Monday, July 9th, 2012
There’s a superpower that comes with having a toddler and an infant: The Ability to Function on Very Little Sleep. Personally, I’d rather have the ability to fly, but we take what we’re given.
Four hours straight? That counts as a full night. Three two-hour increments? Yes, please. Even five consecutive hour-long naps is better than nothing. Which is only a little less than what I got the other night.
I overshot my caffeine intake. Then, on more than one occasion, Roy decided he needed my body (and only my body) next to him in his big boy bed. Vera threw extra nursing sessions and a 3 AM solo dance party into the mix. The next day, I was a drooling, zoned-out shell of a woman with the patience of a hummingbird. So pretty.
My friend Liz up the street has kids roughly the same age as mine. That night, she posted on Facebook: “Need a new bedtime routine for chubby buddy Frank, our current state of affairs is DRIVING ME FRIGGING BONKERS!”
Desperate, yes. But the fact that she possessed the energy to use all caps and an exclamation point told me she had yet to hit bottom.
Liz and I often have super interesting conversations. They go something like this:
Me: “Yeah, we didn’t get much, OK, hey, please stop that Roy. Let’s do something else, OK? Thanks, sweetie. Uh. What was I saying?”
Liz: “Sleep. I know. He cried for two hours straight last night. I don’t, um, Vivi, let’s go upstairs then. Here we go! Up!”
Me: “Yeah, I’m not sure if it’s teething or a growth, uh, whatever. Spurt. Growth spurt. Spurt’s a word, right? Spurt?” [Baby starts crying.] “Hey, little lady! What’s wrong?”
Liz: “Yeah, spurt. I know. Who knows? I’m thinking about letting him cry it out. Here you go, Viv.”
Me: “Shhh. It’s OK. Shhh. Hold on a sec?”
And then we solve world peace. The end.
With Clint it’s an unfair pairing. He’s more well rested, which is good for him. Yay, I’m happy for him, getting all that great rest. So happy.
Working against him: The fact that he’s my husband and therefore should know how to read my damn mind.
Me: “Please put that thing back in the, um, thing for me. Would you?”
Clint: [Pause.] “First: What thing?”
Me, gesturing: “The, uh. You know.”
Clint: “No. I really don’t.
Me: [Staring, with eye daggers.] “C’mon. Help me here.”
Clint: “I want to.”
Me: “Do you? The thing!”
And then he hands me a bottle of really good wine, which I drink, and then I “sleep” all night long. The end.
Friday, September 2nd, 2011
When I was pregnant with my first child, I was overwhelmed and terrified. I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Just how painful would labor be? Once the baby was here, how would I figure out what to do with it? When I took it with me to buy groceries, for example, where, exactly, would I store it? In the card she gave me at me baby shower, my best friend Konnie wrote, I think I’m more excited about this baby than you are. I think she was right.
During my final of stretch pregnancy, I ran into an acquaintance whom I hadn’t seen in awhile. He has two kids—twins—who at the time were about five. He immediately dove into a story about how he’ll never forget those first months, how absolutely exhausted he was. He and his wife worked opposite shifts. She’d come home from work to find him laying on the floor, out of his mind with sleeplessness, both babies crying. Then he’d force himself upright and go to work in a zombie state. Reverse roles, repeat story, day after day after day.
“That sounds awful,” I said, horrified.
“Oh, no,” he quickly responded, snapping out of his nostalgic haze once he realized he’d inadvertently appalled me. “It was great. I really miss those days.”
Miss? What in the world was he possibly talking about, miss?
Then I had my baby, and I got it. Those first few sleepless months really are pretty terrible, full of tears and doubt and body fluids, and at the same time, somehow, they’re absolutely amazing. I distinctly remember sitting in my living room, unshowered and half-asleep, with rock-hard breasts leaking milk and a monstrous maxi pad dealing with the ridiculous mess still going on down there, staring at my new baby boy thinking, I can’t believe he’s mine, forever and ever. I felt like the luckiest person alive. Possibly the grossest as well, but I kind of didn’t care.
Lately, people have been asking me if I’m scared to have a newborn again. I’m not. This time, I have a good idea of what I’m heading into. I now know that the pain of labor is indescribably beyond beyond, and that you can plop a newborn, carseat and all, directly into the back of your shopping cart. And I know that those first few months will alternate between terrible and beautiful, and that when I’m smack-dab in the middle of them, I probably won’t enjoy them much at all.
But I also know that they will, eventually, be over, no matter how never-ending they feel. And when enough time has passed, I’ll even miss them. In the blink of an eye, I’ll be the veteran parent with a five-year-old and a seven-year-old, nostalgic about the newborn days in my rearview mirror. I’ll see the deer-in-the-headlights look in a soon-to-be mama’s eye and scare the crap out of her by reminiscing fondly about the good ol’ bad days, unable to explain how parenthood can be so incredibly difficult and yet so absolutely worth it. She’ll get it, eventually. It’s one of those things where you kind of have to be there.