People ask a lot how old N will be when the baby is born. When I tell them, they say, almost without fail, “oh, that’s perfect. He’ll never remember life before her.” I don’t know why this is such a good thing. Continue reading
I am a terrible sleeper. I have always been a terrible sleeper. Or, rather, I am an AWESOME sleeper as long as it’s daytime/at a desk/in an interminable staff meeting or a moving car/plane/train/subway car. I just can’t sleep when I’m supposed to. As a kid, I was afraid of kidnappers and masked robbers and crawly things under the covers. I always thought it was unfair that grownups, who are big and strong and brave, get to sleep with other grownups, and kids, who are vulnerable to things that go bump, have to sleep alone. Continue reading
I am talking to Tough-Love Mommy (TLM) one day, asking her something or other about baby sleep, a topic that obsesses and terrifies me. She shrugs, looks anywhere but directly at me, and proceeds to tell me guiltily about her children’s insanely perfect sleep habits. When my chin hits the floor in awe of babies that sleep like frat boys, she says, “good baby sleep is like Fight Club: the first rule is you don’t talk about it.”
Baby sleep: the reason for all misery in the early months (or year, in our case). It’s nightmarish for every parent at some point or another –except, apparently, for ALL OF MY FRIENDS, whose babies sleep until 8:00 in the morning and take 3 hour naps. I hate everyone. Those bastards aside, though, MOST parents have to deal with the hardest stuff right when they are least equipped to handle it. How can anyone so sleep-deprived deal with sleep journals and controlled intervals and apps that track every minute your baby sleeps? Dick move, universe.
I read all the books. Back and forth on the spectrum that has nursing-until-age-five on one end, and approximating-Eastern-European-orphanage on the other. I just don’t know who (oh, fine: WHOM) to believe. They all claim to be experts, they all have people who swear by their methods, and they all say something different. Oh, and they all intimate that if you don’t do it their way, BAD THINGS will happen. And it will be your fault.
One of them says that you should never rock your baby, because it will always need to be rocked. You should hold your crying baby upright against your chest and stand perfectly still. Ummm…even someone who has never held a baby will rock; it’s instinct. For the first few weeks after I came home from the hospital, I rocked on my feet even when someone else was holding the baby. Another one said you should never pick your child up until he’s crying so hard he throws up, because then he’ll associate crying with being comforted. Which, as it turns out, is… bad? And one I will never forget: you shouldn’t develop a long bedtime routine, because then you’ll be stuck doing it every night. Isn’t that the best part of having a baby? Call me crazy, but if you don’t want to be stuck scrubbing a naked giggling baby, putting him into footie pajamas, reading him stories that require touching the fuzzy/furry/squishy page, and watching him fall asleep in your arms, perhaps what you are looking for is a ficus.
I get hung up on the fact that all mammals sleep curled up with their babies, and that sleep training asks us to ignore all our most basic maternal instincts. I hate it. On the other hand, there’s maternal instinct and then there’s SURVIVAL instinct. At some point, dude, you have to SLEEP. As TLM told me, “don’t worry– you’ll know when he’s fucking with you.” And I did. After months of feeling like N would never sleep if he wasn’t strapped to a human body, he learned how to do it. Hallelujah! Saints be praised! My baby can now fall asleep on his own! Without crying! He doesn’t need me to rock…wait. Hold on. Now I’m depressed.
Before I get pregnant, I know exactly what kind of pregnant person I’m going to be. I’ll lose weight at first (from the nausea. Oh, and the not drinking), and I’ll stay active, going to the gym or to yoga or whatever. I am not going to let pregnancy turn me into a super lazy fat person. As it turns out, I LOVE being pregnant, largely because it turns me into a super lazy fat person. I go to the gym exactly once and yoga three times. I eat whatever idiotic thing pops into my head (three words: Totinos. Party. Pizza.), and take a lot of naps. I do walk, mostly out of boredom and restlessness, and I eat a metric shit ton of citrus fruit, because that’s what I crave. Still, in the end I gain 45 pounds. And I would do it again in a HOT second.
Another way I spend my pregnancy, since I’m clearly awesome at predicting the future, is deciding what kind of mother I’ll be. Piece of cake. Here’s what I will and will not do, what I will be fiercely committed to (no tv!) and what I don’t care that much about (germs. meh.)
In a SHOCKING twist, I turn out to be wrong about some of these things. In spite of my best intentions, my most militant based-on-nothing opinions, there are things I cannot stick to. It’s hard to be rigid about stuff while covered in spit-up, trying to identify cry-sounds and hunger cues, and running on adrenaline and fumes. In no particular order:
I will never, ever let my baby “cry it out.” This concept terrifies me from early on. I cannot, will not allow my poor little nursling to scream in his crib, abandoned and alone in the dark. I stick to this for a long time. Don’t get me wrong, when we finally cave and do it, I hate every second. But at some point I realize, dude, my poor little nursling is totally screwing with me. When I’m getting up with him every two hours and he starts laughing the second I walk in the room, it’s time.
I will never, ever let my baby eat junk food. So ambitious. I do pretty well at this– he eats mostly organic, but not being a billionaire, I can’t make this happen all the time. Sometimes I envy how clean his system must be– no Taco Bell! No cheap champagne! No Halloween candy from 2007! On the other hand: restaurants, airplanes, crowded rooms, screaming baby? Here kid, have some french fries.
I will avoid toys that have batteries. Babies are entertained by tupperware and uncooked pasta. Pulling kleenex out of a box is like the height of amusement. Why do I need things that light up and sing songs? All wooden toys for me, thanks. Not being a billionaire, however, means Melissa & Doug gets miiiiighty pricey after a while. Also, one look at my child’s face when he discovered the Fisher Price Baby Grand Piano, and it was all over. For that kind of smile, I can almost forgive that horrible woman for singing “Can you hear the RHYTHM? Can you hear the BEAT?” to the tune of the fucking itsy bitsy spider. I’m lying. I hate her.
My baby will never, ever see TV. We are still doing a solid job with this. I hate the idea of him just staring at effing Dora and effing Boots (I can’t even believe I know that Boots is a thing), when he could be interacting with a living human. This is not to say, however, that I don’t understand the urge. Whereas before I thought my baby’s brain would remain unpolluted because I am a shining example of motherhood, now I have to fight the impulse several times a day to plop him down in front of the Real Housewives of Miami and make myself a martini.
I will use cloth diapers. Sigh. I’m bummed out about this. I really, really wanted to do this one. I did a ton of research, hounded my mommy friends who do it for reassurance that it was easy, and cheap, and totally doable. All of which it is. And I am SICK thinking about those awful diapers taking 500 years to biodegrade. It kind of fills me with self-loathing. Next kid, maybe.
I will do my best not to swear in front of the baby. Yeah. Pretty sure we can all guess how well that’s going. 20 bucks says N is the first kid in his pre-school class to drop the f-bomb.
How about you? What did you swear you’d never do that you totally went back on?