Monday, December 31, 2007

At Year's End

Hi. Miss me? I think some random updating is in order:

On our resident cardiac patient: Considering he recently had his chest, arm and leg cracked open for bypass surgery, developed an infection in his IV site and hallucinated on Percocet, my dad is doing great. He tires easily but has not complained once in the two weeks we've been here. When he needs a nap, he just disappears into the den without a word. If it were me, I'd spend an hour complaining about how tired I was and then I'd make someone carry me to bed. The only thing that bugs him is that he can't play with the Munchkin or pick her up. He can hold her in his lap, but unfortunately that only lasts about 3.5 seconds because our child does not sit still.

On the holidays: The usual splitting-of-time between the two families went quite smoothly this year. We spent a week at my in-laws and then switched to my parents' house on Christmas afternoon. Our Christmas was amazingly stress-free, I daresay even relaxing - a far cry from last year when the Munchkin's refusal to nurse had me screaming at the B-master in the middle of the night to get me some f**king batteries for the breast pump before my f**king breasts sprout legs and leap off my chest. Or something to that effect.

On various school-related issues: By the end of the semester, I routinely awoke to find my keyboard embedded in my forehead, a direct result of having passed out face down during my frantic midnight cram sessions. Suffice to say that my time management skills have not improved. Suffice to say that I barely scraped by with my sanity intact. However, one of my professors wants to publish an article I wrote for his course. Pretty cool, although he has assured me that he cannot pay me and has encouraged me to shop it around and see if I can get some bucks for it. Semester numero 3 starts in two days. Queue the insanity.

On The Munchkin and Separation Anxiety...Mine, That Is: The Munchkin heads back to Virginia tomorrow for a week of Fun with Daddy. This means that she will probably wear a Patriot's jersey for the whole week and that she will get bathed with Pert Plus, shaving cream, or whatever shower accoutrement is handy. That's okay. I've come to terms with it.

I have not come to terms with leaving her. I hate, hate, hate doing it even though she obviously won't remember that I was ever gone. This happened to me over the summer too. All day I waited for my parents to come pick her up, fantasizing about all the things I could do with her out of my hair, getting increasingly annoyed every time she started to fuss. Then, as soon as she was strapped into the car seat, I started to cry. And as their car pulled away with my baby in the backseat, I literally wanted to run after it. Motherhood is such a mindf**k. I think I've mentioned that before.

Tonight, I went into her room after she went to bed and actually picked her up out of her Pack & Play just so I could snuggle with her. I swore I would never do that once she started sleeping through the night. I mean, wake her up?! Are you kidding?! But I couldn't resist. She nestled down into my neck, and I sat there wishing that she could stay like that forever. Then I went downstairs and stood in front of the hubby like I was lecturing the babysitter:

"Don't forget to clean the tub before you bathe her. I forgot to do it before we left."

"Okay."

"Oh, and make sure you talk to her during the day, it's important to talk to her. It doesn't matter what you say, you just have to talk."

"Yep."

That was as far as I got. I tried to remember all the other little things I'd wanted to tell him, and then I realized that it doesn't matter. He's a good daddy. Plus, let's face it, any "routine" we might have had before the holidays is shot to sh*t. So I just stood there mumbling, "Um.....uhhmmmm..."

"It'll be fine," he said. "I know how to take care of her." I know he's right. In fact, he can probably take care of her better than I can. And with fewer freakouts and neuroses.

Anyway, that's the news from the ranch. Now I'm going to toss back a few Unisom caplets and hog the bed, because I can.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Anniversary

Tonight is the first anniversay of the Munchkin's first night at home. At this time last year, I was awake in the wee hours of the morning and I was, as the ladies say in these parts, a total f**king mess.

I didn't sleep the whole time we were in the hospital. I wanted to run through the halls screaming, "HEY, EVERYONE! I JUST SHOVED A HUMAN BEING OUT OF MY HOO-HA WITH NO EPIDURAL!" I don't think I said these words out loud...but I thought them very loudly.

Not that I was counting, but four days with nary a wink of sleep messed me up. On that first night at home, I cried All. Night. Long. I couldn't have told you why back then, and I can't tell you why now. I just cried. And I felt wretched because I thought the first night at home was going to be full of "special" moments, moments of gazing at my new baby in the cradle we'd been staring at for weeks, of rocking and nursing in our new glider, of feeling so grateful that our little baby was finally here. I kept thinking, it's not supposed to be like this.

Of course, now I know that there are no "supposed to be's" in mothering. Everyone's experience is different, from pregnancy to labor & delivery to homecoming. I was such a spaz in those early days (ha, I say that like I'm oh-so-different now). I called the visiting nurse when I thought The Munchkin wasn't eating enough. The nurse came out to the house, weighed the Munchkin and informed me that she had gained a full pound in one week. "She's doing fine," she said.

I called her again when I thought the Munchkin wasn't holding her head up enough when we layed her on her stomach. The nurse came out again and assured me that she was doing just fine.
I called her again when I was sure that my kid would never eat rice cereal. "She won't open her mouth!" I wailed. "Is there something wrong with her?!"

The nurse, whose name was Pam, and she was wonderful and patient and should have hung up on me several times but she did not, came out again, piled a spoon with rice cereal, and shoved it into the Munchkin's mouth. She looked at Pam like, "What the f**k?" But she ate it.

"She's fine," Pam said. "Have a little patience, mom."

Ah, patience. I think that has been the hardest lesson learned over the past year. Mothering takes a whole new breed of patience. It's a patience of the heart that I've had to learn, the kind that I needed to reassure myself that one day, I would eventually sleep more than two hours a night. The patience I needed to force myself out of the house after spending so long gathering "baby gear" together that by the time I had everything we needed, I didn't feel like going anywhere.

But there were wonderful moments too, moments when motherhood was everything I hoped it would be. Like the first time she smiled at me, and those warm nights when I snuggled her up against my chest like a kangaroo in a pouch. We both slept soundly on those nights, both of us finding comfort in the closeness of the other.

I look at her now, and I already see my little baby disappearing. She is so tall and so (freakin') strong. She has no interest in cuddling. On the rare occassion that she sleeps with me (usually when she's sick), she tosses and turns and smacks me in the face and lordy, she's a pain in the ass. I already miss those messy, crazy, hormonal first months. I know that as rough as it sometimes was, I wouldn't trade them for anything.

It's been a great year. Happy Birthday, muffin.