Friday, September 25, 2009

Another First...

Every morning it seems like Lizzie eats and eats and eats and eventually falls asleep in my arms from sheer exhaustion of....well, eating... It's usually somewhere around 11:30-ish. One of two things can then happen:
  1. FREEZE! She is asleep. I'm tired. Is this a coincidence? I think not. Kick back the recliner and blissfully yet guiltily pass out.  Awake when she stirs. Try not to move. See if she is really "up" for the afternoon..... OR
  2. Begin a series of little white lies that begins with "I'm not trying to simultaneously bounce you while heaving my fat post postpartum body up and out of the recliner" and ends with "Even though it may feel like I have dumped you into the carrier/swing/pack n play, I in fact have not, and you are still snuggled comfortably in my arms as usual". In between are a bunch of "We're walking across the room, but not really" and "Mmmm doesn't that binky taste like boobie."
Both of these have their advantages and disadvantages but neither would get me any gold stars in any Mommy and Me classes. Both set me up by failure by resulting in either:
  1.  Waking up at 3pm and wondering how it is possible that another WHOLE DAY went by without dishes or laundry or vacuuming or anything getting done. Stephen gets home. He looks around but doesn't say anything. He takes Lizzie. I go upstairs and cry in the shower about being a bad housewife... OR
  2. My fake pass of Lizzie from my arms to the carrier/swing/pack n play ALMOST works but the second her abandoned-baby pressure switch is activated on her back, her eyes pop open like a bad horror movie ending where you think the villain is dead but alas, he is not, and there will probably be a sequel. Then she cries and I pick her up and quench my welling frustration and try again. And again. And again. Eventually I pack her in her carrier and head upstairs to cry in the shower about being a bad Mommy.
If you are sitting there thinking WTF, how on earth is a 8 week old INFANT controlling your life and breaking you down harder and faster than boot camp, or possibly being a POW!?! Show that little shit who's boss! ... then you are a man or a woman having never ejected another human being from your va-jj. 

If on the other hand, you are smiling to yourself and saying "wow, I totally forgot about that part and holy shit what did I do to get through it but I guess my highly developed Mommy brain protectively blocked that shit out and Thank God I survived" ... then you are a Mommy :)

And if you are grunting at the screen and feverishly pointing back and forth between the monitor and the carrier/swing/pack n play with a wild look in your eye... then you must be in the trenches with me. WELCOME! We serve fresh coffee and only food that you can eat with one hand, without utensils, that tastes just as good lukewarm as it does hot/cold. Things that can get you killed here are wearing make-up or washing your greasy hair (it makes the others jealous), moving any part of your body in any way that threatens to wake a precious sleeping baby (including accidental sneezes or tripping on your breast pump cord) and spinning tall tales about how your neighbor/sister/imaginary friend used a pacifier/Barney video/Long Island Iced tea to put their baby to sleep and it worked like a charm! (Disclaimer: nothing works for every baby and guess what... if we are already to this frazzled point, we have already tried everything instinctual and anecdotal or google-able and it hasn't worked so please don't waste a precious second we have when it could be put to better use like sleeping or showering or cursing our uterus for so easily allowing us to be in this situation.)

Now, I am not intending on spoiling my child. She won't be the blubbering whiny kid that gets on everyone's nerves or the screaming red-faced brat you want to punch in Wal-Mart. But studies are showing that the first 3-4 months of a baby's life are all about learning trust and they don't have the capacity to be spoiled. They have no social ability to "manipulate" you. They are barely learning the principle of cause and effect. I know this to be true because, when excited, Lizzie flails her little arms everywhere and hits herself in the face and cries. And then does it again. And again. Until I can stop laughing for a second and hold her arms down to her sides until she calms down. Clearly she is oblivious to the basic tenants of elementary physics.

So until she is older and can self soothe better, I'm not going to let her "cry it out". I don't believe in that. It feels wrong in my gut. I will just keep at it and be there for her as many times as she needs or in whatever way possible so that she can learn to trust the world. And whenever it gets to be too much, I really try to remember that I wanted to stay home and not everyone can stay home and I should appreciate this gift to our family. So far it has worked, mostly, to look at things this way.

So today I put her in the pack n play and started her music and vibration and wound up her bears mobile (she LOVES that thing, and if you excitedly say "you want your bears? there's your bears!" a few times in the most excited and astonished voice you can muster short of orgasm then she will squeal with delight and then ReadySetGooooo! You have exactly 3 minutes to wash a few dishes or take a piss or shove a sandwich down your gullet. And when personal time it so precious, three whole undivided minutes seems like a long time. But it isn't.

So today when, after the 3 minute mark, she was still sputtering whimpers yet not shaking the windows, I resisted the urge to even turn around and look at her. The bears stopped. The music winded down. The vibration timer ended. All movement and sound ceased to exist. I just sat there. Quietly.

After a few more minutes, I realized she had either FALLEN ASLEEP, by God, or she had somehow entrained herself in the blanket and suffocated to death. I guess I should get up, slowly, and check. I brought my camera because if I didn't have to do CPR then I had to record this moment for posterity.

You see that?!? You can't tell very well in the picture, but she is still breathing.
So she didn't smother herself SIDS-style. She was perfectly fine. And asleep. Asleep? Yes, asleep. A-S-L-E-E-P.

As in... I put her in awake and when I came back, she was in this position.

Put herself.
To sleep.

I was doubtful at first, I have to admit. I kept checking on her, waiting for her to wake up and yell Boo! and laugh at me for being so gullible. But she just laid there and snoozed. Chest rose and fell. Tiny little baby nose making cute snoring noises. Harmony in the universe. A few tense muscles relaxed in my body for the first time since Little Miss Milk Monster came to share this residence with us.

I tip toed to the bathroom and peed and came back to check, still asleep.
I made myself another cup of coffee and had a sip, still asleep.
I checked my email, still asleep.
I picked up all the dog toys and baby paraphernalia, still asleep.
I put the dishes in the dishwasher, and she woke up screaming at the top of her lungs.


But she had slept, unaided, for almost an HOUR! Seriously. 
This is monumental. It could usher in a whole new era. A time when Mommy can maybe tackle a whole project from beginning to completion. Clean a whole room at a time. Eat a hot meal. Shower. The possibilities are endless!

We will just have to see what happens tomorrow.


cazugie said...

Gena, you have no idea just how much I enjoy your blog. You are truly gifted with your story telling ability. I've said it more than once, you need to become an author!!! I'll buy your books even before thay make the #1 Best Seller list, which I have no doubt they would become. I get so excited when you have your weekly update and snarl at Haley dare she interrupt me while I'm reading your latest tidbits. Motherhood "ain't" easy by any means, I'm so proud that you are such a wonderful mommy. Don't you dare doubt that for a nanosecond. Sometimes I think the level we place the bar which we measure ourselves by is way too high, much more unobtainable than the highest limits someone else would put upon us. So please don't ever think that you are a bad mommy, you are a terrific and wonderful mommy!

katquilter said...

I second what my sister said. AND advise you to be on the lookout for postpartum blues.... talk to your doctor about it. You really are a great mom, so I hope you really know that and are just sometimes weepy because you are tired. Replace the voice in your head that tells you negative things with a voice that tells you positive things. I love you and am so very proud of you!