I remember pregnancy fondly. Not because I enjoyed it, but because it was the most selfishly indulgent time of my life…when I wasn’t dry heaving at the scent of cooked meat.
I had some pretty creative cravings. My mother-in-law believes that you must give a pregnant woman whatever she is craving, or the unborn child will get a birthmark in the shape of that food. So I got: steamed lobster tail, stewed greens with potatoes, Coke with lots of ice, and lavender (ew) shortbread.
My point is, man that was a sweet time. Once the baby was born the amount of care that my family members had for my diet took a nosedive, so for the first five to six months of Penelope’s life, I subsisted off of espresso, water and bread. And Coke.
Why was I so miserable when I was pregnant? I must have subconsciously known that once the baby was born, life (and food) as I knew it would never be the same.
I’ve drawn the completely unscientific conclusion that mothers who are unable to lose their baby weight postpartum must have angel babies that sleep a lot, or nannies. Because it took me six months + of practice to figure out how to eat and take care of an infant.
I’ve been awake since 3 a.m. Penelope woke up at midnight, crying, and too tired to figure out why I just scooped her up and brought her into our bed. She stretched out her arms, turned her little head from left to right to scope out the scene and dozed off for a few sweet hours. At 3 a.m., I woke up to the sound of her plucking her pacifier in and out and babbling da-da, ga-ga, blahhh.
It’s now 9 a.m., and my spunky little 6-month old has finally gone down for a nap, but I’m way too f*ing wired to join her. Three espressos later and I’ve steamed and puréed a week’s worth of baby food, and mentally categorize all of my to-do’s (finish Christmas shopping, scrub toilets, fill fridge with non-baby food, update blog with big development).
On May 23, 2013, we had a 6.5 lb girl that came out kicking and hasn’t stopped since. She doesn’t crawl yet, which is why I have a minute to jot this all down.
It hasn’t been easy. I can barely remember what I did last weekend, and definitely don’t live by any sort of schedule. Most of my decisions weighed heavily on one giant principle: Will this be fun? Babies: regimented lifestyles with no concept of fun.
Babies need to sleep, and you need to teach them how (unless they are those lucky few that fall asleep on their own). Babies need to eat, and you need to feed them. If you’re nursing, expect to be doing this around the clock. Feedings can’t be scheduled the way that bottle-fed babies can because you can’t see how much they are getting and they control how much and how often. Babies need to be engaged – but not too much! And when they cry, all hell breaks loose if you have fed/changed/given them a good nap. Google “Why does my baby cry” and join the club of clueless moms everywhere.
The good news is that at around the 6-month mark, Penny started to smile a lot. She giggles when I pile my hair atop my head in a messy bun and it bounces around as I play with her. She gamely devours all of the foods that I have introduced to her and pounds her fist when I’m not shoveling spoonfuls of kale and sweet potato in fast enough. Her babbling has gone from Ooh/aah/OH to da-da, and yesterday, da-ddy. (She only calls for him when he’s not around. Child prodigy, right?) She squeals at little dogs that jump up on her and steal her socks. She likes cars, the remote control, and grabbing my lips as she’s dozing off.
It’s the most marvelous thing that I could have ever imagined. All of it.
But looking back on the past six months, I wish that I had somehow been better prepared for what was to come. Privy to what you learn as a new parent by trial and error, because there’s no other way to learn it. And I read, a lot. We took a prenatal class. I researched the best baby stuff and registered for and/or bought it. I was SO READY for motherhood.
Then we left the hospital.
small town Italy: even if you happen to be wandering the streets alone, it feels like everyone is watching you (because they are). this is M’s parents’ hometown, on the ionian sea: isca sull’ ionio.