Isn’t most communication non-verbal, anyway?
I remember when my mother and I took a walk (for homeschool P.E. credit) around the block in -20 weather. It was windy too!
A little cat was outside. This cat wanted to be inside with us. She followed us for a mile. She found our sliding door and shivered dramatically outside until we finally let her in.
Mom was resolute. It took her more than a day. But she lived with us for years. She looked vaguely Asian, so we called her Chang.
Stray cats can be very pursuasive:
Well, the cat has been with me a long time and he is old and fat. But he is a happy cat, and does enjoy a good brushing:
Today is Veronica’s 3 month birthday. ‘They’ say that after three months, she is no longer a newborn and graduates to being an infant.
She is so much more capable now, that seems right. She started out barely able to do anything, but now she can can barely do a lot of things. She very adept at crying, and also very good at smiling. For both, she’ll put her whole body into it.
When she is delighted, she’ll open her mouth into a big happy “o” and shake her head from side to side. Even her hands and feet get into the act, with her fists scrunching up and her feet kicking like crazy. All this because I tell her she’s a good girl!
She is a good girl.
So Chris is bottle-feeding little V for her one o’clock feeding. We are preparing for the hand-off. Bottle feeding gives him bonding time and begins to allieve my fears that my mammaries are starving the child. She’s so little and stringy, and bottles are so conveniently marked with quantities. He feeds her a huge bottle of milk from the frozen stash I’ve been collecting for the purpose.
When he was done he asked “Where should I put her?”
I usually want to start yelling at him when he asks me things like that because, after all, he is going to be taking care of her all by himself in very very few days and why can’t he figure it out on his own?
But then again, probably the reason he feels the need to ask is because I would tell him “She likes being over HERE, not THERE where you in your ignorance put her.” And who likes to hear that? so he asks. And I bite my tongue and say “Maybe she would like to sit in her chair.”
She often likes to sit in her chair.
I was finishing reading a webpage when Chris said with alarm “Baby! Come here! She just spit up a bunch.”
Of course my first thought was “Babies Do that and why can’t you handle something so ordinary?” He is after all going to be taking care of her ALONE without me to yell for in a very short time.
He kept calling, “It’s really a lot. I think she threw up the whole bottle.”
So I got up and went to see. She seemed happy, biting her bottom look and staring at Daddy with a wrinkled forehead.
“You didn’t see it!”
Then I saw her clothes were all wet, so I picked her up to go change her, still thinking ‘you’re going to have to do this all by yourself soon!’ and then I realized her chair had a puddle underneath her. And dining table chair beneath her chair had a puddle. And so did the floor.
So I guess changing the baby was the easy part. Chris had to clean up all the milky spit up, making sure the dog (dogs can be disgusting) didn’t get there first. He also dismantled Veronica’s chair and ran it through the laundry.
Because it really WAS that much, and because I am still worried that I am starving my child with the primitive non-measurable mammary method, I thawed some more milk and fed her again. Now she’s stuffed and sleeping to her goodnight CD–Harry Belafonte singing “Jamaican Farewell”
I talked before about how my days while home with Newborn Veronica were not 24 hours long, but actually only as long as the time between feedings. Today, 12 weeks after she arrived, that feels like a long time ago.
I’m so glad that it feels like a long time ago. I feel so kneeling-at-their-feet grateful to the many people who have been encouraging and helped me through this incredibly unexpectedly difficult time. What with bringing this new person into the world, and being so embraced and upheld by so many people already here, I feel a respect and kinship with the human race I’ve never felt before.
And, amazingly, the clock has started ticking again. Days begin and progress and end now. And then a new day starts with reassuring regularity. Before, I could not really believe that next week would arrive, and I had to use all the faith I had learned to practice to get from the present into the future. The future didn’t seem to be part of my existence. The present which was fill with achey muscles and a demanding little body that was not part of my body anymore.\
But the future merged onto the edge of the present again and my life is ordered the way I’m used to. Sort of.
I have a strong feeling that nothing will ever be the same again. But before that scary thought steals all my oxygen (again), I realize that I’ll find a way to fit in the important pieces. Just like I learned to eat and unload the dishwasher with one hand because the other arm was holding a sleepy baby, I’ll learn to fit in what I need to.
Meanwhile, I’m still waiting to get back to my “real” life, aka my JOB. That’s 18 days away. I look forward to putting on headphones and wading through piles of email for a WHOLE hour uninterrupted. Of course, I’ll have to do that for a whole 8 hours…and those 8 hours will be a long time to be away from my little one. I know my arms will ache in a different way, from not carrying.
But I know I’ll be leaving her in good hands.
Twelve weeks ago today, I was in a hospital counting. I counted from when the start of the contraction hurt to the end, just to have something to focus on. In between, and there was less and less in between as time went on, I counted how many hours this could possibly go on.
Chris was reading to me from the newspaper, also to have something to focus on. I told him that he could ask things, but that i was not going to answer because I was focussing on getting through the contractions. He remained calm and did a good job of helping me through.
Now, I am counting the days until I return to work. And I am counting the ounces I feed her, and how long between her naps.
She will not be 3 months old for a few more days so I am counting those.
It’s barely three weeks before I go back to work. People tell me I’m soooo lucky to have my husband handle the child while I go away. But it is hard to hand off.
Thing is, I love my baby, but I love my husband too. And my baby requires all kinds of specificity. She needs things exactly so and exactly this way and exactly this time. My husband needs the opposite. I mean, I can’t be leaning over him and telling him to do things exactly exactly.
But Veronica needs it that way. At least I think she does. But maybe my way is not the only way that works.
So I have to let go and let Daddy figure it out. He has to “find his own path”.
Yesterday, the child didn’t go to sleep right away in her crib like she has the past several nights. I put her in her crib and went racing around to do all the night things I had to do so i could slam my head on my pillow and SLEEP. But the child wouldn’t sleep.
So I picked her up out of her crib and was wrestling her squirmy little body out of the contortions she gets into to try to calm her to sleep. I’ve done this before many many times but I was impatient and wanted to be asleep.
Chris offered to put her to sleep. So I handed her over.
I had put her in the crib at 9:30. Chris finally got her to be ASLEEP in her crib at 11. At first he sat with her, but when the game was finished he got up and walked with her and sang to her. And he came in to the bedroom to give me updates.
I was thinking, Aren’t you glad I did not give you updates this morning when she wouldn’t go back to sleep? But I didn’t say it. I stayed in my warm bed without sleeping while the child was calmed and finally put to bed.
I would like to say “Don’t look at her and sing to her when you are trying to get her to sleep. She thinks that is the most interesting thing ever and will stay awake for it. Just hold her and ignore her and she will drift off to sleep.”
But…maybe I wouldn’t have had any better luck getting her to sleep last night. Maybe it would have taken an hour and a half either way. I’ll keep my mouth shut and just be glad that Chris is going to keep on taking good care of her the best way he knows.