8 Lessons in 8 Months
Eight of the longest and shortest months have come and gone since Ms. Isla has evacuated my uterus and taken up residency in our house. She has gone from being a delicious, ooey gooey blob who let me kiss her all I wanted, covering her face and belly and feet and hands and neck to a grown lady baby who knows she doesn’t approve of that anymore (she’s very busy, can you blame her?) and is able to swat me away any time I’m going overboard with the sugar.
She patty-cakes (some people refer to this as “clapping” but I don’t have time for that) constantly, even during middle of the night diaper changes when she’s half asleep/half crying.
She alternates shouting and whispering “mama” and “dada” depending on the mood of the hour.
Truly, my baby is appearing less like a baby these days, and more like a grown woman. In all of the past 8 months’ sweet (sugars, mamama’s, peek-a-boo’ing, Taylor Swift dance parties) and bitter (reflux, suddenly realizing her entire butt can’t fit into my hand, ear infections) I have learned some things, believe it or not. Here are a few.
We have not “arrived” and we never will.
This is a very tough lesson that I still am re-learning time and time again. My friend, Callie, shared with me a sentiment when Matt and I were in the throes of sleep training that stuck with me. We would have a couple of really good nights and every single time I would wake up the next morning feeling like one bad ass mother and legitimately I would say to myself, “Whew. We did it. We’re there.” I’d pat myself on the back, congratulate Matt and give Isla some celebratory boob. When, inevitably, a rough night(s) would come our way due to her being a non-robot, I would fall into defeat. “It looks like we aren’t there yet.”
Callie told me one night that we, as humans, are so great at looking back on something and recognizing all the change that took place. We so easily see in hindsight that things naturally were always changing. But we suck at looking ahead and knowing things will always be changing. Not even as parents, but also as just people on this earth, for whatever reason continue to think the grass is greener, or that if we could only just get through this thing, we will have arrived. I thought we would have arrived to more sleep forever at the end of sleep training. What does that even mean?
I’ve learned there is no grand arrival to happy/easy/done. We have to find a way to draw happiness out of whatever stage of the game we’re in. Things wax and wane with this gig. My current struggle is convincing myself that losing all my baby weight won’t actually solve every problem I’ve ever had.
Nothing is gross.
I mean, do I just want to analyze all of Isla’s poops? Actually, yeah. Yes, I very much do. If Matt is changing a poopy dipe and I’m in the house, you can bet your bottom dollar I’m running in her room saying “WAIT LET ME SEE BEFORE YOU THROW IT AWAY.” The thing is, before having this child, I had a crazy sensitive gag reflex. When I was pregnant, I never had morning sickness. Not once. I did, however, gag nonstop. There was a period in my pregnancy when Matt started smelling like corn (nobody else smelled this) and I would gag if he got too close to me. Yikes. I knew right then I wouldn’t be able to handle the dirty work without a gas mask.
Turns out, I can handle it all. When Matt gets boogers out of her nose, I get legitimately annoyed if he has disposed of it before showing me. I WANT TO CHECK THEM. For what? It doesn’t matter. Poop? Please. Toe jam/neck cheese/crusty stuff behind the ear? Those are my favorite areas to excavate. Spit up? Just do it in my hand. No need for a burp cloth. Seriously. NOTHING GROSSES ME OUT WITH HER. I never could have predicted this.
Caillou is a little bitch.
I didn’t think I could dislike anyone more on television than Trisha, but Caillou takes the cake. I guess given the mandatory choice to watch Trisha making rice krispy treats and sausage balls on her Food Network television show, or Caillou throwing tantrums because he had to share, I’d pick Trisha. That says a lot.
Did I mention Trisha *cooks* rice krispy treats on her Food Network television show?
Labor wasn’t the hardest part after all.
I am throwing this one in for anyone who may be fearing labor as intensely as I did throughout my pregnancy. I was shocked to find out the mindset I’d adopted while pregnant, which was “Just let me get through labor and everything else will be cake,” was not true. Labor was nothing like I expected, but it did not almost kill me, like I thought it would. The exhaustion of having a newborn was something I was not prepared for. That being said…
Oh my God, the love.
I can’t decide if I’d rather eat my baby, or put her back in my womb forever, given the choice.
I’ll leave it at that.
What is hot coffee?
Right before I had Isla, one of my friends with a baby a couple months old at the time posted on Facebook a request for someone to come hold her baby while she drank her coffee. At 9 months pregnant, I pfffft’d at that, thinking, “That sounds a little dramatic.” Nope. Not dramatic at all. Jennifer, my apologies.
My advice is to find a cold brew you love.
All it takes is one night.
One night of hourly wake-ups, minimal rest, and a partner who’s just as exhausted as you are, to spin out. To forget why anyone ever has more than one baby, or wonder why people at the grocery store with kids are smiling.
Also, one full night of sleep with a grandmother being on night duty, one date night away from the house and out of your pj’s to reset and bring you back from the dead.
Time is hard to stomach.
I spent A LOT of time early on with Isla just wishing away the days of no sleep. I knew I would regret doing it, but I couldn’t help it sometimes. Now, I curse time for moving too fast. It really cannot win. I don’t recall having this relationship with the passage of time before being a mother. I’ve learned after 8 months of trying to control and change time that I can only control how I cope with time. My coping skills fluctuate, but I will continue to self-monitor, reminding me to be gentle with myself. Always and forever working to be more gentle with myself.
Please share in the comments section any lessons you were surprised to learn in the early (or later) days of being a parent!