3

Who needs who, here?

Happy New Year! Kenneth turned 4 months old yesterday…. I wish I could say that it’s gone by so fast, but truthfully, it feels like it’s been WAY longer than four months. I have to admit, there’s been a huge learning curve that I never anticipated when it comes to caring for an infant. Don’t get me wrong, certain things came naturally:  Showering him with affection? Done. Easy. Changing diapers? Middle-of-the-night feedings? Check, and check! He’s a baby, and he requires a lot of attention, but I love the crap out of him so it doesn’t really phase me. 

It’s the little things that no one explains to you about becoming a mother that get me.  How do you balance keeping a home with caring for such a small, defenseless being?  How do you deal with the anxiety of putting him down to walk away and do something else that just doesn’t seem nearly as important, big-picture wise? It’s been really difficult for me to let go. At first, I felt so uneasy any second that I spent not focused on him. I had to have him within arms reach every second of every day (imagine my husband’s disdain when I realized I was a co-sleeper, and he realized he wasted tons of money on nursery furniture!).

I just went out for a few hours alone for the first time this weekend. When I say “for the first time,” I mean for the first time of my own accord. My husband dragged me out on my birthday, so we left Kenneth with a sitter for a few hours, and twice we’ve had to have someone watch him for a couple of hours when we went to counseling.  But just the other day, I had this very sudden, very strong feeling that I needed to get out. I needed to take my ‘mommy’ cap off for awhile, and just be ME.  It felt so good to hang out with one of my girlfriends sans baby, and though I felt a twinge of guilt when I walked out the door, it was appeased when A) I recognized that I left him with his daddy, and I can trust him to take the best care of our precious baby and B) I felt like a new woman when I got home. 

Today, I discovered that having him next to me is part of the reason I’ve found it difficult to get anything done around the house. I left him in bed, turned on the baby monitor (which we’ve used, oh, probably less than 5 times since he was born), and kept it close by as I worked on laundry, cleaning, etc. while he slept. And oh. My. Goodness. I got so much done! It’s hard to explain, but when he’s in the same room as me, I find myself checking on him constantly. Even now as I write this, he’s sleeping in his swing, and I’m glancing over there every 30 seconds, then losing my train of thought. It’s like my “maternal instincts” have been in overdrive since he was born, and are just now starting to wind down.  (I’m glad I’m seeing improvement, otherwise I was going to ask my doctor for some tranquilizers at my next OB appointment! Holy anxiety.)

Re-reading this, I know I sound like a crazy person.  There are probably lots of mommies out there who have had all of their shit together since day one, but I must admit, I am not one of them.  I don’t know if this paranoia is related to my miscarriages, or postpartum hormones, or sleep deprivation, or what… But it could be worse, right? I’m certainly not neglecting him! On the contrary, he is so adored by myself and his daddy. And he’s such a happy baby, you can tell that he knows it! 

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4

Mombie Attack

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I apologize – I know these images may be disturbing to some viewers.  Sadly, I must take the initiative in raising awareness of a nationwide epidemic. The Mombie Virus is running rampant, infecting new mothers across the United States every day. Risk factors include (but are not limited to) mothering a child under 6 months old, being a stay-at-home mom, being a single mom, moms who have chosen to breastfeed, moms whose babies are particularly fussy/high-needs, and moms caring for a newborn as well as a toddler.  If you are a mother who has recently given birth to twins or triplets, you are at even higher risk – please skip to the end of this article and follow the treatment described there as a precautionary measure.

Husbands/new dads, the following are signs/symptoms that your counterpart may be infected with the Mombie Virus:

  • Walking more than 2 feet across your bedroom requires at least one good light source.
  • Upon asking your wife when the last time was that she left the house, she spends more than ten seconds searching for her answer.
  • She’s spent more than one week cycling through the same two pairs of pants (particularly if they are pajama pants).
  • You’ve run out of clean drinking glasses before she’s gotten around to running the dishwasher.
  • You’ve asked your cleaning service to skip a cleaning to give you more time to get your house clean enough for them to clean.
  • She spends the majority of her day topless, as her baby requires constant feeding (this is especially concerning if she has subsequently forgotten what wearing a shirt feels like, and has ventured outside half-naked).
  • She hasn’t had 4 or more consecutive hours of sleep in longer than 6 weeks.
  • She complains of ‘phantom crying,’ believing she’s heard her baby cry when she’s separated from him/her, only to discover the  baby sleeping peacefully once she’s rushed to its aide.
  • She seems consumed or obsessed with the idea of being the perfect mom, and has neglected her own needs in manic pursuit of this elusive status.

If your wife exhibits 5 or more of these symptoms, please execute the following steps immediately – Start by having her spend no less than 45 minutes in a warm bubble bath. Then, send her out the door with your credit card and a map of the closest nail salon and massage parlor.  If she exhibits all nine symptoms, add the closest DSW to the map.  If you’ve followed these directions explicitly, you should see improvement within 24 hours.

**Note: This treatment is only effective if you remove the baby from her care before sending her on her way.