From the Trenches

There are certain realities when you’re home all day with a baby, and it’s so, so easy to forget them until it’s too late and you’re pregnant again when you’re not in baby mode. They’re not ground-breaking, or mind-blowing, or even “Hey, whaddya know?”-worthy, but for what it’s worth, I’m writing down the top 3 of these realities that simply can’t be escaped, if you’re about to tread down a similar weary path yourself one day:

1. Breastfeeding exhaustion. I don’t mean it like, “Oh my gad can this kid EVER stop reaching for my boobies!” but more that you’re just…tired the whole year (or weeks, or year and a half, or whatever) that you’re nursing. I don’t really notice it until the baby’s weaned, and I can actually make it until 9 p.m. without falling asleep sitting up with my chin in my chest like my dad used to do in his recliner when he was in his 60s. But it’s with everything: exercise becomes easier. Chores are actually finished (and, let’s face it, started). Life is different when there’s not a beautiful little Dracula sucking you dry every couple hours. Which I guess makes sense. Either that or I  could just have an iron deficiency or something, but never mind that.

2. The time warp that is a normal day. This afternoon, we got home from school. I fed the kiddos their lunch and tried to put an obviously exhausted Cian down for his nap. He screamed for what seemed like twenty minutes. I picked him up and took him into our bedroom. I started to clean our bedroom. I stopped Cian from crawling face-first down the stairs. I put some shoes away. I stopped Cian from emptying the bathroom trash can onto his head. I folded a sweater. I asked the girls to stop dragging Cian across the floor by his knuckles. I sorted some laundry. I extracted what I think was the paper liner from a shoe box from Cian’s mouth. I put him back in his crib. He screamed. I tried to finish cleaning my room. Cian screamed some more. So I nursed him. He fell asleep while eating. I put him in his crib and sat down to jot down my notes for this, and my neighbor rang the doorbell. And so it went. And yes, the bedroom’s still a mess, but now it’s almost time to start preparing dinner. I see Vietnamese take-out (PHO-bulous!) in our future.

3. Routine (or, if you blow it your entire day will be spent with someone–most likely you–in tears). Cian has been going down for his morning nap around 10 a.m. now, which means that on Tuesdays, when we have his little music class at 9:30 (because we MUST do activities together SO HELP ME), the rest of the day is bonkers. He’s up for his class. He’s happy. Whee!, he says. By the last song, his eyes are red, and he’s throwing himself back in my arms to get to the goods. So I nurse him in the car (Howdy, neighbors!) that’s parked on the side of a busy borough street. He falls asleep in the car afterward for the approximate ten minutes it takes me to get from the music class to the quick errand I’m trying to fit in before picking the girls up from school. And then all hell breaks loose. (Please see reality #2). We have someone coming over to our house tomorrow evening, and at this point I’m thinking of asking him to help jump in with the laundry, because if our visitor doesn’t help fold it all, there’ll be no place for him to sit.

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So that’s it: three realities from a year in the life of a mom with a baby. This is one of those posts that I write solely because in twenty or so years, it’ll be neat to remember exactly what this time was like (and why there’s probably still petrified spit-up on the couch, though I’m sure hoping we maybe have new couches by then, I suppose?), but gosh, if you’re in the thick of it, too…you know. It’s so temporary, this time, but it feels like a whole other world: one that doesn’t operate by normal clocks and calendars and expectations. Until the baby starts crying again, which is what he just started doing right now. Then? Then there’s absolutely no illusion at all that your exhausted, drained, slightly messy self isn’t firmly planted in the here and now.

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This is real life. And boy, is it loud.

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