on these newborn baby days

I was going to write a post comparing the birth of H to the birth of E, but it digressed and what I really want to record is the special, long, fast, confusing, easy, tiring “fourth trimester” of a newborn.

H is a good baby. But maybe I’m a more patient and easy going mother this third go-round. When he stirs, or cries, I offer my breast. He takes it. I swaddle him when he’s sleepy and hold him until he’s dead-weight asleep. Sometimes he sleeps next to me in bed, sometimes he sleeps in his side-car co-sleeper. I wear him in a wrap a few hours a day when we walk, or go to the library, or if he just needs it. I’m at the point where I can follow my own instincts and just do what feels right, natural.

[I must add here, it’s infinitely easier taking care of a newborn with a supportive husband. He’s taking care of E & L and keeping them busy and I’m able to bum it out at home whenever I please. Thank you honey]

Newborns are simple creatures. I can confidently say now I’m not a mom who gushes over a newborn, or even my own newborn. Yes, I am connected to him. At times it’s like he’s still inside of me, still part of me, connected through muscles and tissues and blood  (which is why the fourth trimester analogy of newborns makes perfect sense to me). Sometimes I realize I haven’t looked at him from a distance in hours because he’s been on me or wrapped to me. I mostly see the top of his head or the side of his face as he’s nursing. Diaper changes are the only time I see him without him touching my body in some way.

My husband asked me on the first or second night at home: “Do you love him?”

Funny word, love is. Of course a mom loves her baby, but that “in love” feeling, that “proud” feeling I get when I look at my older, more fully developed kids, it’s just not there yet. I’m still getting to know H. I’ll think we are making a meaningful connection just gazing into each others eyes, and then his eyes cross, his tongue portruds out, and he rips one of his loud farts. I get a preview of his beautiful smile-to-be when he’s asleep, but the first real joyful grin in response to me only happened two days ago, and he’s 3 weeks old.

I’m a member of many mom groups on Facebook, and as H’s namesake would say, “First time moms kill me”. They post things about how their 4 day old is “bored” and wonder which toys are best for them. They talk about their week old “getting back to normal” in a routine after a rough sleepless night. They put in personality to their offsprings that I’m pretty sure aren’t quite there yet. I could just be a cynical know-it-all so I don’t post my thoughts (although I had a hard time with the “bored newborn” woman. I so wanted to tell her just to pick her baby up and cuddle it as long as it wants, that’s the only stimulus a new baby needs, but I’m not looking to start a mommy-war on Facebook).

I took a Philosophy class my freshman year of college and I’ll never forget the unmarried, single professor talking about how newborns weren’t really humans yet. I was slightly horrified by it. Now, my baby and all my babies were and are precious to me and I would defend them to the death, but there is some truth to what Dr. Philosophy had to say. Newborns are so defenseless, such helpless little creatures and I love being the support and comfort my newborn needs, but beyond the sleeping, eating and defecating, there isn’t much there yet. I can already tell H is going to be a pretty laid back kid, but I also know that can change at any moment.

I think H is my last baby. So I’m savoring this fourth trimester as much as I can. I am “spoiling” him as much as I want, indulging him and his cries, letting him fall asleep on the boob, staying up watching TV late with him in the crook of my arm, and right now it’s the perfect relationship. In the grand scheme of a lifetime the newborn phase flies by. So I’m just trying to slow it down a bit this time and let me tell you, H isn’t protesting this at all.

intrigue and scandal

This morning I found myself putting the wholesome, one gram of sugar Classic Cheerios on a secret underground mission. L has a preference for the more sugar-laded Honey Nut Cheerios. We had a scraping leftover this morning so after she inhaled the first round, I explained we were out of them, and poured her some plain old Cheerios. She responded by throwing her bowl off the table. (our dog was thrilled. she gets most of her nutrition these days from Cheerios who’ve travelled the three foot journey from her high chair to the kitchen floor)

L then proved to me how stubborn she is, pointing, and screaming at the empty box which was innocently standing by the other paper recyclables at the end of the counterspace. Sometimes, inspiration just comes to you. Sometimes, lying is acceptable to your children. It took a clandestine movement, but I deftly switch out out the empty bag from the toast-colored box with the more wholesome plain Cheerios.

She took the bait. The “better for you” Cheerios were eaten with little complaint.

I have fooled at 19-month-old child. My day is complete.

we’ve all felt like this….

 

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Or maybe just me, just lately. Take a look at the anguish, the pain in her face. Did she just bite her tongue? Maybe a loud boom caused her to react in fear. Maybe I yelled at her for spilling her chili everywhere. This face, this scream, this moment captured forever – as far as I can tell, my daughter is upset because I wouldn’t give her chocolate chips for lunch.

Or, at least, that was the catalyst for the fit.

Toddlers and their fits hardly make sense to us. It starts as something small, a request. L is a smart girl and knows which cabinet I keep the chocolate chips in. She pointed to it. “Uggg” she said, standing in her high chair. There are three ways to react to this: go get a handful of chips for her, tell her calmly “No”, or just ignore. Today my method of choice was ignoring her. She doesn’t respond well to “No”.

So, I did what all the gentle parenting books suggest, I tried to distract her. I even gave her a choice. I took out a container of Greek Yogurt, and last night’s chili-and-rice leftovers, and asked her which one she wanted. She pointed to the chili. I heated it up. All the while, she was screaming. Pretty much like this.

I just had a new baby three weeks ago, so I’m getting rather good at tuning out screams and fits. I knew this was passing. Once the chili was ready, she was going to devour it just as happily as she did the night before. So I busied myself cleaning up, trying to talk pleasantly to her, completely ignoring her screams. Having a one-sided conversation with a 19-month-old with a temper and a runny nose is not my idea of a calm Tuesday morning, but I digress.

Five minutes of her incorehently screaming, sobbing and pointing, and the ding of the toaster oven signaled an end. I brought her her food, “Look L, it’s ready!”. She took a bite. As she chewed, silence. Yes! Victorious mom moment! Outsmarted the Toddler!

She swallowed, and it dawned on her. This isn’t chocolate chips. This is something vaguely nutritious. And, thus, the fit returned, with a vengeance. You can see her face, above. This girl is not having it. This girl is pissed. This girl is NOT eating anything but chocolate chips.

I scooped her up, wiped her face, and we went to her room. I sang to her as I cuddled her on the rocker. All signs of the fit, vanished. Who needs lunch anyway? We read one of those annoying sing-song books that kids love and I laid her down for her nap. And the idea that’s been percolating in my head for a few weeks really took form.

I went down to our basement to start the diaper laundry (I have 2 under 2 in cloth diapers, YIPEE) and this picture I took of my daughter, this picture of her that’s always going to show her in such agony in this moment of her unjust toddler life, I figured it was a good place to start writing about all that is us, this family, and a place for me, the bored suburban mom-of-three.

I’m not a crafty lady. I don’t have lots of tips and tricks for clean living. I’m not one to push my beliefs on people and I certainly don’t have a Dr. Google Degree in alternative parenting styles. But one day I do want to look back on this crazy time and writing is the best way I can remember it. So here I am, beginning something.

L is napping right now. My newborn H is in the swing, sighing and grunting as he sleeps. My big boy is at school, eagerly taking in his first grade classes. And I’m here, with a cup of stale coffee by my side, taking a moment purely for me. That face above, that screaming face from my mini-me, I feel it often inside even if I can’t express it because I’m supposed to be a 33-year-old adult, but just like Lulu in her room is calm, so am I, right now.