Friday, June 20, 2014

Baby on a Plane!

This has been a week of big firsts, soon to be followed by more firsts. Last Saturday we did what some would consider criminally insane: J and I boarded not one but two airplanes with a ten-week old baby. The looks one gets when one flies with an infant are priceless. You either get "bless-your-heart-look-at-that-sweet-baby-it's-hard-to-be-a-parent-good-luck!" or "I'd-rather-deal-with-snakes-on-a-plane-with-Samuel L. Jackson-than-your-screaming-child." There is no middle path. Fortunately, Henry was a model citizen and did very little vocalizing in the air. Breastfeeding mamas, when in doubt, stick a boob in it. Works like a charm.

Our two flights brought us to Asheville, North Carolina. J's mom and stepdad picked us up from the airport and drove us to their vacation rental an hour and 45 minutes southwest in Highlands, NC. So, 2 plane rides, 2 airports, and 1 winding drive through the mountains later, we arrived with very little drama. We only had to pull over once so that I could stick a boob in it. 

You may "put a bird on it," Portlandia, but Chicago sticks a boob in it.

Our trip here has been lovely. First, it's ridiculously gorgeous. Lush green mountains, waterfalls, placid mountain lakes and a charming main street. We've taken H on his first two real hikes. The trails have been lined with rhododendrons and flame azaleas. We have gotten great photo ops of me breastfeeding Henry on the top of mountains (out of necessity, not to mark my mountain mama territory) and changing his diaper on the trail (baby carriers make excellent changing pads). This week, Henry has come out of his little cocoon and is discovering the world right in front of his face. Literally. On Sunday evening, he found his hands. Mind blown. He stared cross-eyed at his fists and tried repeatedly to bring them to his mouth, instead slowly bumping them into his nose and cheeks. He can suck on his hands no problem when operating by Braille but hand-eye coordination is a son of a bitch. I know; I seriously can't throw or catch a ball with any degree of accuracy. Just beyond his hands, he found the trees and sky so fascinating on our hikes. His little face looked up from the carrier in total awe as we climbed. He's also becoming more vocal. His coos and squeals are getting louder and he is clearly delighted when he hears himself. He is the smiliest baby. Yesterday night at dinner, my favorite thing happened: he discovered my face. He's looked at my face, or some blurry version of it, since the moment he was put on my chest when he was born. But last night he reached out and touched it repeatedly. He flapped his hands on my lips and chin over and over. Maybe my heart-meltiest moment yet. God, I love this boy. My love for him overwhelms me to the point of aching sadness sometimes. I can't describe the manic range of emotions.

Tomorrow we fly back to Chicago with this newly adventurous, curious boy. New toys for the plane ride include hands, improved vocal chords and Mama's face. J goes back to guilt/volunteer work/obligation at the cluster$#%* of a family business I'm impatiently waiting for him to extricate himself from. I will try to savor my last few days of maternity leave. I either want to go to brunch, lunch and coffee with my mom friends every single day or stay at home, never shower, and stare at Henry's face. I go back to the office on Friday, June 27th. I know it will be fine. I am telling myself that daily. I'm not worried about Henry. He's going to do so well at hippie daycare. Just worried about me, my angst over work, pumping in a file room, missing my boy, resenting my superiors, yada yada yada. The usual bullshit plus lactation and the haunting feeling that I should be rocking someone.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

10 Week Update

A week ago, my friend urged me to update my blog and keep writing for the good of all humanity and my family of infertile turtles. I was all, "Oh, you don't understand. See, it's very difficult finding time to write and do all the things when you have a baby." She then narrowed her eyes, stared into my soul and, without words, reminded me that in the three years between the birth of her daughter and this very moment she has written, published and promoted a book, maintained a blog, and worked a regular job. #shamed into writing. Note to self, find less ambitious friends.

Henry is now 10 weeks old and I can completely objectively say that he is the cutest baby that has ever lived. Now, that's a hard thing to write because most of you either want babies, are pregnant, or have babies and you now have to come to grips with the fact that your future and/or current child pales in comparison to mine in the looks department. This is undoubtedly a difficult time for you. H has crazy, spiky reddish-blond hair, giant blue eyes and the sweetest grin. He looks like a baby orangutan in the best way possible. Also, my parents feel strongly that he could be an ear model which I am told is quite lucrative. Behavior-wise he is very much like a standard issue human baby which is to say irrational. He can be utterly charming and happy happy happy one moment and then will collapse into sad wails and tears. Nothing will have happened. No change. Just done with whatever activity he was doing. After 10 weeks, I can sort things out for him quickly. Alert but fussy? Carry him slung over my shoulder and chat with him. Tired and fussy? Swaddle, pacifier, bounce on the yoga ball. Generally broken baby? Again, yoga ball. Lots of yoga ball. Evenings are a lot harder. He's out of his normal eat-play-sleep cycle because he's more tired and more hungry more often. These are the dreaded witching hours and they are no joke. I am told he will grow out of it by the time he's 18. I don't want time to fly by too fast - it already is - but I dream of an evening where I eat at a leisurely pace without an infant attached to my nipple or  without J staring at me while he jiggles said infant and silently wills me to eat faster.

Speaking of time speeding by, I go back to work in 2 weeks. That prospect fills me with agitated dread. In part because I don't exactly adore my job. If I'm going to give up staring at my bean day in and out, I'd like to go back to something I like a little more. I don't know exactly what I want to be when I grow up so I don't yet hope for a job I love. Looking for contentment. I can see the upside to, say, wanting a cup if coffee and then drinking it while it's still warm. I'm trying to focus on the emotional and intellectual balance that working and being a mom could give me. The other part of why I'm not aching to get back to the office is the obvious: I'm obsessed with Henry. He's growing like a weed, picking up new skills constantly, and is more of a person and less a fetus every day. I want to keep watching that happen. Leaving him makes my heart ache. BUT, I found a great daycare for him. They are hilariously obsessed with organic everything. I too enjoy the granola lifestyle but when budget and ease get in the way, I tend to take the synthetic way out. The daycare director made sure to tell me that all carpeting in the facility was made from organic natural fibers. That's...wonderful. Possibly unnecessary but appreciated. She also informed me that as toddlers, outdoor field trips go beyond the park to libraries and fire stations so that the kids can be "integrated into the community." H is going to be far better integrated than I am and don't we all dream of better than we has for our children?

Last post I promised to address two things: breastfeeding and the emotional wake following my FIL's death. I don't have much on either topic. Breastfeeding is good, a boring update. There is sufficient milk, not excessive. I mostly love feeding Henry and greatly appreciate that it came pretty easy for us. Pumping is a son of a bitch but such is life. No one likes pumping. Oh, you do? You're lying. I hope to be able to pump enough so as not to supplement with formula when he's at daycare but if it doesn't happen everyone will live, nay thrive. 
The tumolt surrounding my FIL's death and the fallout of a family business has been devastating. It has rocked my marriage to its core in a way that we never thought possible. We have not gotten to relish our early months as a family as I dreamed we would. But, all that said, we love each other and our son so very much. We're stumbling and figuring it out. I don't want to go in to too much detail because I still can't sort the situation into words. It's exceedingly hard but I have faith we'll make through with flying colors. It is, as they say, the bestest ever of times (I'm looking at you, Hank Dog) and the worst of times. 

Let's end on a high note.

Taken within minutes of each other. 
Sir, you are being irrational.