Monday, March 24, 2014

Sixteen Things I've Learned in Sixteen Weeks of Parenthood

I said weeks ago I was going to write a post about ten things I have learned in the ten weeks of motherhood. Well, lesson number 873: Finding time to write a blog post is hard. Really hard. And if I have the time, I may not have the energy or brain power to put thoughts to screen.

It truly is crazy how fast time flies. Today R is sixteen weeks. So without further ado . . .

Sixteen Things I’ve Learned in Sixteen Weeks of Parenthood (in no specific order)
Note: If you’re a dad, feel free to insert “dad” where I say “mom” when appropriate. I’m an equal-loving blogger.

  1. I like pink. A lot. Who knew? I was never a pink person (though, ironically, of the five bedrooms I lived in—houses only, so not including my New York City apartments—two of them were painted a shade of pink). Having a daughter? Well, that has made me a pink person. Especially after spending nine months of not knowing the gender. I’m super glad we did it that way, and I was perfectly fine with all the gender-neutral items, but once I started getting the girly stuff, I realized how much I loved it—especially the pink!
  2. Never say never. I used to say I’d never put a headband on my daughter if I had one. I don’t know why I was so vehemently against headbands, but I definitely had strong opinions on them. Cue daughter. Turns out headbands are pretty dang cute. I prefer the smaller headbands; I’m (personally) not into the big flowers and bows, but I guess I can’t say I’ll never put one on her.
  3. No amount of sleep deprivation pre-baby will prepare you for sleep deprivation post-baby. I don’t mind the 3:00 a.m. feeding, for some reason I find that one really enjoyable, even if I am exhausted. But there was a week or two where R was waking up every two hours, which meant I was waking up every ninety minutes. And even though she seems to have hit a pattern now that is manageable (goes to bed at seven and wakes up at eleven thirty, three thirty, and seven thirty), I know there will be regressions and teething and colds that will mess routines up and cause some exhausted days. Mike and I used to joke that my all-nighters for freelancing acted as a good form of “spring training” for mommyhood. Wrong. I will admit I am a high-functioning human being on very little sleep after years of practice, but I don’t bounce back from sleepless nights as easily as I did when I was pulling all-nighters and going to the office.
  4. Speaking of the office . . . for those who do not know, my office is now my apartment. I am an official stay-at-home mom and freelancer. Finding time to do my work, which is now my sole source of income, on top of my work of being a mommy, is really, really hard. I always knew this would be the case, but actually living it has brought this knowledge to a whole new level. There have already been a few nights of working until R’s three-thirty feeding and then going to bed after that. Thankfully, Mike takes over on the weekends, so I get to sleep in and catch up on all the work I didn’t get done during the week. Hopefully R will start to take better naps in her crib during the day so I can get more work done then.
  5. Sometimes I miss my nine-to-five. Yes, I have a job that I love and I can do it from home, but there are days when I miss going to the office, talking with my coworkers, knowing pretty much exactly what my day is going to be like. When I was growing up, I knew I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom at some point (my theory: I’m the daughter of a stay-at-home mom and I loved how active she was in my childhood), but then I found a job I loved. And there was a lot of internal back-and-forth on what I wanted to do and what was feasible in this day and age. Thankfully, my nine-to-five job opened up a world of opportunities to become a freelancer so I can continue doing what I love—and what I’ve worked hard to achieve—and be a stay-at-home mom, which is perfect timing for our family right now. But sometimes my little assistant just doesn’t provide the same kind of break as walking into a coworker’s office and chitchatting for fifteen minutes. Sure, she and I talk a lot . . . but she doesn’t have much to contribute to the conversation just yet.
  6. I’m not getting nearly as much unwanted advice as I thought I would. I was warned a lot that this would happen, but so far it’s been manageable. Most of the advice I’ve gotten has been helpful. (By the way, speaking of advice, I don’t think I will ever tell someone “to sleep when the baby sleeps.” It’s just not feasible past the first couple of weeks. I sleep when the baby sleeps if the baby is sleeping on me and I can’t do anything else. If I can get her to sleep elsewhere for any time longer than twenty minutes, I take that time to get everything done that’s been building up . . . you know, like a shower, eat, the essentials.)
  7. Moms aren’t as catty and judgmental as some people (read: the media) will lead you to believe. There’s a lot out there about how moms like to judge other moms. I’m not saying this doesn’t happen, but I’ve been pretty fortunate to have mom friends who aren’t like that. And these aren’t mom friends I knew pre-baby—these are ladies who I met randomly through and now see once a week: stay-at-home moms, work-from-home moms, nine-to-five moms; breast-feeding moms, formula-feeding moms; married moms, engaged moms. We support one another, because, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what kind of mom you are. You’re a mom. Period. I also love that in the rare case I post something frustrating on Facebook, friends, both old and new, chime in to offer support, which has been really nice.
  8. Babies come with so much stuff. It’s ridiculous. (Yes, I realize this is a first-world convenience; babies can actually make it by with very little.) There was a brief moment when Mike and I considered staying in our one-bedroom apartment until we figured out where we wanted to settle. Thank goodness we didn’t do that! As much of a pain moving is, it’s nice that R has her own room; it’s nice to have space for the Pack ’N Play, the bouncy seat, the Jumperoo, the play mat, the swing, etc. Because one day R will like one of those things a lot . . . and another day she’ll hate it and like something else. Not to mention that our new place has space for an amazing couch that has been our lifesaver.
  9. I love my body. Flab and stretch marks and all. I have to say that I have never felt more confident than I did during the last year. I loved my pregnant body, and I’m not hating my body now. I have been noticing a bit more flabbiness around my midsection lately (because breast-feeding burns so many calories, it gives you a false sense of security: you think you can eat a lot more than normal . . . which you can, but you know, not, like, an entire six-pack of Reese’s eggs . . . oops), but still, my body made a baby. And that’s pretty freaking awesome. It had to stretch and accommodate a near-nine-pound baby; I can’t be mad at it for that.
  10. Getting myself dressed each day is a struggle. I like to tell myself that by staying in my pajamas, I’m really just saving on laundry, which then in turn saves me from going to the Laundromat more often (because it’s an eight-minute walk and a couple of hours of my day; it’s not like I can just do a load here or there). As comfortable as pajamas are, I do feel pretty sloppy most days. Especially since I’m constantly interacting with messengers and mailmen, so it’s not like I’m holed up and people don’t see me. This will most likely change when this terrible winter is over and we go out of the house more often.
  11. Some days I feel like I’m just barely treading water. Others I feel like I’m—to borrow from Cards Against Humanity—being a motherf------ sorcerer. I feel like the latter when I get tons done. For instance, about once a month I’m able to sit down and go through cookbooks and websites looking for Crock-Pot recipes. I then create a very large FreshDirect order, have the groceries delivered, and spend a day or night getting a whole bunch of meals together to put in the freezer. That feels like a major success. And recently the recipes I’ve made have been really good, which makes it all the better (because there’s nothing worse than putting a new recipe in the freezer, putting it in the Crock-Pot when you’re ready, and then hating it when you eat it and having nothing else in the house).
  12. I spend most of my days looking and acting like a complete idiot. Anything to keep R happy and smiling (and trying to get her to giggle, since she’s just starting to figure that out—greatest sound ever). I hate singing and dancing in public. HATE it. I have to have quite a bit of liquid courage to go on a dance floor, and it better be packed so I can melt into the crowd. And I freak out about even being near a karaoke bar for fear that people will force a microphone in my face, even if it’s a group song. My most embarrassing moment was trying out for The Sound of Music in high school. I was the type of person who wanted to be a part of everything, and I love musical theater, so this seemed like a logical thing to try out for. It should be noted that I can’t sing. At all. It was terrifying and embarrassing and I didn’t even have to check the cast listing to see if I got a role in the background (because that’s all I wanted, I mean, I wasn’t completely fooling myself). Now I dance and sing all day, stupid songs, made up songs, nursery rhymes, you name it. Whether R is smiling at me because she likes it or she’s laughing at me is yet to be determined.
  13. When you find something that works, it’s the most amazing feeling. In an effort to get R sleeping better at night, our doctor told us to put her to bed earlier. We had been starting her routine at eight o’clock because that allowed Mike some time with her when he got home from work. Well, now we start getting her ready at six thirty, and she’s in bed by seven. She still wakes up at the same times to feed that she did when she was going to bed at nine, but she’s not waking up an extra time or two in the middle of the night just because (or to fart, because there was a week where she was waking up consistently at two in the morning to toot). And with her earlier bedtime, I have an extra two hours now. Not to mention, trying to eat dinner with her before was hard; Mike and I can eat leisurely these days.
  14. When something that works stops working, it’s the worst feeling ever. R used to sleep six hour straight. I knew it wouldn’t last, because 1) it was too good to be true (parenting isn’t that easy), and 2) other moms had told me those sleeping patterns are pretty normal around weeks five through seven, and then babies go back to every couple of hours after that. Despite knowing this, the first day after that six-hour night, you think, OK, so tonight was a bad night, we’ll go back to normal tomorrow. And then the next night, you think, Well, crap. Parenthood really is a whole bunch of trial and error. What works for some families doesn’t always work for others. And what works one week may not work the next.
  15. Shopping for a baby is so much more fun than shopping for yourself. Their stuff is just so cute. And there's so many mixed emotions when they grow out of a group of clothes. You get excited about the new stuff, but you get so sad about packing up the clothes that have become too small for your baby.
  16. There really is nothing like the love you have for your child. I didn’t need sixteen weeks to figure this one out. It’s just with each week, my love for her grows so much more. Even with the bad days, the exhausted days, the whiny days . . . being a parent is still awesome. 

Our little sixteen-week-old