Saturday, May 24, 2014

Mama Guilt

There you are, playing on your floor mat. And here I am, on my computer. I'm not ignoring you, but I'm not interacting with you, either. When you go to bed, or when I drive away to work, I will feel like I haven't spent enough time with you. I will be flooded by the knowledge that you are growing and changing every day, and that I don't want to miss it. I will battle the mama guilt about whether or not I have made the right choices.
Every day I am torn between giving you space to become independent, competent, strong... and giving you attention to know that you are loved. I can't find the middle ground no matter how hard I try. Or maybe I'm found it and just have no solid confirmation, because in parenting, that's a thing that doesn't exist.
When you smile at me from across the room, is it a just a smile? Are you happy there? Or are you trying to entice me to come play with you? You don't seem discontent, but you're a baby. The life you have is the only life you know. If you could understand everything, what would you ask for? Would you thank me for letting you discover things on your own? Do you appreciate the time to move freely and concentrate on your toys without interruption? Or are you lonely? You are not one to cry or even fuss unless something is very bad, and even then you calm easily. So maybe you are sad and lonely, missing me even as you play. It sounds overly dramatic to ask if you play with your toys for something to do while you wait for me to come back to you, but I can't help wondering if that is what happens sometimes.
And honestly, I need some time to just be. I always want to be with you, I love being with you, but there are things that I need that come from other sources. And yet, I'm gone so much. Every day I go to work and you stay home with daddy, and then I feel like spending even a minute on anything else is squandering our precious time together. But I do it anyway. Because even people like me, whose whole lives are focused on children, who waited and longed for a baby to come to them, who felt bittersweet pangs of emotion every time another person's child told us they loved us... even we need some time to not be responsible for anything. We're still human. But those minutes are paid for in guilt; in fully understanding that every second spent on something else is a second away from this tiny person who rules our hearts, who depends on us and loves us like no other; a person whom we love like no other, and who is constantly changing and needing different things. Because our time isn't our own anymore, even though it is. So those stolen moments are bittersweet, too.
I hope that when all is said and done, when you are an adult fully responsible for your own life, you will be glad I made the choices I did. I hope you don't feel like I abandoned you, and only your dad was there when you needed someone. I think that you will, but something like this is too important to be content with uncertainty. And yet I can't know, now, whether or not I am doing the right thing. I can only do my best.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Cloth Diaper Time!

Lila will be 4 weeks old on Tuesday and we've been cloth diapering about 75% of the time. We got a cloth diaper trial from our local cloth diapering store, and unfortunately I'm not a big fan of the ones that it included. Good thing there are a ton of different brands to try! We're using the trial diapers, still, while we wait for Lila to grow into her one size diapers. Her waist fits, but her legs are too slender still.
Anyway, we've found a few diapers that work really well for her! I love the Rump-a-Rooz Lil Joey on her, but we only have two because the diapers will only fit until 12 pounds or so. They might last a little longer because she is tall for her weight. But since she was already about 9lbs when we first tried them, and they are $30/2, it seemed silly to buy a bunch of them now. I'd like to get about 10 more when we're ready for number 2, though. They're so soft and easy to use, plus the inner shape seems more comfortable because it is more of a cup than a wrinkly mass of fabric. They're also quite trim, and they have an umbilical cord snap-down which will make them fit our next baby right away without me worrying about irritating the cord stump.
The other diaper I really like on her is the Newborn Blueberry Simplex. They also have a cord snap down. They're a little bigger, but still a good fit with only one leak so far, which was at night and it was perhaps on a little too long. I do change her before I nurse at night, but sometimes she goes 4 or even 5 hours asleep. This diaper is supposed to last until 16 pounds, which is a lot longer than the Lil Joeys. They're a little bit more expensive, about $18 each, but you can buy them singly so it's easier to slowly build up a stash.
Both of these diapers are hard to find used, and when I have spotted them they are priced nearly as much as if they were new. It kind of stinks right now, because it's hard to find a good bargain... but I also know they hold their value so when we don't need them anymore we can sell them and get back some of our cost.
I definitely want to try some new kinds of diapers, though, which is kind of the point of this post. I'm entering a bunch of contests, and one of them gives extra entries for sharing the link in a blog post. It's a giveaway for Ella Bella Bum, Glow Bug, and Green Line diapers, none of which I have tried yet. It also includes a prefold diaper and two sets of boingos. Here's the link to the giveaway!

Friday, January 10, 2014

A day in the Life of a Two Week Old Baby

This has been Lila's basic schedule for quite a few days now.

5:30 am - start making weird noises in my sleep, but be silent and still whenever mom looks at me. Until she lays back down and can't see me anymore. Then make more weird noises. Appropriate choices include groaning, grunting, coughing, choking sounds, and squeaks. Bonus points for putting them together in the scariest combinations, like coughing, then choking sounds, and then utter silence.

6:15 am - Mom decides she can't handle the crazy noises and decides if she feeds me I might sleep better. Make faces and squirm while she changes me, then half-heartedly nurse for 30 seconds. Flail around wildly with my baby talons, and punch her in the breast multiple times. Make mouth gape like a fish so Mom thinks I'm still hungry and will put up with this abuse. Repeat for 30 minutes.

6:45 am - Pretend to be asleep. When mom gets settled in bed, start making weird noises again. Repeat until she brings me in the big bed.

7:15 am - am I feeling generous? If so, sleep for an hour or two in the big bed. If not, keep making weird noises until Mom decides she's not going to get any more sleep, and the noises might wake up Dad. When she takes me out to the living room, promptly fall asleep there.

From arrival in the living room to 8:30 pm:

Is mom reading, watching TV, or surfing the internet? Sleep peacefully and wake up occasionally to nurse, then fall right back asleep immediately. Easily accept diaper changes. Generally be adorable, especially while alert.
Is Mom cooking, cleaning, or filling out paperwork? Fuss and demand to nurse, but only for a few minutes at a time. Then fall asleep, but only until Mom puts me down and goes back to what she was doing. Then wake up and demand to nurse again. Accept snuggles from Dad but only for a little while. Then demand to nurse again. When Mom changes my diaper, pee or poop after the old one has been opened but before the new one is in place. Fuss and flail around wildly while Mom tries to clean me and replace my diaper. Still be adorable and melt into Mom's arms while nursing, but don't let her put me down!

8:30 pm - Get the hiccups. Demand to nurse but instead shake my head around with my mouth open and attack with my little baby fists until Mom manages to shove her nipple in my mouth. Immediately eat like I'm starving for not more than 3 minutes. Fall asleep. Sleep peacefully UNLESS Mom tries to put me down. Then cry. If Mom tries to soothe me without picking me up, cry louder. Accept snuggles from Dad but only for a little while. Then demand to nurse again. Cough, sneeze, and have painful gas that requires constant bouncing or leg pedaling. Generally be miserable, sad, or angry. Continue so for about 3 hours.

11:30 pm - Finally have gotten enough milk from dozens of attempts at nursing, accept snuggles from Dad, and let Mom go to bed. Fall asleep in his arms but wake up immediately and angrily if he tries to put me down, or after thirty seconds. Whichever comes first. Settle easily but do not sleep for more than a minute. Repeat for at least 30 minutes, up to an hour and a half.

12:00 - 1:00 am - accept sleep and transfer to bed.

2:30 am - Make weird noises until Mom comes to feed me. Eat for 15-30 minutes and fall asleep. Accept transfer to bed. Sleep peacefully until about 5:30.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Becoming a Mother

Yesterday I read a beautiful, evocative piece about becoming a mother. And it touched my heart; in many ways it describes my experience. But it also doesn't - in fact, the main concept of the post has not been my experience at all. 
You see, the post is about how the women we were before giving birth are dead, irretrievably gone; how we will never get that person back. And how, while we are (in most cases) thrilled to become this new person, this mother, it is normal and natural and expected to mourn the loss of those individuals we used to be.
But I don't feel that way at all. I miss some things about not being a parent, sure. But they are trivial, minute; not even remotely close to the center of my being. They're things like sleeping uninterrupted all night long, or not dousing myself in milk whenever I try to go bra-less. Tiny, unimportant things. Not even on the scale when compared to the wonder of this tiny person that came out of love.
I imagine most women don't throw themselves wholeheartedly into this whole motherhood thing until they actually become mothers. That's logical. But me? I have been preparing for this baby my whole life. I was just figuring out how to be a whole person by myself when I met her father, and it was the easiest thing in the world to slip into motherhood. It's like I finally became myself when she was born. Like I hatched, or blossomed. It was something I had been anticipating with barely contained enthusiasm; my only fear was that I would never manage to achieve it.
I've written before about how people often used to tell me not to rush into this stage of my life. Clearly they were people who mourned the loss of their old selves, and I don't judge them for that. It's completely understandable; it's just not my experience.

Maybe I missed out on who I could have been; maybe I don't mourn my loss because I wasn't anyone worth mourning. But I don't think of it that way. I think of who I am now as exactly who I was before, plus something undefinable. So maybe, just maybe, the difference for me is that I have always been on this path and never had to take a fork in the road. I'm not missing out on anything because for me, any other path was unthinkable.
She calls it:
"a human, adult reaction to a giant shift in identity, a presence of mind recognizing the end of an entire chapter of life, a heart mourning the woman that once was, and a soul shaking under the weight of a new giant world."
And for me, it didn't feel like an entire chapter of life, but rather a preface, a prelude to truly becoming. Because in my heart, I was always here. It isn't a new world. It's a world that I've been staring at for years, from outside, delving in shallowly here and there with other people's children, waiting for the day that I could call it home.
And now that I can, no part of me is in mourning. Rather I am celebrating. Quietly, yes, internally. And maybe the day will come that I will mourn. After all, I'm only two weeks into motherhood. But for now, I'll just enjoy it.