Loss. And Gain.

My husband’s uncle passed away last Monday evening, suddenly and fairly young. And I’m not sure what was harder, grieving or watching him and his family grieve.

I boarded the plane to Chicago thinking, “All right, I just have to make it through a funeral with a 15 month old, that’s all. Then we’re back home.”

But, what I had forgotten was I have known my husband’s family nearly as long as I’ve known him, about 8 years now. And they’re a very tight-knit family. And they brought me in immediately, from day one. His uncle included.

So, when we arrived and attended the wake, it hit me like a ton of bricks. But, the kiddo was remarkably well-behaved. Almost as if he knew. And thank the Lord for that. It was so wonderful to have my family there. And now, more than ever, I know that they are my family.

How I Do

Today some friends and I were sitting around talking about a typical day in the life of a parent. One of them works outside the home, one works part time in the home and the other does not work. I work full time in the home, and I don’t have any help (i.e. nanny or babysitter) and all three of them said, “I have no idea how you do it.”

Quite frankly, I don’t either. I have 18 hour days, yeah, but it never feels like that. It mostly involves a lot of sitting in the playroom with my laptop, timing conference calls with naptime or dinnertime, letting the housework go sometimes (if it weren’t for guests, my floors would never be vacuumed) and just tapping into that never-ending mom energy to get done what needs to be done. And yet somehow I have time to blog, read a magazine, make a cup of tea, watch a TV show, paint my toenails, breathe.

Working at home with no help was, of course, a LOT easier when Bowie was 4 months and immobile. I could just lay him on his back under a playmat with some dangly toys and I’d be set for a few hours. Then I’d put him down for a nap and have a few more hours. Now that he’s walking and taking one 2 hour nap a day, it’s rough. I’ve had to get more creative with how I manage my time and fit in an 8 hour day’s worth of work.

If I were tied to a 9-5 schedule, there’s no way I could do it. I’d have to hire some help. Every day gets harder and harder but I still find ways to get by. I have no idea how I do it, but I do.

Where has he been all my life?

You’re never going to believe this, but up until about 12 hours ago, I was a complete David Sedaris virgin. Yes me, the creative writing degree holder. We’re all supposed to read him in college, right? Well for some reason, in my particular panorama of professors, his work never came up. I had heard him on This American Life and knew I liked his brand of humor, just never picked up a book. Over the years, I have heard all the fans raving, and finally broke down and just bought one of his books already.

Now, 40 pages into Me Talk Pretty One Day, I am Hooked. Capital H. How could I not have discovered this before? And unlike my other current favorite author Melissa Bank, I won’t run out of material after 2 books. Last night, reading in bed, I’m like, hey eyes, can’t you stay open for just one more story? Eyes: no we can’t, we’ve been open since 5:30 am and we need…to…close…now.

I guess I can’t call it an obsession yet, since it’s only the beginning, but definitely a budding obsession.

Where Has He Been All My Life?

You’re never going to believe this, but up until about 12 hours ago, I was a complete David Sedaris virgin. Yes me, the creative writing degree holder. We’re all supposed to read him in college, right? Well for some reason, in my particular panorama of professors, his work never came up. But, over the years, I have heard his name here and there, and finally broke down and just bought one of his books already. Well, I had heard him on This American Life and knew I liked his brand of humor.

Now, 40 pages into Me Talk Pretty One Day, I am Hooked. Capital H. How could I not have discovered this before? And unlike my current favorite author Melissa Bank, I won’t run out of material after 2 books. Last night, reading in bed, I’m like, hey eyes, can’t you stay open for just one more story? Eyes: no we can’t, we’ve been open since 5:30 am and we need…to…close…now.

I guess I can’t call it an obsession yet, since it’s only the beginning, but definitely a budding obsession.

Ten things I want you to know about having a baby

  1. Childbirth isn’t that bad. Yes, it hurts. Yes, it hurts a lot. But, you get through it. Some simple breathing exercises, an epidural, squeezing the life out of your partner’s hand, there are ways to get through. Think of it this way: it’s what your body was made to do. So, don’t have a planned C-section just to avoid labor. As a friend has said, “You don’t know pain until you sneeze with a fresh C-section wound.”
  2. Breastfeeding is hands down the best thing for your baby. I know some of you will have trouble with it. It’s not easy for everyone, in fact it’s not easy for anyone. If you stick with it and your milk supply is ok, you’ll get the hang of it. I’m not saying you have to stick with it for very long, an amount is beneficial. But, just try it. If it doesn’t work, so be it. At least you tried. P.S. It’s not weird, not even with a son. I too thought it would be, but it was quite the opposite.
  3. You don’t have to go for days without showering. I used to read about this all the time and I was seriously freaking out. I loves me some showers. But, I have yet to go a full 24 hours without taking a shower. There are simple tricks to doing this: putting the baby in a swing or bassinet outside the bathroom door, showering while baby naps… just rest assured you don’t have to give up your regular morning shower to be a mother.
  4. You can have alcohol if you’re breastfeeding. Just one or two drinks has no affect on your baby. More than that, and you should not nurse for 2 hours, but you can pump and have milk on reserve for such occasions. I mean, abstain from alcohol if you want to, but it’s not necessary.
  5. Go to every mom-baby activity or new mom group in your area. You might not click with all the women, but you will find a few good go-to people, and maybe even make some new friends. Plus, you and baby both need that time away from the home to keep your sanity. Trust me.
  6. Rotate the toys. Keep a healthy stash of toys hidden away, and a handful of toys out in the regular play area. If one day the baby seems to not want to play with anything, swap the toys with some from the stash and it’s like a brand new set of toys to them. Works like a charm.
  7. Sleep when the baby sleeps. At least in the first 6 months. I know you’ve heard this a zillion times, I know I did. But, I’m telling you to take heed. It’s so important to keep yourself rested and healthy so you can take care of the little one. Let the housework go. Nothing will happen if the laundry or dishes sit for an extra day, believe me.
  8. Take me-time or have a date night only if you feel like it. I felt really pressured into taking a date night with my husband, about the time my baby was 5 months old. But, I wasn’t ready. And I sat and worried about the baby so much that I could barely participate in conversation with my husband. He and his sister (our babysitter for that evening) told me I was too much of a worry wart and needed to “cut the cord”. But, I was totally ready two months later, and relished in the time away from baby. Yes, getting away is important for your marriage and for your sanity. But don’t feel pressured into doing it before you’re ready.
  9. Travel early and travel often. In the first 6 months, your baby is so portable and travels so well, you have to get out and go places, even if it’s only a few states over to visit family. After 6 months, they become more mobile and are harder to transport. They don’t want to sit still, they don’t want to be quiet, and good luck trying to keep their nap schedule. It will be tough to travel for a few years, so try to get the travel bug out of your system while the little one is still really, uh, little.
  10. Sex is going to feel different. And I mean *different*. And you may not want to have it for a while. But, don’t fret. You WILL want to again. And you just have to acclimate yourself to your new body and learn a few new tricks.