Wednesday, September 28, 2011

what I've learned so far...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

In the two and a half short months that have passed since I became a mom to the most beautiful boy in creation (see above, I really don't think I'm all that biased), I can't honestly say that I have become a real fountain of knowledge when it comes to babies and motherhood.  It is abundantly clear that I have loads more to learn, and that it will be months years before I feel the teeniest bit of real confidence that I might, just might, have a handle on what I'm doing.  There are, however, a few conclusions that I have managed to draw which I feel properly reflect my practical sentiments regarding my new, wonderful life as a mother.

You will never need an alarm clock again.  Every time we have an event planned for the next day, I instinctively reach for my cell phone's alarm option.  Then I stop.  Why in the world would I need to set an alarm? It's a guarantee that we'll be up with the dawn, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Or at least one of us will be bright-eyed. That one being baby A.

Clothes are no longer interesting. I wasn't the biggest fashionista before my little baby arrived, but whatever style I did manage to pull off has perilously declined. My wardrobe is now extremely minimal, confined to two or three pairs of yoga pants, my pre-pregnancy skinny jeans (I have breastfeeding, that marvelous devourer of calories, to thank for that), four or five soft tees that are easy to pull up, and four nursing tanks.  I occasionally attempt to look slightly more dressed up with a cute Gap button-down shirt, but those days are rare.  On the other hand, I have developed a serious shopping problem when it comes to my baby.  I obsessively check Zulily every morning when we get up, and can spend hours perusing the Gap and Gymboree websites.  It's probably not a good thing that it's so simple to shop online.  I may or may not have spent an outrageous amount on ensuring that little A has a different Halloween-themed outfit for every day of the week leading up to Halloween.

Your brain is smaller.  I'm not even making this up, actually.  Yes, I noticed almost immediately during my first real, non-baby oriented adult conversation that it felt like an entire layer of functioning brain cells had literally been shaved off the top of my now pea-sized brain. This is not simply a side effect of sleep deprivation, either.  Even at two months, when my darling little A sleeps enough at night that I generally get 7 hours of sleep, I can tell that there is a real struggle to get all those neurons firing when it comes to anything that doesn't have to do with caring for my baby.  As it turns out, the female brain actually DOES shrink during pregnancy, a fact I discovered in the conveniently titled book, The Female Brain.  Incidentally, it's a very good read!

Grooming hits the skids. I embraced an extremely simple beauty routine in the month before A was born. It involved a neutral shade of Clinique eyeshadow, a trusty Laura Mercier concealer, dab of Maybelline mascara, hint of black eyeliner, and my standby, Benetint cheek stain.  I figured I would be able to manage it after the baby was born, and for the most part, I have had an extra two or three minutes after showering to make myself slightly more attractive and less like I've been up all night.  However, after the passing of two months, I decided that I might want to spend a bit more time on the ol' routine, and one morning, I dug through my makeup bag a bit to look for a different eyeshadow, only a slightly deeper, but more sophisticated brown shade.  As my fingers brushed across the few other items in my bag, I realized that I had completely forgotten how I wore them before.  What shades did I combine?  Did I actually use that blue/black eyeliner?  I have literally lost my beauty know-how.

It's not just the baby that will need a spare outfit. I know that not every baby is a spitter.  In my mind, I imagine these babies as mostly girls, who after a few gentle pats on the back, release delicate, subdued burps, and have eaten so quietly and gracefully that mere drops of milk occasionally escape from their mouths.  My dear, sweet baby is the complete opposite.  He has the digestive habits of a burly, uncouth man.  I'm envisioning a logger.  Or steel worker.  Or maybe an ice road trucker.  After he eats, he lets out huge, echoing belches.  During his dinner, he likes to do what I call "making a little room"-forcefully releasing giant amounts of poop.  Let's put it this way-it hasn't been just once that I've had to change my pants because a large, colorful pile of poop has stained them with a most unbecoming curry-bright stain.  Most troublesome to the wardrobe, however, is the massive amount of spit-up that results from my overly enthusiastic eater.  It results in several changes of his clothes, to be sure, but I'm seriously considering packing along an extra top for myself every time we go out, lest the employees of Trader Joe's or proprietors of my local children's bookshop think I'm embracing a bold new fashion statement which involves rivulets of creamy white spattered in unusual patterns all over my clothing, emitting a sourish odor.  It would be a mistake to assume it's simply your top layer that is exposed-many a day I have had to rush to find a clean bra or nursing top, after I've discovered a small reservoir of spit-up in the middle of my bosom, accompanied by a few curds of milk.  I'm so happy my baby is getting enough to eat, but let's face it-I can't exactly walk around with a puddle sloshing around in my bosom.

Hopefully, the next few years will find me adding to this list.  Of course, I aspire to be a parenting pro, but I have a feeling that my new boss, baby A, will have plenty of curveballs to throw my way.  One thing I know for sure is that it will be worth. every. minute.

P.S. That oft-shared piece of advice, "sleep when the baby sleeps"? I haven't exactly clung to it.  The hour or two I have during the day when A is asleep (he sleeps very well at night, but pretty much boycotts daytime naps) allow me some real "human" time.  I'm able to clean up the house a bit, catch up on thank you notes and school work, and maybe even blog (which, as you can see, is a challenge-it's been over a month since I posted!)! Incidentally, you will find that it's often next to impossible to lay down your precious sleeping baby when he is snuggled, warm and cozy, against your chest.  There is no better feeling in the world, and since I know it won't last forever, many a nap has passed in my arms.  And really, is there anything more important I could be doing than cradling my little love?