Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Holiday Newsletter I Never Sent Because My Brain Melted

This post inspired by my dear friend Susan in NJ, who resolved to write one blog post per year. In my previous life, I manged to send out an annual newsletter. This will have to do for this year (and yes, I know I'm a little late for the holiday).

Dear friends and family,

Here is where I attempt to summarize an entire year in the life … and this was one was a doozey. But let’s start back in January.

We were settling into our new home in Melrose. This was the first time we’d set up a home together so it was a lot of work! We started sharing the news about my pregnancy right after the holidays. I was almost four months at that time, so I couldn’t hide it much longer anyhow. The first question most people ask is if that baby is a boy or a girl. I would have loved to have known but Baby wasn’t cooperating and kept its legs crossed, so my doctor told me we’d just find out in June. I had no idea that one possible answer was: “we wanted to know but couldn’t figure it out.” I was completely flummoxed by this. Let's just say that was the first of many flummoxes this year.

The estimated date of arrival of the Peanut was June 29. We planned a few small trips in the meantime knowing we wouldn’t get around much after that date. In February, Mr. Right and I did a house swap with a family in Montpelier, Vermont. Rob went to school in Castleton VT, so about once a year, he starts yearning for the green mountains. We had a great weekend exploring the town and cross country skiing on a maple sugaring farm.

Mr. Right travels a lot for work and this is cause for both pity and envy, depending on the trip and how hellacious his travel schedule is. When he said he had to go meet people in Santa Barbara, I said there was no way he was going without me. I cashed in some miles and joined him out to the West Coast and hit all my favorite haunts on the weekend before he actually had to do work. Our favorite part of the trip was taking him to Cold Spring Tavern, an old stagecoach stop in the Santa Barbara foothills, reached after a windy drive through the mountains with amazing ocean views. We also made it down to LA to see my dear friends Lia and Angela for a quick dinner before I flew back east.

After that trip, I was better able to settle in for the remainder of my pregnancy. I worked up until the end. On Thursday, June 10 I led an offsite event for work and went home feeling tired but otherwise normal. I went to bed and woke up with a shock at 1:00 am. My water had broken! 2.5 weeks early! The conversation that evening continued in this vein for a while longer. What! But! Ok! We can do this! But we have no diapers! Or car seat installed! It's Ok! Call the hospital! No, call the midwife! Ack! Finally we managed to pull our gear together and get into the car.

At 5 am on June 11, The Peanut was born. It took me a week or two just to believe she had really arrived. She was so little at 6 lbs and 11 oz and 19 inches. We both were expecting a large baby since we both are relatively tall people, but nope, she remains a petite little girl. I never knew having a baby could generate the mountains of pink clothing that have descended upon us.

As advertised, our life will never be the same again. All of the clichés, both positive and negative, are all true. You just can’t prepare yourself for it – you just have to live through it. The peanut is a happy baby and for the most part, a pretty easy one. She still isn’t really big on sleeping for long stretches, but everything else about her is pretty much perfect. Adjusting to new mom-hood has also been a stretch for me; let’s just say it feels like your entire brain gets rewired. Maternity leave was less fun than I expected: I had visions of a lovely summer off, spent going to the beach or other outdoor adventures with my sweet baby. Instead, it was HOT and this baby did NOT like her car seat. We spent a fair amount of time on the couch at home, huddling in the air-conditioned rooms. But that was easy peasy compared to returning to work.

There are just not enough hours in the day or enough sleep to go around. The life of after work activities and projects no longer exists. Now I scramble to get ready while holding her as much as I can in the morning, rush off to work, rush home from work to connect with Mr. Right and the Peanut until bedtime while simultaneously trying to prepare, eat and clean up from dinner and get ready for the next day. Then I try and get as much sleep as I can between feedings. Talking on the phone? Reading a book? Watching a tv show? Visiting with friends? Cooking/cleaning/other projects? No longer on the schedule. I now understand and sympathize so much more with any new mom who has ever existed and said they were tired and unable to go anywhere/do anything/drink a full glass of water. Yup.

My three saving graces in all of this chaos: 1. loving friends and family 2. The Baby Café, a nursing moms group that meets just down the street and 3. the internet, where I can google anything and read way more advice about anything I could possibly want to know. What amazes me is how every single dimension of babyhood requires dissertations worth of research and preparation. Like, feeding Grace baby food. Who could ever master the ginormous array of options and opinions? The most valuable to me of all the advice I've been given so far was from a very elderly woman at the drug store who stopped to admire the Peanut. "Just enjoy every moment. It goes so fast." Her wistful smile still catches at my heart; that will be me if I'm lucky in 40 years when the Peanut is grown and has her own peanuts to raise.

Ultimately, I’ve learned that most important lesson: just give up trying to master it and blunder through. Oh and, “Let it go. This too shall pass.” Grateful, amazed, and freaked out pretty much is my continual state. So, happy new year indeed. If I don't return your phone call, hang in there. I'll call you back in 2012.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Yes, we had a lovely holiday, thanks.

We had our first Christmas with the munchkin. She even had her first plane ride to Pittsburgh and did very nicely, conking out on my lap almost immediately both coming and going. She received lots of great presents and really was only interested in eating wrapping paper.
Now the holiday is over and we're home together on a work day because she's got a little fever and cough. We're listening to silly kid songs and trying not to get cabin fever and eat all the leftover holiday cookies in one day.
Happy new year everyone! Can't believe she's seven months old tomorrow.