One week of parenting down . . .

My mother-in-law left today. She’s been staying with us for the past week, helping out and keeping us from going insane or burning the house down. She got into her car and Robin and I looked at each other and said, “Oh dear god, we’re on our own now.” Of course, Tommy promptly freaked out while he was in his car seat, and we couldn’t do anything about his wailing until we got home, which was a very stressful 15 minutes later. I hope this is just one of those things and not an omen.

I think we’ve been doing pretty well so far. I mean, we haven’t broken the kid yet, so that’s a good thing.

Here's Tommy dressed as a football because that's why we have kids, right? For our own amusement.

Here’s Tommy dressed as a football because that’s why we have kids, right? For our own amusement.

We like Tommy, but he doesn’t have much of a personality yet. Really, his most distinguishing characteristic is that he like to suck on things: boobs, pacifiers, his fingers, he’s not terribly picky. He’s essentially like a very cute puppy, but one without legs, so you have to carry it around all the time. And you don’t get mad when he wakes you up every three hours at night because like you do with a puppy because he’s your kid, which I guess is what makes the difference in everything. That hormonal tie is a really powerful thing.

Parenting has come to me more naturally than I expected. It’s amazing how normal it seems that I have a kid now. I would have no idea what to do with a five-year-old, or even a toddler, but a newborn I can handle. I guess that’s one of those evolutionary wonders, nature eases you into the process very gradually. Nine months of pregnancy get you used to the fact that you’ll have a baby in your life, and the first few months of babyhood get you used to being attached to this little creature before you have to do much with it.

Stella, on the other hand, has had her world rocked rather abruptly. She is suddenly not the center of our attention, but that isn’t her greatest concern. She seems convinced that the protecting the baby is her new purpose in life. Any time Tommy cries or even whimpers, Stella has to check out what is going on and alert us that THINGS ARE NOT OKAY. She feels the need to sniff the baby as often as she can, which means she sticks her face right in the cradle. And she whimpers when the baby is crying, which adds to the chaos, and she walks right in front of us whenever we carry the baby anywhere. Needless to say, she’s lucky to have survived the week, although she’s calming down a bit now.

Stella has to make sure her baby is okay.

Stella has to make sure her baby is okay.

I’m pleasantly surprised by how well nighttime feedings are going. I’m normally a very heavy sleeper, and I’m also one of those people who absolutely CANNOT get up early to go to the gym or whatever, so I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to get up with the baby. But I hear him fussing every time, and I can get myself awake to feed him, and I’m not even in a bad mood when I do. It helps that I know that I absolutely have to do this, and that I like Tommy enough not to resent it. And I also don’t have to get up early for work or anything. We’re having him sleep in a little cradle next to the bed, so I really just have to sit up, grab him, and spend half an hour reading while he eats.

Breastfeeding was a little touch-and-go at first. I read everything I could get my hands on before Tommy was born, and a lot of women told stories of how breastfeeding had been really difficult or hadn’t worked out. I was scared that it wouldn’t go well for me, but I tried to keep my mind open for whatever works best rather than getting too tied up in the idea that breastfeeding was the only option. So when the doctor said that we needed to supplement with formula while my milk hadn’t come in yet, I didn’t freak out. I just hoped that we’d be able to phase it out soon. And it happened; my milk came in a few days later, I’m now exclusively breastfeeding, and the kid isn’t starving to death. That isn’t to say that it’s always easy. Latching on still hurts like hell for a breathtaking couple of seconds, and I’m sore a lot, but we’ll get there.

In short, we’re doing pretty well. Robin is on leave for another week, so we have some more time to get used to our new lives. And we haven’t been trapped in our house the whole time; we’ve gotten out and about a bit and tested the car seat, the stroller, and the Baby Bjorn, all of which we can successfully operate. Now we just need to see what happens when left to our own devices, without nice people bringing us meals every day and grandma helping out around the house. I think we’ll make it.

Tommy does a lot of this. That means we can cart him around just about anywhere these days.

Tommy does a lot of this. That means we can cart him around just about anywhere these days.

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