Wednesday, January 6, 2010

What's the Return Policy on This Thing

A mother's perspective.

"I'd really like you to do another guest appearance on the blog," Isaac mentioned one day. A simple request in the days of B.C. (Before Child), the New Parent Era means that I'm only working on this now, how many weeks after I was asked? It's been over a month, and I'm only now figuring out how to use a sling or carrier to free up both hands--before now, our teeny baby just disappeared into the depths of any carrier anyway. Before this very moment, I found myself with two free hands for precious few hours a day. Subtract from those the things I'd REALLY like to do--like shower or go to the bathroom--and there's little time left for anything else.

It's a good thing, too, because had I written this last month, it would have been a pretty dark story. Only a few weeks ago, I was feeling inadequate about my ability to feed this voracious beast, and very doubtful about my ability to weather the stress of a baby who cried whenever she was awake. I subscribe to a few email lists the likes of "your baby's development," and most of them said that by three to four weeks, she should be smiling, cooing, and spending more time in the "alert awake" mode.

Say what? Isaac and I were both petrified of her waking hours, always fearing that she'd burst into tears at any given moment. I'm sure every parent has experienced at least one moment when s/he is tiptoeing around her own home, a prisoner of the lightly napping creature in the bassinet, crib, or soundproofed dungeon... oops! Did I say that? I meant nursery. Yeah, nursery.

It was amidst those sleepless nights and anxious days that I tearfully looked at Isaac and asked "what have we done? What were we thinking???" I don't think babies come with satisfaction-guaranteed-or-your-money-back deals... unless there's a contract hiding in my uterus. Nevertheless, when we took her in for her one-month tune-up, our midwife gave us "permission" to do a little formula experiment to see if Amari was getting enough food. Long story short, no she was not! Immediately after her post-nursing formula binge, Amari was wide-eyed and smiling. "Where did this baby come from?" we wondered. I was one-third appalled that I had been starving her and two-thirds relieved that she seemed to be a "normal," happy baby, given that she wasn't famished! In the space of a single day, I went from a hesitant, ambivalent, and regretful new parent to a doting, overjoyed, elated, grateful new mom. the

What other thoughts from the female perspective? The usual experiences, I imagine. When people visit and hold Amari, I have to consciously force myself not to hover. I want to snatch her away the moment she whines. I miss her when Isaac takes her on little excursions. And this from a person who only a few weeks ago, was contemplating whether I could trade this girl in for a happier model (forgive me, future Amari). I had so much sympathy for any parent of a colicky child, and I hope "formula guilt" will never keep anyone from giving their child enough food to shut him up for a couple of hours.

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