We do what works.  Sometimes I wish the science would give a little more weight to instinct, but then it would be anecdotal.  Still.  (Now if you slip up and have a few cigarettes while pregnant, or in the presence of your infant, you should probably be set back on the right path immediately by having your ciggies knocked down your throat, but anyways…)
  10. Marlin was right.  So, I used to get annoyed right along with Nemo when Marlin hesitated to let him do anything, let alone leave the anemone.  (“We swim out, then back in, then we swim out, and back in.  And, then we swim out…”)  Turns out, as a new mom, you become Marlin.  Or a bunny with a nest full of baby bunnies in your brier patch, wiggling and twitching your nose as you carefully poke your head out to determine if it’s safe. Or any other animal species, really, that has to watch and listen for every movement, every sound, for survival.  This new instinct does subside a tiny bit after you take a couple of trips outside of the nest, but it’s strong in the beginning, and so far hasn’t really gone away.  From what I’m told, it never will.  Examples might include the following:
    • A trip to Target where you spend so much time staring at the baby being pushed by your husband in the cart, that you carelessly knock over a senior citizen without notice,  or trip over your own flip-flop.  Your eyes never leave the baby. Is he cold?  Gasp!  Is he about to cry?
    • Your first walk with the baby where, miraculously, even though the front wheel on your new jog-stroller is skinny as a rail, you manage to run over the only hickory nut on the walking path with that tiny wheel, but it’s enough to jar your baby’s head and, as you watch it bobble helplessly, you shriek profanities at the nut while tearfully announcing, “I knew this was a bad idea!  It’s too soon!  He probably has shaken baby syndrome now!  I want to go home!”
    • Your new mommy laser vision spots a mosquito or a bee ten feet away while sitting on the front porch.  You think it best to mosey on inside.  Immediately.

I’m learning lessons each day.  Despite the cynicism in some of these I’ve listed, I’ve enjoyed this month of my life more than any other.  I wake up smiling at Will’s silly little face every day as soon as I see it and remember that he’s mine (ok, ours).  Each day brings new lessons, and I’ve never been more eager to learn.

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