Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Close to the ledge

Well. So I have two kids now. Let's make a pro/con list about that:

1. Am no longer pregnant
2. She is pretty cute
3. I love the name we chose for her
4. Nursing is going well
5. Andrew is still at home helping me cope
6. Jack is, so far, behaving beautifully

1. Fatigue (duh)
2. Sore boobs
3. She doesn't like to be put down which can make doing other things tricky
4. Andrew will, eventually, have to go back to work
5. Jack may start acting out at any moment, probably as soon as Andrew goes back to work
6. Post-partum hormones are making me very very anxious

Con number six that is causing most of the problems there, actually. For example, the post-partum anxiety is making me worry and worry and worry about how on EARTH I will cope when Andrew goes back to work. And I worry about what I should be doing and when. Right now, for example, all three of them are asleep on my bed and I think, “I should go to sleep too.” But then I think, “But I want to check my email and update my blog.” And then I think, “But I have to clean the kitchen or I will go insane.” And then I think, “WHEN will it STOP RAINING because it is SO FREAKING DARK IN HERE.” And then I think, “I am going to make a cup of tea so I can handle this better.” And then I think, “But I should really take a nap while I can.” And so it goes.

The anxiety comes in spurts and bursts. With Jack, I was anxious at about 5:00 pm every day because that was when I would start to worry about how difficult the night would be. This time, the anxious period seems to come randomly. Like now, for instance.

Except now I've had my tea and a cookie, I cleaned the kitchen a bit and checked my email. I turned on all the lights in the house and I've had some alone time, and I feel better. Off the ledge, as it were.

This anxiety is so frustrating, because intellectually, I'm perfectly well aware that this? Is temporary. All of it. So very, very temporary. Admittedly, that is part of what is making me anxious, since Andrew staying home is temporary, and I am wondering how temporary Jack's good behavior is. But Nora's four-hour long cluster feedings? Temporary. Her refusal to be put down? Temporary. Her inability to smile at me and thus reward me for my hard work and loving care? Temporary.

I keep catching myself thinking things like, “Oh, this is her long-nap time,” or “She hates to ride in the car,” when, in fact, I have not known her long enough to make these generalizations. She's only a week old, for crying out loud. To say she “hates to ride in the car” because that one time we went to the pediatrician's she cried the whole way is utterly ludicrous. Case in point: She cried all the way to playgroup today, but slept on the way home. Who knows what she hates or doesn't hate? SHE doesn't know.

I remember trying desperately to figure out a routine, any sort of routine, when Jack was an infant, and you know what? They don't have routines. They eat and sleep, yes, but with no regularity whatsoever. This can be terrifying.

And then everyone woke up and I had to nurse the baby and get through the dinner hour and read stories and do the budget and now I'm back. And Nora is totally asleep in her bassinet after the extremely traumatic experience of her first bath (not counting the one at the hospital). (Nora, darling, I'm sorry we had to do that to you, but, frankly, you stunk. Babies are supposed to smell GOOD, Nora.)

This dinner hour did nothing to assuage my anxiety because it was everything I nightmared the dinner hour would become after the baby arrived: Jack was post-nap-cranky and needy and Nora was hungry. Andrew was home, so he cooked while I cried on the couch wondering how on earth I will possibly do this when he goes back to work. I am using a sling for when I need to do stuff when she won't tolerate being put down, but I can't cook with the baby in a sling. Knives and fire seem a mite risky to use with a baby strapped to my body.

My tears freaked Jack out a bit, and he said “Mom, why are you sad? I don't want you to be sad.” That sounds very sweet, yes, but I think it was less concern for me and more fear at the idea that Moms can be sad. Moms are supposed to make sadness go away, they are not supposed to be sad themselves. And yes, I did talk to him about how everyone gets sad sometimes, blah blah blah, yada yada yada, but he was still a bit freaked.

Happily, the after-dinner-hour is the BEST hour of the day because Jack's bedtime is forthwith and then there is nothing to do but hold the baby till we can go to bed. And Andrew and I decided that we will work together to prep meals on the weekends and in the evenings so that I can just throw stuff together and heat it up during the week. This eases my mind a bit, because dinner is BY FAR my biggest concern at the moment, and the free meals that people bring over are running out.

This entry is not exactly my best writing, but my battery is going to die and I need to go to bed and lord only knows when I will get a chance to edit this thing. By the time I can edit it, it's quite possible that all the problems I'm having will have mutated into a completely different set of problems, and I want to read all your encouraging comments about how I'm not going to die and how this is all temporary. Temporary! So I'm just going to post it. Let the encouraging comments commence.


Emily said...

Oh, the anxiety. I remember it well. I remember, also, that it got way better after about two weeks, when a lot of those postpartum hormones started leaving my body. You're in this weird place where the excitement of the birth is wearing off, but there's absolutely no routine and nothing you can count on happening. You want to hear some advice? Cut yourself slack on dinner. Let dinner be sandwiches. Let dinner be pasta with store-bought sauce from a jar. Let dinner be omelettes that Andrew makes. I don't think I made real, actual dinner until Lucy was 3 months old, and even THEN it was hard.

You can do this. It gets easier one month in, and then improves dramatically at three months and then it finally feels normal at six. I know, six months feels like a long way off, and maybe it will happen for you sooner (I SHALL PRAY YOUR BABY NAPS) but six months feels like a whole new world. Six months is fun and relatively predictable and you will get there.

I am thinking of you all the time.

Melinda said...

You are doing great! This will definitely get easier! You can do it! You're awesome! She's so CUTE! (I don't think I've ever used that many exclamation points in one paragraph so I want you do know I really believe all of that. And you should too.)

Becca said...

Oh yes, this part is SO HARD. You sound exactly like I remember feeling, but you sound a lot less crazy. I felt so hopeless, like I couldn't possibly make it another day. But I did, and you will too! You are doing great. Just keep telling yourself that. Even when it doesn't feel that way. Your only goal every day is for everyone to survive. If Jack eats scrambled eggs for dinner (heck, if Jack eats peanut butter crackers and blueberries) every night for a week for dinner and Andrew brings you McDonalds, that is FINE. Just get through these first few months and then you will look back and realize that it is SO MUCH EASIER after a few months and have a good laugh about how difficult it all was (I also had a baby who would not be put down. I learned to do a LOT of things one handed or with the sling on, including cooking on the stove turned sideways with the sling as far away as possible).

Maybe when I meet you guys I can do something to help. But that is a month away and I am sure you will have it well under control by then.

The image of all three of them sleeping on the bed together is adorable!

Take care!

Christy said...

No advice here, just some positive vibes. I'm sure everything will get better very soon!

Anne said...

You are doing just fine. I always said with our kids- and will say it again after we have this third, and I'll say it with a Margarita in hand- that so long as everyone manages to eat, sleep, and have clean underpants, life is good. Dirty kitchen? Someday it will get clean. But these days, when sweet stinky babies just want to be held, they don't last forever. And you will miss them, I promise.

Keep chugging your water, and in a few weeks these postpartum hormones will be a dim blip in your memory of the first days home. And, most of all, congratulations on your clarity of thinking, of being able to recognize that this is anxiety, and that is going to eventually go away.

Swistle said...

Oh, this is SUCH a good post. I loved the WHOLE thing. I loved "when, in fact, I have not known her long enough to make these generalizations."

Dinner is one of my biggest stressy things after a baby. We now give into it entirely: Paul cooks, or he gets take-out, or we buy easy stuff (frozen lasagna, for example, and a loaf of garlic bread from the in-store bakery) from the grocery store, or we have eggs and cereal, or WHATEVER WORKS. It's expensive but it's worth it.

Swistle said...

Oh, and can we discuss corn syrup? Because I remember you specifying that a product didn't have corn syrup in it, and I have a Postpartum Food recipe that is made with corn syrup, and now I'm fretful about sending it to you because maybe corn syrup will be a wedge between us. Well, or you just won't be able to eat the recipe.

Sleen said...

You're doing GREAT. Try not to think too far ahead--sometimes hour-by-hour is best.

The transition from one kid to two kids is a BIG DEAL, so some anxiety is normal but you'll all catch on soon and it'll be fabulous!

Sleep as much as you can and let your husband take care of you. In a few weeks these early days will all be a blur.

Anonymous said...

Listen to these wonderful, wise internet friends. They made it and know from wence you come. Awise old MD told me once "Everything is temporary." Athe time I thought ,"Yeah, this is on long temporary situation and you're sitting in you nice soft office chair." But he was right.
If there's no supper, McD's has new Angus burgers. Lots if protein and iron plus greens. Look good. Then if all else fails, there's Cheerios. Then there is ME! I am only a phone call away!
But you, my talented baby Mom have what it takes. You just need to get strong again and have time to get to know your newest boarder.
Kiss Nora,Jack and that father of two and keep the lights on. Please try to get some sleep .

Your Anonymous Mom

Joy said...

Excellent post, you are doing just fine. Feed Nora, feed yourself, stay hydrated and rest when you can but you are right I also craved computer/email time.

Many hugs, will do my best to send some sunlight.

Anonymous said...

Remember when Jack was 7 days old? Remember loving him but maybe not being quite "In love" with him yet? A little guy that made you lose sleep and time to yourself and ate ate and ate all the time? How old was he when you said "I never knew I could feel so much love for for someone who caused me this much trouble."? Was that the day he first became Mr. Grinny Guy?
Fatigue is your enemy. Andrew is home to help take your other duties and let you get some sleep. Take it . Hypno yourself to relax. Put Nora in her swaddle or tuck her tight with the blanket backwards. Close your eyes, Mommy.

your Anonymous Mom

Unknown said...


Um, I only want to say, some of these easy dinners suggested are staples in my house.