I so love having a little girl. I get to dress her up whenever I want! For a little while, she was wearing little knee-high white socks and some pink shoes… I didn’t get a picture of it though. Maybe I should get her dressed in it again another time, before she outgrows the dress. Hmm.
Anyhow! Last Friday was our first Easter dinner, with Chris’ mother’s side of the family — sort of. More like his aunt-by-marriage’s side, which meant a ton of people we didn’t know, and maybe ten that we did. Ten may sound like a decent amount, but when you consider that there were THIRTY PEOPLE there, it’s not really. And with that many people, Maia was pretty overwhelmed. She definitely had a rough time for the first few hours we were there and I felt horrible; she was crying, didn’t want anyone but me or Chris holding her, screaming whenever someone would get in her face and try to make her happy (what is with that, btw? if you were upset and scared, would you REALLY want a stranger getting in your space, making faces and being loud?). After dinner — which of course I spent in a separate room with her, nursing, and no one thought to bring me my dinner plate, which just sat at the end of the table getting cold (and someone stole my bread off it!) — she calmed down a bit. And in fact, she let other people hold her! One lady that I’m not particularly fond of, the mother of those two boys from Thanksgiving, actually held Maia for a long while, bouncing and walking around the house with her. It was surprising, but awesome.
When we went to leave, Maia was actually good when we set her in her carseat. Usually she’s pissy in the carseat but happy once we get into the car. People crowded around and cooed at her, and she let them see her BIG, dimpled smile.
So then when we got into the car… she was okay, wide-awake though. She stayed awake, watching the shadows play over the roof of the car, looking out of the back window at the streetlights. Of course, this couldn’t last; I was waiting on her to fall asleep, but she decided to start crying instead. I tried a few different things to shush her, but no dice. Eventually we had to pull off the highway so I could feed her. Why she was hungry again after having just been nursed before we left the party is beyond me, but whatever, it worked out.
So Sunday, we were heading to Easter with Chris’ father’s side of the family. The house was literally 15 minutes down the highway. Again, Maia was fed before being put in her carseat, and she was happy; again, she started wailing when we got on the highway, where we encountered massive traffic. Stop-and-go driving does not make my baby very happy. Eventually Chris put his fingertip in her mouth and she suckled on it long enough for us to get to the house, which was kinda nice.
This gathering was MUCH smaller — there were 10 people altogether. One of Chris’ cousins, who has been a nanny before, totally loved Maia and took her out of our hands for most of the night. This was great… I actually got to eat a warm dinner! AT A TABLE!
But guess what happened when we left? Yep, the baby started to scream again as we encountered traffic … on the highway… at 10pm on a Sunday night. If we managed to go 10mph, it was a triumph. Seriously? We’re 15 minutes down the road on a normal day. I managed to quiet her down a little with a rattle, but mostly I just tried to hold her hand as Chris pulled off the highway and zoomed down back streets.
I’m not liking this whole “happy in the carseat, pissed in the car” thing. Especially with the prospect of our trip out to Connecticut in another two weeks!
Girl Talk Thursday is Mommy Melee‘s weekly event, and I really love the thought, so here it comes: my thoughts on the topic of “Sex Shenanigans. Share an embarrassing story”!
There’s really only one to share, because it’s epic.
I’m twenty years old, living in an apartment in Connecticut. This is the only time I’ve been entirely on my own, and it was awesome, if short-lived. It’s the first day — or night, really — that Chris and I have physically met (we got together online!). My mom had mentioned that she might come over and meet him, but after a lot of chatter, a little Red Sox watching, and a dinner of chicken cacciatore, it’s 9pm and we’ve finally decided that she’s not coming over. So we start getting our groove on. I’m pretty sure you can see where this is going.
I’m naked. He’s naked. It’s the beginning of July, I don’t have air conditioning, and it’s brutally humid. I’ve got my front door and all of my windows open (I honestly can’t even tell you if my blinds were drawn) to try and get some nighttime air inside. Of course, the fact that we’re doing the deed doesn’t really help the humidity per se, but that’s okay, we’re having fun. Loudly.
He pauses. “Did you hear something?”
“I think I heard something,” he insists.
“No,” I repeat, and pull him close.
And then, to borrow a phrase from Meatloaf, LIKE A BAT OUT OF HELL, my mother comes storming into the living room where we are. Chris leaps off me and, ass-naked, goes racing up the stairs. I fumble around, grab my bathrobe (the one time in my life that my bad habit of leaving my wet towels wherever the hell I want to has come in handy), and physically get in front of her to block her. She’s screaming: “IS THIS HOW YOU TREAT MY DAUGHTER” etc etc… I’m telling her to stop, to leave him alone, whatever. I mean, this is terrifying. I’ve never seen my mom like this. Hell, I’m pretty sure she’s never seen me like this, in flagrante delicto and all.
Eventually, after much teeth gnashing, she leaves. It turns out that my siblings are in the car with her, and she told them to stay there because she thought she heard “something” through my open windows when they pulled up (whoops). Also, she tells me that maybe I should, you know, CLOSE THE FRONT DOOR if I’m going to be doing the nasty (whoops two).
Lesson learned, right? But here’s the best part:
Chris, my 6’2″, 185lb brown belt in karate, has locked himself in the bathroom. Because my mother, angry, is just that scary.
Yeah, I love you, Mom.
I’ve written about my father before, but here we go again.
A few days after Maia’s birth, a bouquet of flowers arrived at the door. Chris accepted them and read the card — we had no idea who they could be from, since we had seen everyone already, and so I thought maybe they were from him and he was trying to play dumb like “Oh, no, I dunno who sent those.”
His face went blank, and he handed the card to my mother. I was practically bouncing out of my seat: “Who’s it from?” Her lips pursed. She glanced at Chris, then at me, then back at Chris… and handed me the card:
“Congratulations on the delivery of your new baby girl. We’re very proud of you, your Dad loves and misses you very much. Love, Dad & Stepmom”
What the fuck?
I don’t know how to respond. My initial thought was just to send him a thank you card with a picture of Maia. And since then I’ve gone back and forth on whether I should even do that. There are a lot of reasons why I don’t want him in my life, not the least of which is that I don’t want him to feel he has any right to contact my siblings, but then I think… this is my baby’s grandpa. And I remember that he has had two kids with his new wife — they’re my blood, regardless of how I feel about her. Shouldn’t I know them?
I don’t feel like I can ever forgive him. So is it even worth my time to try? Sigh. Two months later and I’m still confused.
The other day, I grabbed the breast pump my MIL bought me and decided to disassemble and wash it. I pulled out the directions as to how to clean it, and broke it down into pieces — or at least, I tried to. The handle part is attached to some blue cup thingie, and to get the blue cup thingie detached, you have to turn it counter-clockwise and match up the dot on the blue cup with the centre of the handle.
So I’m trying to do this. And I can’t get the damned thing to turn far enough to get the dot anywhere near the handle, nevermind the centre of the handle. I started cursing at it (Maia was asleep!) and finally just threw it aside to let Chris handle later, before my brain exploded.
When Chris got home, he read the instructions and tried to follow them. He couldn’t get the blue cup thingie to come off, either.
So he paused. He looked at it. He looked at me. He looked at it again. And then he turned it once more, smoothly, and the blue cap came off. “Oh,” he said.
“How did you do that?” I asked.
“I turned it counter-clockwise.”
We had both been turning it clockwise.
We’re fucking GENIUSES in this house.
This won’t be a chronological retelling of what happened after the birth, but I just wanted to type out a few other random things that I don’t want to forget:
I was apparently very polite during my labour. I remember apologizing to Chris for freaking him out (“I’m sorry, I know this is scary honey”), saying “no thank you” when offered a popsicle, saying “yes please” when asked if I would like some ice chips, etc. But I did lose my cool once: during all of my contractions, Chris was saying breathe, breathe, remember to breathe, and finally after forty minutes of pushing I screamed at him, “SHUT THE FUCK UP ALREADY!” I remember everyone laughing, and the shocked look on his face — and then I apologized for yelling at him.
My legs were trembling — from exhaustion, anxiety, and god knows what else, after Maia was born. At some point as she laid on my chest, I felt a jabbing pain in my left thigh, and yelped. The midwife had jabbed me with a needle to inject some sort of hormone (I could look it up, but I’m lazy — pitocin?) to help ensure contractions would bring out the placenta quickly, but she hadn’t given me warning that she was about to do it right then. We’d discussed beforehand that she’d do it, I just hadn’t expected it at that moment. I was kind of caught up in my baby.
I have no memory of delivering the placenta at all, but I do remember the umbilical cord stretching down my stomach and into my body. It was hot and pulsing, and unexpectedly grayish and translucent looking. Chris did not want to cut it, so once it stopped pulsing, the midwife did. I don’t think any of us even paid attention to the placenta coming out or what happened to it afterwards, so when I found it in a tupperware in the freezer the next day, well… I was pretty surprised, to say the least. Our initial plan had been to give it to our primary midwife, Georgia, who couldn’t be at the delivery, and she could take it to the hospital and burn it — but our plan has been revamped, and my mom has it in her freezer in Connecticut. When we go down to visit this summer, we are going to bury it and plant a tree over it. It will be awesome!
We all chuckled about her being born on Friday the 13th, but at one point the midwives all gasped, and one said: “She’s a very lucky girl indeed” and held up the umbilical cord. It was knotted. One good yank and my baby would have been in distress. The thought still haunts me.
I dealt with the discomfort of stretch & sweeps just fine, as well as, obviously, labour — but when, after the birth and some skin-to-skin time, Sarah took me into the bedroom to check out my tearing and see if she could stitch it, I had a hard time. She and the other midwife poked at my coochie, running their fingers along my tears to check their depth and length, which really fucking stung. I said, “Sarah, that’s REALLY uncomfortable,” and it was — like what I imagine being jabbed with searing, red-hot needles in your most sensitive, battered area would feel like.
What hurt more was when I got to the hospital to be stitched, and the doctor sprayed saline over the tears to clean them. I honestly thought I was going to jump through the ceiling and need to be sedated.
I was separated from Maia because I was at the hospital from 2:30am (she was born at 1:07) until 5am. It felt like an eternity. A midwife stayed at home with Chris and the baby until 4, but he was alone with her for the next 90 minutes. That must have been so crazy for him. As for me, I started to get pretty grouchy with my doctor and her student (the student was doing the stitching) because I really wanted to get home to my family.
That’s all I can think of, for now.
Sometimes I look at my daughter but all I see is my husband.
And it makes me so happy, because I love him so much. These days, I feel like I’m being unfair to him, like I’m not giving him enough attention. I am not the only one feeling overwhelmed, and I need to give him more credit for being as strong and as steady as he is.
Hopefully my lemon meringue pie turns out well… I know he loves his mother’s!
It’s all supposed to get easier after 6 weeks, right? I’m pretty sure that’s because after 6 weeks, your life has been so utterly consumed by the here-and-now of having a new baby that you’ve completely forgotten what it’s like to live any other way, and it only seems “easier” because of that. My mom laughed at the concept of 6 weeks and said “It gets easier after two years!”
Something that makes me sad is the fact that if I were in the US, my maternity leave would be ending. I can’t imagine leaving Maia with a sitter right now — hell, I miss her when she’s just in the other room with her daddy.
Chris talked to MJ, his mother, the other day about how Maia is sleeping in the bed, and now is on a mission to get her back in the bassinet. I told him I’m willing to compromise — we’ll put her down in the bassinet at the beginning of the night, but if she wakes up at some ungodly hour and refuses to sleep again in the bassinet, I’m putting her in the bed. He said she needed to stay in the bassinet. I said “Then you get to take care of her if she won’t lie down, and I’m going to sleep.”
So that night, we lay her in the bassinet for the night and she sleeps, then she’s up at 2:30 for a feeding. I feed her, she falls asleep easily, I put her in the bassinet and she sleeps. She’s up at 4:30, but after nursing and changing, she’s wide awake and doesn’t want to go back to sleep. For an hour, I stay up with her in the dark and calm her down; she starts settling, closes her eyes, and her limbs go limp against me. I try to set her down in the bassinet — she cries. Another ten minutes of soothing, she sleeps; I put her down, she fusses. Another ten minutes. Same thing. So I wake Chris up and say “Guess what, it’s your turn, she won’t sleep in the bassinet for me.”
Now, I could easily have solved this by putting her in the bed with us and letting her sleep there, but the point of this was to make him understand that when it comes to Maia, right now, I KNOW BETTER THAN HE DOES. “She’s not crying,” he says. “She will,” I say, “and so you should grab her and calm her now before she upsets herself too much.” “No, she’ll soothe herself back to sleep,” he says.
A few minutes of fussing later, she starts crying (and I smile). Chris takes her and walks out of the bedroom, and I see a light go on. Whatever, I fall back asleep. I wake up when I hear her cry again, and I decide to go check on them. Chris has all the lights on and is watching television. When I ask him what he’s doing, he gets pissed off and says he’s obviously taking care of her. I said he should obviously be trying to soothe her back into sleep instead of stimulating her with all these lights and sounds. He replies something very nasty that I won’t type here, but it makes me decide that he deserves whatever the fuck he’s doing to himself, and I go back to bed.
Two hours later (I’m impressed at this length of time) he comes into the bedroom and wakes me up. “She’s been awake the whole time,” he says, “you need to feed her, I’m done.”
So I laid her down between us in the bed and nursed her. It was 7:45am at that time. When we woke up, it was 11:30am.
And when she woke up in the middle of the night last night to feed, I took her out of the bassinet, laid her between us, nursed her, and we slept like that. He hasn’t said a word about it.
Because, yes, I know best.
Maia is almost always the most wonderful baby in the mornings. She is responsive and loving, super aware of everything around her, and although I’m definitely not a morning person, she makes it worth waking up every day. Here is a little video of her daddy taking advantage of her good mood:
Maia’s been back to her normal quiet, happy self today. We’ve gone for a few walks and she’s taken a few naps. There were some errands that needed to be run this evening, so I left her with Chris (they were snuggling, and quite content to be with one another) and went out. When I got home at 7pm, they were asleep; they’re still asleep right now. AND I MISS HER. It’s totally quiet in the house right now so that as soon as she starts fussing around and being hungry, I can hear her and respond.
If I were smart I’d be napping right now, but it feels kind of nice to have some time to myself. Maybe a shower is in order!
Yesterday was the longest day of my life. Maia woke up at 8:30am and slept only for half an hour between then and 11:30pm, because she had brutal gas and just could not settle down. This also meant that she was in my arms all day long for comfort, and although I managed to squeeze in a few quiet minutes with her in her swing, bouncy chair, or in Daddy’s arms, for the most part I was lugging around my baby all day. Not such a bad thing in general, but a bit tougher when she’s screaming in my ear randomly. Physically, I was exhausted; mentally and emotionally, I felt worn out and abused. It’s so goddamned hard to see her in pain and not be able to do anything about it.
We’ve tried KOLIK brand gripe water — it doesn’t really work for her. Our midwife suggested some homeopathic remedy to give her “in case of a crisis” (which yesterday certainly qualified as), but we haven’t picked it up yet and I can’t tell you what it is because it’s written on a piece of paper in Chris’ wallet. We may try Mylicon or some other thing as well, because honestly, by the end of the day our nerves were so damned frazzled — Chris swore off ever having another child! — and I’ve never had to be so patient in my life (welcome to motherhood?). Massage techniques like running my hands down her bare belly repetitively, pumping her legs up to her stomach, and rubbing her tummy in circles would work well for a few minutes, but once they calmed her down and I picked her back up, she’d eventually get agitated again. Fortunately though, once she did fall asleep around 11:30pm, she was OUT for 5 hours, until Chris came to kiss us goodbye on his way to work.
Today is Chris’ first day back at work after his month of parental leave (which the government still has not paid him for at all… wtf?). So far, Maia’s been her NORMAL peaceful self, sleeping in until 11am. When she woke up, I put her in the Bjorn and we took the dogs out together, and she fell back asleep in it, and she’s sleeping in there now as I type this up. I swear this thing is a miracle worker (I tried it yesterday — she fell asleep and ten minutes later woke up crying from gassiness).
I had a dream last night that took place back in high school. And while it was surprisingly fun, at one point I saw someone with a baby and I got panicky: where’s Maia? I kept saying it over and over in my dream, growing increasingly hysterical, until finally I woke up — to see her lying there beside me, and I calmed down.
There are so many ups and downs involved in all this parenting stuff. Everyone says the first 6 weeks are the toughest with a newborn, and we’re through 4 of them. Really, if her digestive system would just hurry up and finish maturing, we’d be happy 100% of the time!