It was baaaaad, y’all.
I suppose you could say that it all started Friday afternoon. I’m fortunate enough to work on a team that has something called “Summer Fridays” where we leave around noon every Friday until the end of August. It’s lovely. In my previous non-baby days, I would get an iced coffee and stroll. Maybe get home by 3:00 and take a nap.
So far this summer I have spent them manically doing whatever it is that I can’t manage to accomplish during the week. These things include cooking, cleaning, putting away Chick’s old clothes, dropping things off at Goodwill… you get the picture. By the time dinner rolls around, I’m exhausted and twitchy.
This Friday was no different. I mopped the floors, sorted through some of Chick’s baby things to donate to a local family, and made dinner. Perhaps there is some lingering resentment because I remember how carefree these afternoons used to be. But I was not a happy ostrich by the end of the evening.
We put Chick down, and I read for about 20 minutes before falling asleep. At 4:15 am, Chick woke up crying. No, make that wailing. So I went in, reacquainted him with his pacifier and lovey, and went back to bed. This kid knows how to self-soothe. I’ve seen it with my own eyes, so I had no idea what his damage was. And yet, the crying continues. On and off for TWO HOURS. Either Mr. O or I checked on him periodically to make sure nothing horrible was happening. At 6:30 am, I said “Screw it.” and took him into bed with us where he thrashed around for another hour until we admitted defeat.
I was a zombie the whole morning. I bitched out the utility worker who asked me to move my car because he needed to do construction, and proceeded to bitch out every living creature I came into contact with. In a fit of frustration, I actually punched my breakfast sandwich. That happened.
On our list of to-dos that morning were going to the farmers market and opening a checking account for Chick– we needed somewhere to officially put his birthday money, rather than just hiding it in our mattress.
The farmer’s market was hot and sticky. We got a late start, so missed the baby-friendly drumming circle at 10. Though I love our farmer’s market, I also sorta hate the process because I’m usually doing the actual shopping. Mr. O sits back with Chick in a stroller while I decide what we’re eating for the week and (wo)man-handle the produce.
After this, we go to the bank to open the account. I will spare you the gory details, only to say that this took an hour and a half to do. At first, I was pleasant with the banker since it was her first time setting up an account for a minor. Then Chick started to fuss. Then she kept trying to get me to sign up for ancillary services I didn’t need. Then Chick freaked the f*ck out. Then I became surly.
Once at home, we all ate lunch and then all took a much needed nap. (Aside: There are few things sweeter than napping with a baby.)
In the afternoon, we installed Chick’s new car seat and did a few other home-related stuff. I harrumphed a little because the day felt like such a let down. Mr. O felt it was a success because we “got shit done.”
The next day was a little better. We went to a fellow one year old’s birthday, where there was a pool. Chick was the most adorable, loved playing in the water with a bright red ball. For that fleeting 30 minutes, I was light. Watching his little face light up when we tossed the ball toward him, or when he splashed in the water… I don’t know how to explain it other than to say I was grateful to that family for inviting us to their kid’s birthday so we could have a few minutes as a family just being happy.
And then we went back to reality.
Folks, I’m just going to come out and say it. I’m not happy. I don’t get how other people do this. Why can’t I just hold on to that 30 minutes at the pool and build my life around that? Instead, I feel the collective weight of the dirty floors, the chores, the inept bank tellers, the meals that need to be made, the unending cycle of the STUFF that needs to be done or our little family can’t function.
Earlier, I picked a fight with Mr. O where I was nitpicking what he spends money on each week. It was a total dick move on my part. I don’t know where it came from, but it wasn’t a color that looked good on me. After we cooled down, I sat in the living room crying because I just don’t enjoy anything anymore.
I feel like I’m drowning. In the last few weeks, I’ve had trouble eating. I’ll be in the middle of a meal, and I’m all of a sudden just off my food. I kept thinking that this would go away once I was past Chick’s first birthday and a big project launch at work. But that was weeks ago, and I still feel like I’m on an hamster wheel.
I punched a sandwich, for Christ sake. Not everyone resorts to abusing breakfast foods because they’ve got shit to do.
With Chick’s first year down and an egg in the freezer, Mr. O and I decided to start talking about the possibility of Chick Part Deux. Of course, in order to do this, I need to talk with a medical professional. Having a baby is kinda a big deal for your body and I want to know how I’ve recovered, outstanding concerns, etc.
So I took the first step and called my OB-GYN’s office for an appointment.
The soonest available appointment at her office (with ANY available doctor) is September 22nd.
Recently, Chick has started to recognize shapes. If you point to a triangle in a book, he can pick them out on the page and point to them. His favorite shape ( if that’s possible) is the circle. Ever since this discovery, I have found myself absent-mindedly singing songs with the word ‘circle’ in them.
And the seasons, they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captured on the carousel of time
We can’t return, we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and round in the circle game
Chick is one year old. I have found myself thinking back to where I was a year ago, to where we were in the circle. I point to things and places, and say “You were here when you were just a few weeks old.” When I look down at him, completely unimpressed with his year over year progress report, I have a hard time imagining him as the 5 pounder I brought home.
I do, however, remember with vivid detail the raw madness of being a new mother. Waking up every two to three hours to pump while Chick was at the hospital. Taking the elevator up to visit him, desperate to see him again but worried about any potential setbacks that might delay his coming home. And then the day when the doctors cleared him, feeling sure that *something* would happen in the last 5 minutes and we’d be in NICU purgatory for another week. I was in shock when we walked out of the hospital with our exceptionally small baby snapped into his car seat.
As if to rub it in, Chick has been on a growth and developmental trajectory over the last few weeks that I can’t begin to recount. It’s like he was cramming for some mythical 1st year baby exam. He most certainly had a growth spurt– clothes that barely fit him one day were snug the next. (Literally, ONE DAY. Cue panicky online clothing purchase.) He is crawling like a pro, pulling himself up and getting back down with relative ease. This week, he figured out how to crawl upstairs. And for better or worse, he is getting much better at expressing his likes and dislikes. He expresses approval with a “Na, na, na.” Disapproval is a more…er… full-body experience.
While Chick is in his crib asleep, I find myself looking at photos from a year ago. They are almost all of him asleep as if the act of being outside in the real world were just too exhausting. I’m not exactly wistful… more that I am still in shock that this exceptionally small baby has turned into an exceptional little person.
The funny thing about babies is that they don’t get nostalgic. They barrel forward into the future to the next step, the next great leap while we sigh at photos of their former selves.