Friday, July 03, 2009

This is your brain on parenting

Before the hospital discharged me, Don and I had to attend a short class on baby care. It was 'optional', but you know how these things are, and it included a lunch. The class essentially boiled down to 'how to not kill your baby and/or yourself': SIDS, shaken baby syndrome, post-partum depression, as well as a video about soothing fussy babies. One topic the nurse covered was 'babies accidentally left in the car: they DIE', and she suggested that, whenever we put the baby in his car seat, we also put a purse, cellphone, or similar in the backseat, that we would retrieve before leaving the car. Part of me thinks that this is pretty clever, because sure, nobody is going to leave their handbag in the backseat if she's going shopping or whatever. But a bigger part is wondering, who is going to forget the baby but remember the purse? Since he was born, Robert occupies about 90% of my brain-space. I am literally thinking about him all the time, even, apparently, when I'm asleep. (I wake up to nurse him, about 30 seconds to a minute before he actually wakes up hungry. I don't know how.) If you try to talk to me about other, supposedly interesting things-- Iran, Michael Jackson, or lyin', cheatin', Republican senators-- I will attempt to be polite for maybe a minute before bringing the conversation back to the baby... did I mention that he's started smiling for real? I'm surprised that my friends are still answering my calls, to be honest. So the idea that one could forget the baby in the car baffles me. Forgetting anything else, yes... I keep walking into the kitchen and wondering what I came there for (I generally assume that I wanted some orange juice, so we're going through it pretty fast), but forgetting Robert, even for a second? I wonder what percentage of those cases involved mothers, as opposed to fathers or babysitters, because I can't be the only new mom whose mind has been completely re-wired by her baby.

Someone just knocked on my door, offering me an invitation to a talk on how to survive the End of the World. I was, unfortunately, both changing Robert's diaper and completely topless (you fellow nursing mothers will understand) when I heard the knock, and would have ignored it completely if I hadn't thought that it was either FedEx or a neighbor. (We keep getting presents. It's amazing. The thank-you-card guilt is starting to keep me up at night.) So I answered the door wearing Don's undershirt, inside out and backwards, holding a half-dressed baby. Having read the flier, it seems that becoming a Jehovah's Witness is key to survival, which is too bad because I was hoping it was more of a Peak Oil sort of End. I know a lot of people get pissed off at religious people going door to door, but I think it's sort of nice, as long as they're not pushy. I mean, they're trying to save me. That's nice, right? What the heck do they get out of the deal, besides bragging rights or whatever at church? I wonder how many people are so easily influenced, that a flier on their doorstep changes their religious beliefs? It can't be that many.

Robert has just officially* outgrown the 0-3 month size and is now in 3-6 month. All I can say is that I'm glad we're planning on having more babies, because half of our 0-3 stuff hasn't even been worn yet. Maybe the next one will be a seven-pounder? I already have goals for the next pregnancy: GAIN LESS THAN 50 POUNDS. HAVE SMALLER BABY. HAVE EASIER BIRTH.

I have finally found a baby carrier that I like. We have a front-pack carrier, a Baby Bjorn, but I could never seem to get it adjusted right, even with all the straps and buckles. It just seems so high-tech and complicated; Don said that it looked like something you could use to rappel down a mountain. It is big and made of nylon, and doesn't breathe. I also have a Hotsling, but don't like it, either. The hold just seems so precarious that I have to keep one arm still wrapped around the baby, and he seems so squished-up in there. It hurt my back and was really bad for my posture-- I seemed to sort of hunch over the baby. Tuesday, though, I bought a Mei Tai carrier, and I think our search is over because it is awesome. It holds Robert upright, which he prefers, and balances his weight across both of my shoulders, like the front-pack. But, it is soft, flexible, and breathable, made of cotton. There aren't any buckles, the straps just tie wherever you need them, which is so much easier. We used it this morning at Whole Foods, solving the problem of where to put the food when the car seat is taking up the whole cart. It feels very secure, and Robert feels lighter in it, than in the other carriers. I think it disguises how big he is, because one woman thought that he was tiny! She asked how old, and when I said that he was five weeks on Wednesday, she asked if he had been a preemie. Uh, no. I told her that he had been ten pounds at birth and was now almost thirteen, and she said that was bigger than her 10-week-old, and he must just look small in the carrier. I guess we are the Goldilocks of baby carriers... I'm just glad that the first two were second-hand. Can't wait to try it at the Farmers' Market tomorrow!

Breastfeeding update: it's getting better. Feeding Robert is now only irritating/ uncomfortable, down from 'incredibly painful'. My breasts don't hurt as much between times, and my supply seems to be regulating somewhat. I think the thrush is going away. Still can't fathom nursing him anywhere but at home, so we're still really limited in where we can go, and for how long. Need to work on that. I think in another few weeks we'll really have it all together.

*By putting a hole in the toe of one outfit. I was in denial about how snugly they were fitting him, even though Don kept saying, "I really don't think that fits him anymore". 0-3 months, my ass.


ayla said...

We have similar goals for our next pregnancies. However, I'm already started on the weight gain. I got back down to pre-pregnancy weight by about six months, then proceeded to gain ten pounds, which I have NOT been able to shed.

I never used the mei tai for my son as a baby, but I did use the Moby Wrap, which I LOVED.

Anonymous said...

I love our Babyhawk, too. If you're looking for a place to get out (and maybe NIP for the first time), La Leche League meets on Wednesday morning at 10 at the Presbyterian church near Beta Bridge (but park in the back). Glad to read that things are getting better!

lucky little bird said...

Actually, just two days ago someone in our county here in MD left their 23 mo. old in the car for 8 hours. Tragically, the baby died of heat stroke. The parents claimed there had been a change in routine and someone forgot they had the baby. Made me crazy. Someone had to buckle that baby into the carseat -- how could they have forgotten the baby was there?! So I guess they tell you those things for good reason.

Anyway, glad things are going so well for you! We are prego again and have now made it past our first miscarriage mark (thanks to progesterone) -- so we are keeping our fingers crossed. Your success always makes me hopeful!

Mara said...

Oh God, those poor parents. I can't even think about it.

Congratulations on your pregnancy, my fingers are crossed for you!

Steph said...

I am ashamed to admit my child was almost a statistic. I'd just found out I'd miscarried my fourth child. I went to the grocery store to get out of the house and out of my head. I took my 15 month old for company and to give me something to smile about. He fell asleep on the way to the store, so he was silent in the back seat. I was in a hormonal and grief stricken fog. I forgot he was there and I went into the store alone.

Thank God and baby angels that it was a mild 60 degree day (even more bizarre was that it was June.. and by all rights should have been 90 degrees). When I realized I was in the store alone and my child was in the car (the absolute worst 30 seconds of my life) I hit a dead run out of the store and into the parking lot. He was still snoozing quite comfortably in his seat. If it weren't for our darkly tinted van windows, I'm sure someone would have (rightfully!!!!) called the police.

Anyway. Motherguilt I will carry to the grave. But it can happen, even to normally very caring and diligent parents. Distraction happens and it just takes a few minutes to have deadly consequences.