Kitty says: Oh noes this pumpkin iz haunted!
Kitty says: Oh noes this pumpkin iz haunted!
There’s an article in the New York Times about co-sleeping, which is what they call it when your baby sleeps in your bed, next to you. This is what we are doing these days, even though we have a lovely and confusingly-named “co-sleeper” that is like a little crib attached to our bed. I posted a picture of it before:
The thing about the dedicated co-sleeper is that we started calling it the “Baby Wake-Up Box” when we noticed that, after a midnight feeding, he was vastly more likely to fall asleep when placed in his daddy’s arms than in the co-sleeper. He likes cuddling with us; who can blame him? So we pretty much gave in and brought him into bed with us. Now he sleeps between us, where with one well-aimed flailing motion he can punch us both in the nose at the same time. It’s fine actually, I like it. I like feeling his warm little body curled up against mine, and hearing the breathy little sounds he makes in sleep. I don’t feel that there’s any danger of rolling over on top of him. I’m very aware of him even when I’m asleep.
Actually Robin doesn’t like being out of physical contact with us in general, when he’s awake or when he’s asleep. I think the thought process goes like this: “No Mommy you cannot put me down, tigers might get me! Oh no my mommy has left my eyesight! Maybe I am lost! Maybe I am lost in the middle of the dark dark woods with tigers circling around me! I must cry very very loudly so that my mommy can find me again!” So I do hold him most of the day, or wear him around in a sling, which he also likes.
I’ve drifted off the topic of co-sleeping. I dunno, people have big arguments about this but I don’t see what’s to argue about. Some people do it and some people don’t. Presumably everybody just picks the sleeping arrangements that work best for their family, right? There is nothing here to argue about. It’s exactly like the so-called “mommy wars,” which are also awful, because there is not one right answer and everybody should just do what suits them best. I mean, duh.
Anyway, I liked the article, if only for the Doritos dream at the beginning. “It was such a good dream, Mom!”
One thing people say to you a lot when you’ve had a new baby is: “Enjoy your baby!” The baby books say it. The nurses say it when you’re leaving the hospital. Random people on the street say it. It’s nice, it’s fine, except: when I first brought my baby home, it seemed like the weirdest thing to say. Because the first few weeks were anything but enjoyable.
In the movies, when they put the baby in the actress’ arms, she gets a beatific look on her face and she says: “Oh. OH.” I was braced for my “Oh. OH” moment but it never came. Yes, tears sprang in my eyes when I heard my baby cry for the first time—the thought hit me that, after almost a year housing this little critter in my belly and thinking about him every day, I was finally going to get to meet him. And that was pretty overwhelming.
But I didn’t get to meet him then. Sam saw him, but I didn’t: the doctors whisked him away, for bathing and testing and medicating, and it was probably a half an hour before he was laid in my arms. And then I was worried about breastfeeding, because, you know, they say breastfeeding is more successful if it’s initiated within an hour of birth—and so our first interaction together was laden with stress and fear of failure.
I don’t know how much I loved him right away. Certainly not as much as I love him now. The thing is, I very much wanted him to thrive. I wanted to give him everything he needed, and I knew he needed love, so to a certain extent I loved him: but almost grudgingly, the same way I grudgingly got up when he cried in the middle of the night. He needed love, so I provided love, but it did not come in joyful abundance.
Now, two months later, I love him. When I see his face in the morning I feel delight. At first I felt only resignation: Oh no. Another day’s work starts now.
I might have been really at sea if I hadn’t known to expect this. It’s a very common experience for new moms, though it plunges some of them into depression, because they don’t feel the way they think they ought to feel. A new baby isn’t a bundle of joy. It’s a bundle of terror. It’s a completely helpless and vulnerable little organism that you must keep alive, you must teach and nurture and sustain, you must do everything for, and if you fail in the slightest instance it makes you a bad person even though you’ve probably never done anything like this before. My primary chemical response to my newborn was adrenalin. Those first days, I was pretty much running on fumes.
But over and under the stress, the fear, the need to succeed, other chemicals were working in my brain. Primarily oxytocin, the wonder drug. It’s really interesting to read about the chemistry of parent-child bonding. Oxytocin induces labor (pitocin, the drug they give you to induce labor, is an artificial form of oxytocin) and also causes lactation. These are broad-brush, unsubtle physical effects. But oxytocin also seems to play a key role in romantic pair bonding, and in parent-child bonding, and these alterations to brain chemistry are experienced more subtly. It’s something that builds up day to day, just a little dose every time you see your loved one’s face, until you’re addicted to the drug and can’t imagine living without the one you’re bonded to. People who lose a partner or child, in addition to the terrible emotional grief, are experiencing full-blown chemical withdrawal, comparable to what a heroin addict might go through without their fix.
I can feel it. I feel the rush when I look at my baby’s face for the first time every morning. And every day it gets a little stronger. I don’t know when it will stop. Maybe never, maybe it’ll just keep building up. I used to ask myself, looking down at the little guy as he sucked at my breast: would I die for him? And honestly, at first, the answer was probably not. Now, yeah, I’d stand between him and an onrushing bear. Definitely.
I don’t know that this story has a moral. If there are new mothers reading this, ‘what others say I say too’: it’s okay if you feel like you don’t love your newborn enough. It’s okay if enjoyment is not what you feel. You will. It might not come to you in an “Oh, OH” moment. It might come over days or weeks or even a couple of months. But the love comes, and it comes in joyful abundance.
We’ve settled into what feels like a workable routine, so I don’t really have any news. I thought instead I’d update y’all on a few of the issues I wrote about earlier:
We’re back from the doctor’s office—Baby got his shots (OH THE BETRAYAL) while we got our flu vaccines squirted up our noses. Robin’s 23 inches long now and almost 12 pounds. The doc pronounced him “perfect,” which was nice since we did have a question: he has a little bump behind his right ear. He’s had it for most of his life, we just forgot to ask about it at the last visit. Turns out it’s a harmless cyst: it may go away or it may not, but they say it’s nothing to worry about unless it gets big enough to be a cosmetic issue.
Nobody commented on my last post, so no pictures today for you.
The nip of autumn is in the air, and Babies, you know what that means: it’s time to update your wardrobe with the latest and hottest looks from the top designers. After all, you’re almost two months old now, and those newborn outfits you’ve been rocking for the past seven weeks are getting more than a little tight. You’re due for a fashion overhaul! Yes, it’s time to step out of the onesies of summer, and into the onesies of fall. We’ve put together this photo spread to help you find the ultimate fashion-forward gear.
Coordinated accessories are key this season. Here, our model sports an understated onesie with yellow trim, but the outfit is punched up by the addition of a matching skullcap for that put-together urban look.
You can also layer this outfit with footed pants—very on-trend.
Blending comfort and chic, this streamlined take on the classic baby gown evokes timeless sophistication. Coordinate with a simple cover-up when stepping out, or for an elegant evening at home.
Again, it’s the accessories that make the man. Our model demonstrates that you can wear a bib with style, even if you’re not actually eating solid food yet!
It’s the details that set these trendy footed pants apart from the herd. (See what we did there?) A giraffe appliqué is very fresh, very now.
Fashion trends cycle, and sometimes the best way to look cutting-edge is to go retro. You’ll be a man for all seasons in this vintage knitwear set—the bright colors and ducky details bring home a little bit of springtime just as the winter blahs are setting in.
(Many thanks to our “sponsors” for providing us with these dandy duds! Unfortunately Robin started to get sick of having his clothes changed so much long before we got through all the cute outfits that people have sent us!)
…and three links, the first two about the same story. Postpregnancy cosmetic surgery is on the rise, according to the New York Times, which explains:
Aimed at mothers, it usually involves a trifecta: a breast lift with or without breast implants, a tummy tuck and some liposuction. The procedures are intended to hoist slackened skin as well as reduce stretch marks and pregnancy fat.
‘The severe physical trauma of pregnancy, childbirth and breast-feeding can have profound negative effects that cause women to lose their hourglass figures,’ [one surgeon] said. His practice, Marina Plastic Surgery Associates, maintains a Web site, amommymakeover.com, which describes the surgeries required to overhaul a postpregnancy body.
Or, as Jezebel comments:
Hey, so here’s something you may be aware of: when a woman goes through the life-changing and completely natural event of giving birth, afterwards, her body doesn’t always look the same as it did before!…The problem is that these surgeons—mostly men—market their procedures by making the postpartum body seem horrifyingly disfigured and abnormal.
Third link, second story: The Shape of a Mother, a site that collects pictures of postpartum bodies.
It occurred to me that a post-pregnancy body is one of this society’s greatest secrets; all we see of the female body is that which is airbrushed and perfect, and if we look any different, we hide it from the light of day in fear of being seen. That makes me want to cry. Sure we all talk about the sagging boobs and other parts, but no one ever sees them. Or if they do, it’s in comical form, mocking the beauty that created and nourished our children.
It is my dream, then, to create this website where women of all ages, shapes, sizes and nationalities can share images of their bodies so it will no longer be secret.
I think this is very cool, but I don’t have anywhere near the stones to send in a picture of myself. Suffice it to say that while I’m only a few pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight, my body now has a very different shape. Like many of the other women, I’ve now got this weird, stretch-mark-scarred flap of extra skin and fat hanging down where I used to have only smooth tummy. In fact my waist is one of the things I always liked about my body: I put on weight on my boobs and butt and thighs, but I always had a waist. Now, not so much. I’m still gradually losing weight, but I just don’t know if that extra flap will ever go away.
It was interesting to me to encounter both of these stories within a few days. My take is that I’m glad surgery is an option for the women who want it, but I can’t ever imagine going under the knife myself. And I resent the notion that the only acceptable female body is the prepartum one, that a normal postpartum body is just gross and disgusting—even though I fight against those thoughts myself. It’s definitely going to take a while before I feel really comfortable in my postpartum skin. I will say, however, that Sam’s continued unabashed enthusiasm for my naked body is really really helpful. Thank heaven for incurable horndogs.
October is my favorite month. The kitty seems to like it too.