Today Hunter is six-months-old. I turned to Bill earlier this week and said, did you ever know your parents were this tired?
Neither did I.
Watching your child grow is amazing. Loving that child is amazing. Discovering the world with them is amazing. Being a parent is amazing. None of it is cliche and it’s all entirely true: Their smiles make your life worthwhile and there isn’t anything you won’t do for a giggle. It warms your heart in all those sappy ways you surely thought were owned exclusively by Hallmark. (No, you own them too.)
It’s also really, really hard though. So here’s to Six Months of Hunter: The little boy we dreamed about long before we knew he was real, the soul that our family was missing, the smile that makes my day, the cry that wakes me, and those hands. Oh my god, those hands.
Six Months of Hunter: the most difficult, most crazy challenging, most crazy rewarding, wonderful, happiest days of my life.
22 Weeks. Hunter weighs a pound (he was just under it last Tuesday and they said we’d hit it before the end of the week, so he’s weighing a few ounces more than the average at this time) and is in a constant state of movement. Until he finds a particularly comfortable spot - generally, wedged someplace in my low pelvis with his elbow and shoulder digging into soft spots I never even knew I had - and is a little over 11 inches long. Baby boy!
Edit: I bought this dress at the Pea last weekend, and it just hung on me. Hunter expanded my belly by three inches last week, even though I lost a pound. Go figure.
As of tomorrow, I will have spent six months pumping. SIX WHOLE MONTHS.* And let me tell you - pumping in real life looks nothing like this picture. First, trade the stylist-fueled locks for that three-days-dirty look only a new mom can sport (today our nanny comes AND I AM SO EXCITED I CAN WASH MY HAIR WITHOUT THE STEADY STREAM OF TEARS) and then that sweet, silk, maybe cashmere-blend cardigan for a milk and spitup stained t-shirt and a sweatshirt. And I’m wearing christmas pajama pants just to complete the “six months still means new mom” ensemble.
Pumping is hard work and there’s not a day that goes by that we don’t try to nurse. But SIX WHOLE MONTHS.
For the first few months, that meant pumping nearly 8 hours a day. Eight. Whole. Hours. Some people apparently pump much faster than this and can get five ounces in fifteen minutes. That’s awesome for you. I’m happy for you. It can take me thirty or forty to get that kind of output (despite a heavy letdown).
The whole thing really makes me lament that there is no real community for exclusive pumpers. I’ve been blessed to have a steady support of friends through this (and a phenomenal husband), but it makes me think I should put all my EP stuff online. So, as soon as I get some free time - you know, the kind where I can shower and not have it to the operatic sobs I know to be my showertime these days - I will put that here.
But halfway through - we’re going to one year so help me hannah - I have come to understand that there is one truth in all things baby: Whatever works for you is what’s right. End story.
And right now, for me, that’s a nanny and a shower and a really good pump.
* Hunter is tongue-tied and for the first two weeks, he nursed like a champ. Perfect latch, very hungry, he loved it, i loved it. My body didn’t feel the exact same way - while a tongue-tied baby can nurse, what happens to the mom isn’t pretty. So we began pumping so he could have breastmilk and have been trying to nurse ever since his tie was stretched enough it would be possible. It’s an ongoing drama. Some days nursing is easy, some days it’s a nightmare. But every day, I pump.
This is how my son sleeps every night: not in his Moses basket (he’s outgrown it), not in his crib (his nursery is on a different floor), and most assuredly not in a cosleeper.
So every night we swaddle the lambchop and give him his bottle and put him down in his snuggabunny cradle and swing, which takes the cake for the most ginormous baby product in our house in terms of actual foot print. I think the crib may be smaller.
But! This hideous monstrosity is my child’s happy place. Bored baby and you need to shower? Turn on the music and the mobile. If he isn’t looking at the birds chirping (rather non-annoyingly) past, he will be mesmerized by his own reflection in the mirrored bottom of the brain center.
If he’s fussy at night and generally unhappy, the songs and gentle swing mode are enough to calm him down immediately.
And if he’s refluxy - as our baby is - the cradle wear is enough to keep his head above his belly and his tummy that much calmer. Which means you are calmer. Which means this thing is priceless.
And today, this priceless object is being moved into the loft along with the little munchkin in it WHO SLEPT IN FOUR HOUR BLOCKS LAST NIGHT, completely making up for not sleeping at all during the day. Victory!
Parenting is hard work. I know they tell you that in advance, but that’s also like how they tell you about morning sickness, infections of the nursing breast, and labor. The words just don’t make sense until you’re living it. And there’s a reason sleep deprivation is a mechanism of torture.
At the same time as all the physically grueling stuff (your body is a hormonal meth lab ready to explode, you have stitches holding your lower region together, both you and child are potentially sick, and your breasts might actually be so incredibly tender finding a position to burp your child can make rocket science look easy), you have all this other, more emotional stuff going on, too. My child’s eyes aren’t the right color. Was that spit up or projectile vomit? Do we need to call the doctor? Is he stimulated enough by our awake interactions? Is he over stimulated? Am I going to be able to keep up with his food needs? Will I ever want to be touched again? And can someone just let me sleep today?
I try to keep in mind that every night now is one night closer to him sleeping through the night. It makes me want to pop (and slug) champagne.
But it’s also all completely wonderful. There is just nothing like the day your child reaches over to touch you on purpose. Or those non-social gas smiles that are so full of sweetness your heart breaks wide open. And all those baby noises. The noises! Your heart literally sings in response.
All of this is to say we are alive. We are kicking. And since this is Bill’s first week back to work, we are taking it easy. (Frozen meals are planned.)
We hope your week is off to a great start. Maybe with enough sleep to spare us some.
Real Accomplishments When You Work From Home With a Small Infant
Showering before noon.
Showering at all.
Having a clean towel within grabbing distance when showering.
Kissing your husband when he comes home at night without tasking him with some chore at the same time.
Having the foresight to task your husband with some chore.
Getting 1/10th of your to-do list done by Friday at 4 p.m.
Actually bothering to ask yourself, hey, what’s for dinner? … Before dinner.
Having the ability to grab your phone and text your best friends, whose phone calls you’ve missed exactly six times out of the last six times they’ve called, and texting ‘really can’t talk right now. Baby ___ing.“ If they have kids, they understand. If they don’t have kids, thank God they’re already friends.
MAKING SURE THERE IS COFFEE IN THE HOUSE. BECAUSE WITHOUT COFFEE, 1-9 ARE IMPOSSIBLE.
Nursing moms shouldn’t drink coffee, you say? Probably not that glass of wine either? I AM IMMUNE TO YOUR JUDGEMENT. I HAVE SHOWERED. Today is a rousing success.