Monday, October 31, 2011

the heartbreak… it just continues, right?

We've been the recipients of some great baby stuff from an incredible array of friends. What's been funny is that things lie fallow and irrelevant until their need becomes clear.

One of these is: the electric snot sucker. This device had been evangelized to me by baby-having friends and I made a special point to include it on our registry; as well as particular note of its receipt.

I can't say our luck with it has been good, though. It's one of a thankfully small number of occasions that I describe as Libby Lee acting as though there's an attempted murder in progress. (Bath #1 was another occasion, but let's see the happiness of #3, instead)

That's happened twice, where the "ESS" is concerned. This last time — yesterday — Lucy held her and I did the business, maybe even sucking out an actual booger or two, while she thrashed and howled in protest. Afterwards, with compunction beyond belief, I noticed one solitary tear rolling a path from each eye, across each temple, over each ear.

Baby's First Tear(s). And we caused them. Lucy and I were both practically destroyed.

Aside from that, everything is pretty great — and we're both pretty sure Libby Lee won't be able to finger us in a lineup later on. Babies are so forgetful.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

"Nights are Forever Without You…"

The sleep-deprived brain is a funny thing. At least — if you live a relatively safe modern life it is. I don't know how funny it would be if you had any particular fear of sabre-toothed tigers or huns showing up in your quarters. Fortunately, we do not. Beyond typical American wage and class fears, we're reassuringly safe. Which gives the brain free reign when it comes to sleep deprivation.

Slumber Fencing  or ATNR if you prefer.
Every night is an adventure for Team PJ (Points-Jeffries) and sleep is available but not in the chunks to which Lucy and I have been accustomed for most of our lives (dating back, one must suppose to our own infancies). Overview: Two hours is good; Four hours is grand; and 25 minutes isn't out of the question. Woe upon those 25 minute sessions, punctuated not by an explosion of crying (ok — sometimes by an explosion of crying) but rather by this volcanoesque gurgling, burbling, twitching, stretching… volcanos can take a long time to erupt and so can Miss Libby Lee. And you can know the symptoms, the portenders, but still not be able to predict what's coming.

Increasingly, that's okay with me.

I know lots of the things to do to calm the seether, to sedate the simmer. Lucy and I both have found a new love for our super-soft matching bathrobes that previously hung neglected in our respective closets. Mine is now thoughtfully tossed onto the floor beside the bed each evening as I quote-unquote retire, a concept that's taken on ridiculous dimensions. Stretching, yawning, getting "ready for bed," climbing in and knowing that the whole thing make go down in flames in — what was that? — 25 minutes? It could happen. It often does.

Libby sleeps with us. It was one of the early head-scratchers and hand-wringers. We've got no less than three amazing cradle-bed type contraptions, all of which are absolutely divine nests — a series of condos, if you will — for Mr. Mustard, who we cannot keep out of them. And why not? It's not like Libby Lee has spent a second (yet) in any of them. No, she sleeps between Lucy and I and if you disapprove, keep it to yourself. We're done debating it.

I remember probably the second night we were home and I slept on my side, my arm wrench-wrapped around my baby girl, my shoulder wrenching out of its socket, weighing the relative discomfort of my position to the wonder of my sleeping daughter — and the threat of her waking. Or: would I roll onto her and smother her? Better just to stay exactly like this and not sleep.

The next night I got my another taste of her charm. Sleeping between us now, she would squirm, while fully swaddled towards me, gazing longingly — and inaccurately — upon me as a food source. Smack smack smack… squirm squirm squirm. I'd doze off for just moments and open my eyes to her … nearer and nearer. The next time I wake up, it's to a peculiar sensation of Libby Lee latching on to my shoulder. Uh-uh, girlie! You've got the wrong one!

We'd heard the worst. You'll roll onto her. She'll smother. It's dangerous. (Not unanimous, but still…) One night, with my wife asleep and our daughter slumbering, squinched up to her side, my hand resting on the impossibly perfect curve of the Little Shoogie, I found some strange resolve and defiance inside me that said: She's fine. We're fine. We're all going to sleep together and be fine, and anybody who says otherwise can go to hell. This is great, the best. 

And it is. Sleeping with the Little Shoogie cleaved up against my collarbone, her impossibly perfect legs tucked up against her belly in a way that only Bikram can really pull off, is the best — the very best.
Considered with my daughter bouncing in the bouncing seat beside me to the strains of The Free Design Sing for Very Important People and Stewart Copeland's Rumble Fish soundtrack, which is a record I've always always wanted to play for a baby.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

One Month Old is the New Four Weeks Old

the stolen nap.
A month. It's been a month since our beautiful baby was born. Things will never be the same. I can't believe how much I love her. My heart may explode at any moment. Earlier today I felt cheated because Lucy snugged in on the couch with her curled up on her chest like a giant cuddly beetle, if such a thing even existed. I was jealous because that's my MO — an afternoon nap with my daughter on my chest, snoozing away, a sleeping face impossibly beautiful, just inches from my own. I try not to breathe on her. I think I've got bad breath and I don't want to subject her to that. I don't want to subject her to anything at all. I call her Little Shoogie way too much.

I'm the research guy. I'm Mr. Step'n'Fetch-it. I'm the backup plan. I can't feed her with my body so I try to do everything else. I don't sleep much, but I'm pretty sure I sleep more than Lucy, which makes me feel guiltier than I've ever felt in my life.

I still feel some of the initial folly of "going to bed." I remember the first night home; getting ready for bed (yawn, stretch) and thinking there is no way this is going to happen. And I was, of course, correct. And it's been that way ever since. Which is fine. It's such a great exercise in low expectations, and an even better antidote to a lifetime of perfectionism.

Because: I can't control this little creature, my Little Shoogie. I can't make her do what I want and neither can Lucy. She's pure and primal. Until very very recently, all she's wanted to do — known to do — is eat, pee, poop and sleep. And cry as necessary in the process of executing any of the former. It's important not to take that personally and at 4:19 am it can be especially hard. But I'm in awe of this creature who has no hidden agenda, no grudges, and is operating on all new equipment.

Ironically, she's just the same as anybody else: she's just trying to be happy with the tools that she's got. Mostly this is about hunger and its slaking and sometimes its consequences. Coming off of the boob, Lucy often proclaims her drunk, as we both shake our heads with impossible joy over those eyes lolling around in their sockets, lips smacking when she really doesn't even know she has "lips." It's fucking crazy. Lately, she's come off the boob and launched immediately into crying which we don't fully understand but think it's probably one thing: she hurts for some reason. Her tummy hurts, for some reason that we hope will pass. Quickly.

I hold my girl — my Little Shoogie — in my arms often, so much, every day. Between Lucy and I she's really and truly almost never touched the ground so far. I look at her and I set a foot one more step down that parenting road, maybe slipping in ways that I've criticized others for in the past. I look in her insanely perfect little face and think and sometimes say: I'm your daddy and I love you and I won't ever let anything bad happen to you if I can help it. For as long as I live, I'll take care of you. I'll do everything I can to help you have everything you want. It's a slippery slope, I know. And I don't mean material things, I don't mean that One Impossibly Valuable Malibu Barbie or — you know — stuff.

I mean love.

Let's Get This Straight…

Lucy and I had a baby on September 17. Her name is Elizabeth Lee but we call her Libby Lee.

Beyond that — I hardly know where to start.

Lucy is the principal food source. This has been hard, but she's a champion.

Breastfeeding: I keep thinking who would have ever thought that something so natural (let's remember, we 'mammals' are named for the practice) could be so … unlearned. And that's true for baby and Mom. Fortunately, we're (I'll be using the term "we" loosely here) getting the hang of it, after a month. It was wildly alarming the first couple of weeks watching Libby Lee "not get it" and become insanely frustrated over not getting it. And also — quite normal, it seems.

In fact, the one thing we've heard over and over since entering parentland that is simultaneously comforting and maddening: That's normal. That sounds 'about right.'

Every time we've thought we had a scary, unusual situation on our hands, after losing even more sleep than usual, we consult the authorities (thank you, doctors! nurses! lactation specialists! youtube! books! friends!) and the response is: That's normal. How old is she? Yeah, that sounds about right.

Give us time, Libby Lee. It's only been a month, but we sincerely believe that we'll not be too incompetent at taking care of you. And that's a promise.