Ok, well, I know I haven't written for awhile . . . my perfectionist tendencies caused me to keep trying to "catch up" in my entries, and I finally realized I just needed to write one, and let it go, for pete's sake.
I was really excited about this entry as of February/March. There is so much to relate, so much to say! We went to Disneyland recently, and it was wonderful. Sophia loves Tigger, even though she wasn't quite so into the Winnie-the-Pooh himself.
I held off on publishing the following paragraph for a long time. It wasn't the only reason I didn't write for awhile, but enough time has passed that I'm glad it wasn't the only experience I had to share:
I truly hope this doesn't offend anyone spiritually. Ultimately, I have come to the conclusion that, as life is a series of actions and choices and nothing more. If I die tomorrow, I pray that I get to watch over my baby, and vice versa. If I make a wrong decision- if I should have kept in the teaching biz for the next few months- I hope no one's experience suffers. But I keep having to deal with this feeling of being removed. I love my baby, and I interact with her at every chance. I look forward to holding her and smelling her at the end of the day…which, of course, makes her my goal in life. If I am desperate to get home to a baby, after seeing 180 other students, obviously the baby is my life, right? I enjoy her, I protect her, I would do anything for her. We love each other and she is my everything.
But . . . once in a while . . . an infrequent while…this same sense of helplessness creeps up in ways I don't know what to do with. It is conflicting. It isn't what I want to feel. She is beautiful, but I have to get up early to pump milk for her, and I never get to see the beauty that gobbles it down. I hear her on the phone, and I have to relax enough to pump milk at work.
I get these sudden flashes where I feel totally removed. This isn't my life, or any life. This is just an experience, like all experiences. This is just a state of feeling, good or bad.
Well, at the moment, all I have to say is . . . she is amazing. I am so glad to have moved on from feeling neutral. It was very hard for me to "journal" as a verb when I was trying so hard to feel happy, but just feeling like I was eeeeeking by, day to day.
Now, she's 22 lbs at 8.5 months. She is still needier than a typical 22 lb baby would be, but that doesn't deter me from the gut feeling I have to satisfy her needs. This makes it fundamentally difficult when she is at her "neediest" (her top two teeth are now emerging, which we can hardly believe since we've seen her with only the bottom two for so long).
Even though I am "officially" taking time off from "real" work, Jeremiah will bring her in my room when I'm napping and say "I don't know what else to do with her . . ." or "She just WON'T go to sleep . . ." even when she isn't hungry, or anything else that I would normally satisfy. This is hard when she won't be satisfied by ANYthing, and I even feel ashamed sometimes because it is so obvious that J expects me to be able to satisfy her cry no matter what.
It's additionally hard because he also thinks I should LET her cry at CERTAIN times . . . if he thinks she is just "whining" when he's put her down to rest, he gets irritated with me if I am agitated by her cries. Right now, we seem to be constantly fighting over this. To put her to bed means to ignore her . . . I keep getting mixed messages from him, which are overridden by her anyway. I always end up doing what I feel is best for her, even if it causes an altercation later on.
It's an odd balance. We finally moved her out of the co-sleeper into her own crib, but she still wakes up at least at 4:30 and 6:30am to nurse. Sometimes it's earlier, sometimes later. This unpredictability still disrupts my sleep . . . the more sleep-deprived I am, the less functional I get.
He is a wonderful daddy, but I marvel at how much he expects me to take on as a stay-at-home Mommy. All of a sudden I'm responsible for all cleaning, all trashes (including kitty-litter . . . which is apparently making up for the time I was pregnant and unable to take it out), all laundry, all baby issues including doctor visits, all shopping lists, all coupon-cutting and sales-watching, all organizing in general . . . it's more than a full-time job would be.
We went to Las Vegas, which was fun. (We went because Sophia's great-grandfather was going with his wife to a conference, and then my parents were going to yet another conference later in the week! But hey, who needs an excuse??).
She took her first dip in the pool at Excalibur, and she met her great-grandfather for the first time. We ate at the Hofbräuhaus in Las Vegas which was great. Unfortunately, he had a blood vessel burst while we were in Las Vegas, and he spent the whole time with what he called an "inflatable tampon" up his nose. We're planning to go visit them in Ohio this July . . . he's apparently had another vessel burst since then, but we're hoping he'll hang in there until we see him again.
My brother also came out to visit from Harvard. David and I got along fine when we were kids, but not so much when we were teens (there was at least one family trip to San Francisco where I was the only "adult" child, and I just couldn't take being smooshed in with all five of us, which my parents did to save money, so I took the BART and flew myself back home with the $110 I had in my account from working minimum wage at the time). Now that he is 22 we've gotten along well every time he comes to visit, and he is wonderful with Sophia. He's decided on a graduate program at Stanford, which I hope means we'll see more of him here in SoCal. We are planning to fly out to Boston for his graduation in June.
On a more general note . . . a lot of people ask me "How is everything?" or "How do you like being at home all the time?" or even, "How do you like your vacation?" I know they are just being polite, but it makes me think . . .
My vacation? Are you kidding? But they aren't kidding; they never are. I just tell them what they expect to hear: I am enjoying it; Sophia is wonderful; it's so much better . . . which is all true, so I don't feel bad, but there is much being omitted. It feels like that episode of Desperate Housewives where Lynette runs into a former coworker who asks how things are going as a stay-at-home mom . . . and Lynette knows the expected answer, so she says "It's the best job I've ever had," right as her sons crash a shopping cart into an old lady.
I still feel a bit like a human dairy; I still feel anxiety due to my work, which (I know) makes no sense, but I am expected to return in August, so I still think about it; I feel guilty when I diet to lose baby weight, since I am still breastfeeding; I can't leave her for more than a few hours without pumping, so I'm constrained in my schedule; J's mom is "retiring" early (as much for herself, his 8-year-old stepsister and her newly-widowed mother-in-law, as for us) and hopes to watch Sophia when I return to work. But this seems to take away my option to stay home in Jeremiah's mind. Why would I stay home when his mother is available to watch the baby? What can I possibly provide for Sophia (when I'm done breastfeeding) that couldn't be provided with another caretaker?
I don't know what to say when he asks me these things. I'm smarter? Maybe. I'm trained more? Sort of . . . for older children. I have better instincts? Certainly, but why more than any other mother? This is a tough spot. All of a sudden, I feel like I have ALWAYS considered how people learn. I remember Electric Company, and Today's Special, and original Sesame Streets with Joe Raposo's songs, all etched into my brain. I sing them to Sophia without even thinking. J always asks how I know "all these songs." If I do this so easily, certainly this must be a calling, right? Could someone else do this so spontaneously? I doubt it.
Is it so wrong to think I am unique in my baby's upbringing? He thinks there would be no detriment whatsoever in letting his mother play such a big child-rearing part.
I hope other mothers reading this will not feel like they have to hide a difficult time due to misunderstandings or fear of what it might do to their career. It's very hard to explain everything to people who don't understand depression or anxiety.
Jeremiah's stepdad's father (we thought of him as family) passed away recently, and his funeral is May 2. This will be Sophia's first funeral. I'll let you know how that whole thing goes, of course.
On a happier note, we got to attend the ordination of the minister who married us back in 2006, and show Sophia off! I plan to write more often, since we've been in a better routine lately. I'm actually looking forward to this weekend (Easter), since we haven't seen the extended family in awhile, and I'm finally looking more like my old self . . . lost 30 pounds since the start of the year, so I am more confident than I've been in awhile.
I was thinking that this entry was too much about me (instead of about Sophia), but really it's about parenting, not just a place to brag about our children, which I'm sure I could do for a number of pages . . . she's just perfect, as far as I can tell!