Parenthood

Since THE DAY

March 11, 2014

One month ago today our family became far more interesting and photogenic.  We had a baby, or rather, I had a baby, but Mike was so present and supportive and wonderful it was basically a shared accomplishment.

For 48 hours we stayed at the hospital and realized with delirium how little we knew about babies.  My mom came in from Colorado and brought essential supplies like yoga pants and peanut M&Ms and Grandma wisdom. She kept saying things like, “You’re doing great! It’s always hard at first! Did that nurse forget your pain medicine? I. Will. Kill. Her.”

We had all sorts of wonderful family and friends come and love on us. They sat and admired our little beauty while we discussed her impossibly small nail beds and earlobes.  Our church brought us meals and we received several bouquets. I could make this whole blog post one long, weepy thank you note, but suffice it to say we are thankful. We are tired, but mostly we are thankful.

It’s been a month since THE DAY, and now there are three diverse sizes of clothing in the always-running washing machine, each of them marked by different forms of baby’s digestive aftermath.

We have accumulated multiple hands free baby devices: a bouncy chair, a rocker, a crib, and one of those wrap carriers that can hide a baby after you French braid it around your torso.  There are few things I enjoy more than watching my husband attempt to French braid, but it’s particularly fun watching him attempt with a baby wrap.

I don’t know if it’s due to a lack of sleep or the fact that all my energy is directed towards caring for a beautiful baby, but the one thing I’m exceptionally good at right now is leaving tasks unfinished.  I’ve walked away from this paragraph no less then three times to partially unload the dishwasher, brush my teeth, and stare at a sleeping baby long enough to wonder if she’s sleeping too long (then check to see if she’s still breathing).

What was I saying again?

I think my pregnant self expected parenthood to arrive like a neatly wrapped epiphany.  A nurse hands you a newborn baby and the great big responsibility lands in your lap and next to your bed and on your clothes all at once.   I expected the reality of it to land heavy like an anchor of self-awareness and maturity.

But it didn’t.

I didn’t notice an epiphany or a weight (if one came at all).  Maybe I was too distracted by the relentless tide of diaper changes and feedings and middle of the night rocking and humming and shushing. Maybe the anchor dropped during the  failed attempts at swaddling, at the thousand spit-ups that landed anywhere but a burp cloth, or at the moment I realized I owned several towels called “burp cloths” and desperately longed for more.

Honestly, I don’t really feel like a parent yet. but it seems that I’ve become one somewhere between my last full night of sleep and the latest batch of unfinished laundry.  I’m certain that I know almost nothing about parenthood, and yet I change one more diaper and hope that her next cry is one I can match with a remedy.

When I can do that one thing, when I can match one single need to a tangible remedy, it feels like a miracle. It feels like progress.

And in the midst of the baby tasks that grow and multiply, along the gigantic learning curve of newborn care, and at some point between feeling both completely overwhelmed and unreasonably resistant to unsolicited advice, a great sweeping romance takes place.

Somehow you fall in love in the most unromantic setting on the planet: two days removed from a shower while executing a task called “burping.”

And the sorry truth is that at this very moment, there is nothing I want more in life than to be incredibly efficient at the task of burping.  Also, I desperately would like to make the stroller transition from sidewalk to curb with a little more finesse.

I’m working on it; I’m learning.

And for all the tasks I’ve described here, all the parenting clichés I regrettably just perpetuated, I forgot to mention the most time-consuming one.

I spend a lot of time staring at this baby girl, marveling at her, taking the exact same picture 3,000 times.  Then while she naps I look through all 3,000 pictures through different Instagram filters. Mike suggests the black and white filter every time “because black and white looks more emotional.” I don’t know.

That’s the real reason the laundry isn’t done. I’m too busy falling in love with this beautiful baby, trying to wrap my head around the gigantic epiphany that she’s actually here.

She’s here.

I better take another picture.