what they tell you

People have a lot of stuff to tell you about new babies.

Everyone tells you: Is the baby fed? Then that’s enough!

Perhaps this is meant as reassurance that it’s okay to merely survive. I can see that. But for me day-to-day survival on a long-term basis is not enough. Just feeding the baby is not enough. Just feeding the baby and showering is not enough. Just feeding the baby, showering, and feeding myself is not enough. Maybe I’ve set my expectations bar too high but I require more from my life to feel happy and balanced. I need… exercise and outside stimulation and some sense of linear productivity. I need to be able to find a faint outline of my old autonomous self in the shadow I cast on each day.

Now that we’re out of the early newborn trenches and my body has healed some, it’s easier to recognize myself. But honestly, there are still plenty of times where I look up and realize it’s afternoon and all I’ve done so far in the day is pump and feed the baby while scarfing down half a bag of trail mix. Telling me I’m supposed to shrug and be okay with this doesn’t make it any easier. I typically need a lot of alone time and a lot of order and structure in my life, and the loss of these things has been an acute grief. Which is why it really chaps my ass when…

Everyone tells you: Just sleep when the baby sleeps!

You don’t have a baby in a goddamn vacuum. The stupid thing about your life with a baby is that it continues more or less without you, and every day that passes means digging out from under a bigger mountain of laundry, bills, chores, packages, and thank-yous. It can drive you crazy if you let it, and I do. I let it drive me crazy every fucking day.

Spending all day every day in your pajamas in bed might seem enviably appealing right up until the moment it starts making you feel like a convalescing shut-in. For me, this occurs after ten minutes. Also, listen, a baby does not make for a great bedmate. I could make a list of 7,000 other things I’d rather lounge in bed with over my baby, including a pile of rusty switchblades and liver-lovin’ Eugene Victor Tooms.

Let’s put it another way. Taking care of a baby feels like being in jail part-time. You change the baby, feed the baby (mine typically takes over an hour! To eat! Like some kind of fussy gourmand! Who dines more than a dozen times per day!), and finally get her to go to sleep or dump her in someone else’s arms, and then the warden comes and unlocks the cell. You’re free! Sometimes it only lasts for 10 minutes, but goddamn it, you’re finally free! Do you want to spend those precious minutes lying around, or do you want to a) poop b) cram peanut butter toast down your gullet c) rinse the stench off of yourself d) pay your rent/mortgage before you accrue another late charge? I am not you, but if you were me, you’d be thinking you’d better damn well take advantage of a sleeping baby to, like, PERSON for a minute before the warden comes to lock you back up.

I don’t like that warden.

Everyone tells you: You’ll never sleep again!

You know, come to think of it, you’re right. Well do I remember waking up every morning as a child to find my parents standing over my bed anxiously watching me, hands cracked to bleeding from wringing them so hard. Even today, after being out of their house for nearly as long as I was in it, they don’t dare catch a few winks. They just spend their nights pacing and repeatedly wondering aloud whether I’m okay or not. It’s a shame but this is the way it has to be. Once you procreate there is simply no more sleep until the sweet embrace of death.

Everyone tells you: Enjoy every minute of this! Just soak it in!

Okay, so I’m supposed to find watching my baby doze with my boob in her mouth personally fulfilling! Noted.

Everyone tells you: You think this is hard, just wait ’til they’re teething/crawling/walking/driving!

FUCK YOU.

Thanks for your time.

10 Responses to “what they tell you”

  1. Stop being so selfish, Baby, and let Lyn person already! Geeze. Babies, man.

  2. I was just asking someone the other day, how do you convince yourself to enjoy something you are not? There’s just no way. If I’m not enjoying this phase I’m in, but it is potentially the only time in my life I’ll be in the phase how do I trick myself into embracing it and enjoying? No doing. Let me know if you figure it out…

  3. I’ve never understood that “just sleep when the baby sleeps!” advice. We spend our entire adult lives conditioning ourselves out of napping in order to Person during regular Person Hours. And now you’re “just” supposed to recondition yourself the moment Baby arrives? I’m no sleep scientist but I’m pretty sure sleep doesn’t work that way.

    Also, c’mon Baby. Let Lyn have like 15 minutes to Person today, mmkay?

    • RIGHT?? How am I supposed to stop Personing during Person Hours? I feel like babies need to get on our time, not the other way around. Yarghhhh.

  4. “Everyone” are assholes. (is an asshole?)
    And I’m super familiar w/ that asshat of a warden. Those minutes get longer and closer together! Here’s hoping baby is wonderfully independent for a bit today. And all the other days.

  5. I heard permutations of every single one of these, which is ridiculous. The only thing I tried to do what determine what I needed to do to feel human. For me, that was 1) daily showers, 2) daily walks/sunshine, and 3) daily interaction with adults. So I showered and went on a walk to our local coffee shop. Every day. Boring? Of course. But it made me feel way more human and less like a sad milk-producing sack.

    That said, what worked for me or for anyone else won’t work for you. (For example, I was NEVER able to nap when baby slept. Never. So I was just pretty sleep deprived until she started sleeping a bit better at night.)

  6. I think it gets easier. And they are more enjoyable the older they get. The first while is a fucking nightmare IMO plus adjusting to giving up your freedom/autonomy takes awhile, but you do get it back! In pieces anyway.

  7. I can’t find it now (of course) but a couple months back I saw perhaps an ecard that said “sleep when the baby sleeps, eat when the baby eats, vacuum when the baby vacuums.’

  8. No advice here, I promise! Only sheer admiration that you managed to write a blog post.

    I do know what it’s like to have your life suddenly not resemble a sentient, functioning human’s though, and the despair that follows. I wish there was some way we friends of the internet could be there for you in a more practical way.

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