Saturday, December 03, 2011

The Newborn Report

Friday morning, I woke up in a pool of milk. The front of my shirt was as soaked as it would have been had I dunked it in the bathtub. My sleeve was wet. The sheets, top and bottom, were wet. Then I sat up to nurse Greta and sat in the milk so my pajama bottoms were wet. It was not the best way to start the day.

I recount this as an illustration of why it isn’t easy returning to Infantland. I thought this time around would be easier, since we’d done it all before and knew what to expect. And in some ways it is easier: I’m worried less about details, mostly because I don’t have time to worry about them, and I don’t have any time at all to read baby books and wonder if I’m doing things “right.” What’s harder is the return itself. With baby #1, I expected things to change, even welcomed those changes as we entered A New Phase of Our Lives. I expected and looked forward to milk-soaked sheets and all the rest of it because it was all part of Having a Baby. With baby #2, it’s harder to welcome those changes with such Zen-like calm because, well, haven’t we been through this already? The sleepless nights, the endless laundry, the spitting up, the red-eyed infant who will not, despite all manner of soothing, give in to a nap? I thought I’d crossed those off my list. Yet here we are again.

And there are new challenges too—like figuring out nap and sleep schedules, which will be difficult with a toddler around. I hear first-time moms discussing how they have a forty-five-minute routine to get their infant to take an afternoon nap—ha, ha. I remember long stretches of rocking Lucia to sleep and religiously implementing a two-nap routine at around three months, and I know this time will be different. Greta’s “routine” is going to have to involve being nursed and then put down in her bouncy chair. Or napping on the go. Such is life for the second-born.

Last week, Greta looked calmly into my face with just the hint of a smile, then spit up down my shirt. The day before that, she seemed unaware that I was wearing real pants for the first time—not yoga pants, not leggings—and spit up all over those. She continues to be a sound, silent sleeper until the exact second we try to remove her from our laps/shoulders/arms. Then she either wakes up screaming or launches her award-winning barnyard imitation. (Is it a sty full of angry, ill-humored pigs, or is it Greta? I challenge you to decide.) (Also, I joke about this, but we’ll check with our doctor next week to make sure those noises aren’t a sign of a problem.)

Of course, Greta is adorable and we love love love her. She’s started giving tiny smiles, and her gaze is lengthening enough so that she gives us long, studious looks. She makes cute faces in her sleep. And she is getting cute little fat rolls at her wrists and knuckles (the benefit of the endless, endless nursing). She is great in the Bjorn, falling asleep and staying asleep long enough for a walk to the farmer’s market and some good playing in the park with Lucia.

So these are not meant to be complaints, just observations on our return to this well-trodden territory.

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