Is it a shock to anybody that I’ve started planning Collin’s first birthday a month ago? (He’s currently ten months old. Just for the record). It’s going to be Elmo themed, because Elmo has always been Collin’s BFF (After MooMoo, of course). Collin’s first birthday has been pretty much the focus of my life lately, always hovering around in the back of my head, much like his baby shower did. I have fantasized about it since I was pregnant, possibly even before that. His first birthday seems to be where all my motherhood fantasies convene, and I picture Collin giddy, surrounded by friends, enjoying his little one-year-old life. I also picture perfect weather, perfect homemade decorations, and perfect homemade food.
Hmm…could it be that I am setting myself up for disappointment? No, not really. I pictured the same thing for his Welcome-To-Earth party at the beach, in which I was having a near panic attack because we were late (as usual) but no one even came for the first thirty minutes, then it was so packed at the beach that I couldn’t find a picnic table (some nice people let me use one of theirs). I spent the first half of the party snapping postpardomly at poor Husband, and then I accidentally tugged Collin’s newborn ear while putting his hat on and made him SCREAM inconsolably just as guests started to arrive. On top of all that, the sunny day at the beach I imagined was freezing cold until the party was over and we were walking back to our car, when the clouds parted, the sun suddenly shined merrily, and (I kid you not) dolphins began leaping happily along the shore. I don’t remember anything else about that day. I probably went home and ate a pound of chocolate while I pumped in front of Netflix. But, I digress; my point was that when I look at pictures of that party, the one I had such high hopes for and went nothing like I had planned, I am filled with nostalgia and love for that tiny baby in his nerd sweater sniffling in my arms. The party was to celebrate the fact that he was born, and that in itself made it a great party. And hey, we even saw some dolphins.
My Collin is six weeks old. It’s hard to imagine he won’t always be this small and babylike. I won’t always be changing his diapers, getting up to nurse him five times every night, and Husband and I won’t always be passing him back and forth like a hot potato every time we sit down to eat dinner. But, alas, he is indeed growing at some kind of crazy warp speed that makes me both excited for the future, and terrified of losing his delicious babyhood. Sometimes, I just want to cling to it, grab at every moment and memory and stuff them all in my pockets so I can pull them out and re-live them over and over again. The way he smiles at me when we wake up in the morning. The way he falls asleep on my shoulder after a long nurse. The way his little baby hiccups make me want to call everyone I know to share them, because surely they must make everyone want to melt as much as they do me.
However, in the same breath, I am also the woman who practically throws the baby at her husband when he walks in the door after work, and Collin will spend so much time swinging in his swing some days, I’m afraid he’ll start calling it mama and trying to nurse off it.
Today was the most productive post-pardom day I’ve had yet. I bathed the baby, cleaned the kitchen, cleaned the living room, folded and put away a load of laundry, took the baby for a walk and helped him get some tummy time, and made a healthy dinner. All of this being done intermittently through feeding, burping, changing, and rocking, or by having the baby strapped to me with the Moby wrap. They say mothers are good multi-taskers… now I know why. It’s funny, the things they do and do not warn you about post-pardom. They do warn you about the sleep deprivation and after-delivery soreness. They don’t warn you about how the foot swelling and the hemorrhoids get ten times WORSE after the baby before slowly deciding to get better. They also forget to mention how your mind can sort of liquefy after a whole day of baby talk and how your wedding ring may never fit you again. Or how there are a ton of support groups in Santa Cruz for new mothers, but in order to get to any of them, you need to be a functional person before ten in the morning; so basically by the time you’re sleeping enough through the night to enjoy them, your baby will be off to college.
Even if they had warned me, I wouldn’t have listened, or cared. Even as I live all the things I was never warned about, it’s hard to care when all I want to do is gaze at this little creature that is my baby.
When I finally crawl into bed at night, I hear the “Ding ding!” of bells at a boxing ring. The fight is on. My darling son and I will battle for sleep all night long. Collin is insistent on being attached to my chest, whether to nurse (in his sleep, mind you) or to use it as a pillow. He puts the phrase “sleep like a baby” to the test, and will systematically wake me every couple of hours to nurse without opening an eye, himself. We received a beautiful co-sleeper from my parents as a gift, a little baby bed that attaches to our bed, but found that everybody slept better if the baby was in bed with us. The only problem is, our little angel turns into a farting, snoring, pee-soaked bed hog who somehow becomes as hot as molten lava and kicks me to death every time I get comfortable.
I knew something had to give. I longed for him to sleep in his co-sleeper, but to my amazement, every time I tried to put him in it, it was me who had a problem with it. Suddenly, the bed became a vast, lonely, babyless oasis, and I nearly jumped out of my skin every time Collin so much as peeped. The subject of bed-sharing came up in my new parents’ group, and another mother shared a story identical to mine. I told her what happened to me every time I attempted the co-sleeper.
“Sounds like you’re not ready,” she said.
So, I put some thought into that. She was right, Collin wasn’t the only one who needed to be “ready” for the co-sleeper. I never thought that becoming a mother would overwhelm me so completely, taking hostage everything that used to be normal and comfortable. We’re still working on the co-sleeper. Now, the baby will start the night asleep by himself, but always end it right back in our bed, attached to me. I guess I’ll take that, for now.