Thursday, January 04, 2007

A Step Too Far

No idea what the title means. Perhaps we shall find out as today's post begins to write itself.


What's today, Thursday? I'm losing track of days lately. What with the holiday, and the altered work schedule, and no school, and then the kids being tracked out (year-round school yo, the mini-peeps are out for an extra 3 weeks) which necessitates me working from home, I'm kind of lost in the whole "pattern of days" thing.

Ya know what? I LOVE it.

It's nice to have days unfold as they will, with minimal impact and even less planning. Far less stress involved in working at the kitchen table than riding 50 minutes each way to sit in an office and do the EXACT SAME THING there that one could do at, say, one's kitchen table.

I should, however, look into some more comfortable kitchen chairs, because a few hours on this wooden puppy has the power to render even MY copious derriere numb.

So the surroundings are comfy, the laundry can be done as a relaxed pace, the phone's right THERE if I need it, and the kids aren't costing us an arm and a leg to take care of when all they really want anyhow is to sleep as late as possible, hang out at home, and take 2-hour baths in the big tub.

The only other occasions when I've had unobstructed' time at home like this was after the birth of the Things, and, well I was pretty much OUT OF MY HEAD after the birth of Thing 1 and so couldn't enjoy it as much as I might have otherwise. Oh sure, I was capable of noticing if the sun was going UP or DOWN, or if the baby needed to be fed or changed or fed or changed or........but not much else made its way into my hormone-addled brain during many of the weeks that passed after the long-awaited delivery (2 days of labor! Yay!) of Thing 1.

That particular postpartum period sucked major butthole. Here's a shocking insight into how bad it was.....I was NOT your glowing happy mother, oh no. I was irritated. I was pissed off at being made the sole purveryor of care for this bundle of nerves and poop. I hated nursing. I hated changing diapers. I hated coming home from the hospital with 13 episiotomy stitches and an upper respiratory infection. I hated being so sick and tired that any time I sat down I would fall asleep. I hated not knowing what I was doing. I hated not being able to understand why my baby cried every night for 4 hours, and why he would NOT sleep anywhere but on my chest. Quite frankly, I hated the intrusion on my life. I had fantasies about running away and only coming back when the baby was potty trained.

Oh yes, I was the very MODEL of your post-partum depression mommy. Only I didn't know it. I kept thinking that I should be able to DO this, I should be able to take care of just one baby, that women in poverty-stricken third world countries birthed their babies in rice paddies and went right back to work, that I was failing as a mother to this child we'd gone through so much to have and my baby deserved so much better, that whatever I did was never ever going to be good enough. I kicked myself over and over for not being GOOD at the mommy thing. I cried constantly. I was a total emotional and physical wreck, and was sinking fast under the weight of this horrible time.

Ain't that somethin?

Can you see Tiff like that?

Well, I'm here to tell you that I was like that. JUST like that. I look back on that chapter in my life and wonder how nobody put me in the looney bin. I was quite insane, I know that know. Anyone who wakes up in the nursery rocking chair in the middle of the night and can't find the baby because he's asleep on her FEET should suspect some degree of crazy has crept in.

The crazy was encompassing, and because I tried to hide it, seemed endless.

And yet, about 6 weeks into the Mommy thing, I was over the infection, the episiotomy had healed (therefore I was no longer afraid of the bathroom), our pediatrician commiserated with us that the first 6 weeks of babies were "nothing but a grind" (and he had THREE kids), I got into the swing of nursing (mostly), and Thing 1 stopped crying every night for 4 hours (bliss!).

Thus the heavens opened and the angel choir began to sing Hallelujiahs as the trumpets blared in celebration of the reinstitution of sanity in the head of the Tiff. And it was good.

The remainder of my time at home with Thing 1 passed much more easily. Oh, I still fell asleep every time I sat down, but that was because I WANTED to, not because I couldn't help myself. I still thought I could do a better job of mommy-ing, but realized that perfection, if there is such a thing, was always going to escape me and I needed to chill the hell out already (as it is, I believe we were successful in overstimulating Thing 1 with all the mobiles and red and black toys and crap).

It was good to let go of the anxiety. It was good to relax, if only a little bit.

When I found out I was expecting Thing 2 (who was conceived 10.5 months after Thing 1 was born...oops!), I know I was afraid of what would happen AFTER the baby was born. By this time I knew I'd had PPD, and was determined to NOT let that happen again.

As it turns out, not a shade of it appeared. I came home after 4 days in the hospital with a fresh c-section scar, a wonderful little boy baby (who I KNEW how to take care of, given the experience with Thing 1), no upper respiratory infection, and confidence. Made all the difference in the world, I tell you, all the difference.

(ASIDE - Plus, my in laws were there right away.....doing laundry, cooking meals, entertaining Thing 1. I highly recommend soliciting all the help you can get when a new baby comes home. Seriously. Get MORE than you think you're going to need. LOTS more. I didn't do this after Thing 1 was born, and it only served to add to my exhaustion and sense of worthlessness.)

That time, I could enjoy my time at home. The late spring days rolled along peacefully, no calendar announced the passing of time, no schedule pressed itself onto our lives. It was, looking back on it, one of the BEST times in my life.

Ain't THAT somethin?

I say it is.


I TOLD you I didn't know where this post was going. Serves you right for reading all of it.

I guess all of this is to say that, if you know a family that's going to have a baby, don't just OFFER to help, go on over and HELP (after calling first, of course). If YOU'RE going to have a child soon, don't EVER turn down offers of help, ever. LET PEOPLE DO STUFF FOR YOU!!!!! Other arms can hold your child while you shower. Other hands can fold your laundry, or cook your dinner, or sweep your floors. Other people can go to he grocery store for you, or sit with your child while YOU escape for a little. It's OK to let people do things for you or the baby.

You will ALWAYS be its Mom or Dad, and nothing can change that.

Sure wish I'd been smart enough to heed that advice eleven years ago!

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