The day Sabine was born the Professor stood next to my bed with Sabine in the bassinet and a clean diaper in one hand looking vexed. “Umm, I don’t actually know what to do here,” he said.
“I think this is supposed to come naturally….” I said in my drugged up state.
After a little more puzzling and watching our sweet child turn beat read from all the screaming we opted for Plan B and paged a nurse.
“Hey,” I said shyly. “First time parents and we clearly know nothing… how do we change this diaper full of gross black tar?”
I’m pleased to say that today we are diapering champions and I can whip a funky one off, wipe my screaming daughter’s behind and slap another on faster than you can dish up wet food for our cats. While diapering might be easy, the rest of the newborn care is stressful, foreign and a constant struggle. As soon as we figure one thing out, she changes her mind and we need to decode round 550 of red-faced screaming.
During the past two weeks Sabine has earned herself three nicknames: Jelly Bean for the rare and elusive happy baby moments, Sabine the Dancing Queen for the ten times a day when she is squirming around making poops and toots and Sabine the Drama Queen for the rest of the time. I’ve learned a lot about our daughter’s likes and dislikes during these challenging first weeks.
- Being held by mama
- Having a boob in her mouth
- Enjoying “snuggly baby” (she will release the boob, snuggle up as close to my body as she can get and nap)
- Taking walks in the stroller
- Looking at the closet doors (something about the texture fascinates her)
- Peering around my arm during feeds to peek outside
- Skin-to-skin nap sessions
- Nursing while mama takes a poop (really kid? between you and the cats it’s like a party in the bathroom 24-7)
- Her co-sleeper
- The spiffy little rocker we bought for her one sleepless night (she loved it for exactly three days and now it is REJECTED)
- Being burped
- Being changed
- The baby K’tan
- Cold wipes (I am eating my words after making fun of people and their wipes warmers. This kid screams bloody murder as soon as a cold wipe touches her bum.)
- Having the boob removed from her mouth
- Being handed to daddy (poor, poor Professor)
- Having to wait five minutes for snuggly baby time so mama can make some lunch
- Being dressed
- Being undressed
- Being strapped into her car seat
- The Snugglider (this was a big love of hers for the first week and a half. The last few days, though, and it is hell hell hell.)
- Having the massive amounts of eye crud and milk crusties wiped from her face.
- Baths – Our child hates being bathed so much that we went… are you ready for this…. a full week before we tried to bathe her ourselves. We were planning to wait four days for her next bath but she had the worlds hugest spit up IN THE MIDDLE OF BABIES R US and we had NO diaper bag or wipes to clean it up. Instead I used my shirt and skirt to clean her face and we rushed home worrying that Child Services might be waiting on our doorstep when we arrived. A bath was then a necessity. As was a lot of screaming from her and crying from me.
You can tell our list of dislikes is growing faster than our list of likes. It should not surprise us that two very opinionated and stubborn people have produced an opinionated and stubborn child. But it does. I had convinced myself that we’d have a very laid back child who would leave us wondering for all the years if our embryo had been switched with the embryo of some chill couple from the coast. In my imagination Sabine would grow up exasperated saying, “My mom is such a spaz and her OCD is out of this world. You should see her scrub the grout. And my dad? Wow, his ADD is so out of control he can’t focus on a project for more than five minutes. I honestly don’t know where I came from…”
But we are learning. I’m learning that the only way she and I will get some sleep is if she sleeps on me. I go to bed at 8 p.m. each night and get three hours of baby-free sleep while the Professor watches bad TV with his screaming girl. I wake up at 11 for a feed and to relieve him of baby duty. Sabine spends the rest of the night camped out on my chest in the guest room while the Professor sleeps upstairs. I worry constantly about the safety of this sleeping arrangement, but my doula and several more experienced mamas have said it really is ok if you take proper precautions. So far our bed sharing is working pretty well and I’m starting to love having my child with me at all times. I love waking up to check on her and kissing her sweet (and often dirty) face.
I’ve learned how to use the Boppy pillow for her to nap on while I type. I strap her down to it with a muslin blanket wrapped around her and pinned under the Boppy. It gives me a few minutes a day to read emails and write blog posts (of which I have four started and zero completed). I’ve learned how to make oatmeal one-handed. I’ve learned how to pet and play with cats while nursing. I’ve learned how to swaddle… sort of. I’ve learned to recognize my breaking point and when to hand her off. I’ve learned that the first weeks of parenthood are lonely, smelly and feel more like a stinky version of Ground Hog Day with the added bonus of chapped nipples. I’ve learned that sometimes babies just have to cry and that sometimes mamas have to cry, too.
In return, Sabine is learning a lot, and it gives me great hope for our future together. I’ve watched her vision improve daily. Googly Eyes are nearly a thing of the past and now her sweet baby blues work together and focus in on my face, the cats and the windows. She has learned how to hold my finger during feeds. She has learned how to nurse while hiccuping, which is both adorable and hilarious. She has learned how to move her arms more deliberately and has recently started putting her hands in her mouth and sucking on them. I see her gaining strength and coordination each day and it makes me so proud that I want to shout from the rooftops, “MY KID JUST TOOK A DUMP WHILE NURSING AND DID NOT HAVE TO STOP!” But I realize no one really cares about this! 🙂
As hard as these past two weeks have been, and as hard as I’m sure the coming weeks will be, I am genuinely happy to be a Mama. I still can’t believe that she is here and that she is mine to keep.
Filed under Parenting.