It is difficult to fully describe, or even recall in detail, everything that has happened since the last blog post at week 3. Every day is different. Every day, a little change occurs. But to give a general sense, it suffices to say that I have now mentally settled that I will simply have to live with this little alien (until she turns human, which I hear is about at the age of 2, at which point she promptly turns into a difficult human, but human nevertheless), and there is no running away or regret or thoughts of "what if...". It simply is the way it is.
More importantly perhaps is now I am integrating my non-parent self --- the self that codes for a living, goes to circus to exercise, and prides oneself in writing good Yelp reviews to become an elite Yelp member --- with the self that is the struggling new mother who asks her recently acquired LINE friends what brands of diapers to use and laments about having to take antibiotics for a post-partum UTI (yeah, it took me six weeks to realize it's not normal to urinate with pain, even if you've suffered a second-degree tear giving birth).
The restoration of sanity
I think there were several things that helped me bring myself back out from the depths of post-partum blues. The most major of which was getting a part-time nanny even though I am still on maternity leave. The first day the nanny showed up, took the baby out on a walk so I could fold laundry and check email, I felt instantly lifted. It was miraculous. Here was someone who'd taken care of her own child and many others. While no two kids are the same and this baby excels at creating new problems (more on the later), and the nanny may not have solutions for everything, at least she wouldn't freak out and has many tricks up her sleeves.
And if anything, having lived with the baby for 8 weeks now, I am also developing my own set of tricks. If she is hungry, I feed her. If she is fussy, I take her out on a walk and let her fall asleep in the carrier. I can tell pretty well when she should be napping and when she would wake up hungry. And because I am the food source and --- thank goodness after 5 weeks of breastfeeding training day and night, my nipples have now emerged INVINCIBLE (until she grows teeth, that is) --- I have the easiest time out of all those who have to take care of her.
This doesn't mean she doesn't ever cry. Oh, she sure cries. She used to sleep just fine in the stroller and she used to like being in the carseat. But for the past 2-3 weeks, she started greatly resenting the stroller and would only want to be carried with the carrier. The carseat is another interesting challenge --- she would fall asleep if we were on the highway driving at 60 MPH+ without stopping, but as soon as we get off the highway, she wakes up and screams.
Yes...she can go from this:
To this, pretty fast.
And perhaps the most difficult challenge we are currently facing right now is her refusing to be bottlefed. Doesn't matter if the breastmilk is thawed, fridged, or freshly pumped. She knows it's not the real deal. Very occassionally she will take the bottle, but only after crying for a very long period of time. My personal theory is that since I'm still on leave, I'm around the house when the nanny is here, so the baby senses that the bottle is not her only way to get food. While this poses no issue to me, it makes the nanny's job (and Ian's) very difficult, as they cannot soothe her when she is hungry or fussy. For now, our strategy is to not leave the bottle completely out of the picture. The nanny still tries to give her the bottle and if she feels like the baby has cried a bit too much, and I happen to be in the house, she sends the baby my way. But she also insist that on days when there is no nanny, that Ian or I must continue to try to bottlefeed her.
Only last tonight had I felt a little success in getting her to not completely hate the bottle. I waited until she had already drank from the breast and wasn't hangry, but also not completely full, then I put the bottle to her lips and let her play with the bottle a bit. She fiddled with the bottle nipple with her tongue and tried to push it out of her mouth. I held the bottle a little tighter after a few of her tongue pushes, and she did eventually make a few weak attempts to drink from the bottle. It is possible she had forgotten how to drink from the bottle, or is just confused why I out of all people was offering her a non-breast, but nevertheless....I see it as progress. Like everything with her, it's about advancing a little at a time.
What's in a smile
I remember a few weeks back, people would tell me: oh, you'll start to feel better when she starts smiling.
And I dejectedly responded: what's the use of her smiling? I want her to start TALKING and tell me why she is crying!
But of course they are always right. First of all, when she is smiling, she isn't crying. And second of all, she is smiling.
Right now, she likes to smile the most at two times: getting her diaper changed (hey, who doesn't like getting their butt cleaned?)
...and right after a satisfying good meal of breastmilk (again, who doesn't like having their belly full of delicious milk?)
Her newly acquired ability to smile echoes her other developments. She can now focus and track objects; she will attempt to make different sounds; she can open her fists better now...In other words, she is growing. And that's what I think brings the most fun out of having a baby (cuz seriously a good part of it suck ass, right?).
With my mom friends who all have babies that are further along (6 mo, 11 mo, 1 yr, and 2 yr olds), I can also see what is coming down the road, and it looks AWESOME. It's funny how I see a walking 1-yr old and think loudly to myself "I cannot wait till I don't have to hold her all the time and do everything with one hand!" and see a talking 2-yr old and be completely mindblown ("OMG eventually you can communicate with them?!")
This too will pass
And speaking of my new mom friends, I cannot be happier to have known them. The Internet is helpful in many ways, but nothing helps like venting to other moms about having a diaper explosion, breastfeeding pains, how expensive raising a kid in SF is, etc....
They don't say "Oh, just wait til she gets to X mo/yr and then..." which I think is the worse and most inconsiderate thing you can say to a new parent.
Instead, their own stories bring hope. And truth to the words, "Remember, this too will pass." The baby can't sleep without a nipple or some prolonged soothing now --- but I know she eventually will. The baby won't take a bottle --- that's OK now, but I know she will when I go back to work, cuz if there's one thing I'm certain of, she loves to eat more than anything.
As for myself, I also am trying to return to my original human form, and as hard as it is, I have to believe that I will get back to where I was intellectually, mentally, and physically. With the part-time nanny, I have begun my long trek back to circus. I did not realize how strong I was before the baby until I saw how freaking weak I am now. I don't yet know if and when I will be back to where I was, but I sure as hell will not give up now.