I have found myself being very consumerist recently. Just spending tons of time browsing through clothes, toys, etc. Like, if I buy the perfect thing, my life will become perfect. R and I don’t spend a lot of money by choice because we both would rather save our money so we have more flexibility later on in life with how we want to spend our time. But coming back to work and with MG becoming more interested in the world, I have this quiet anxiety that is telling me to be more perfect. I have probably spent hours looking at beautiful rainbow blocks, stacking bowls, play silks, etc. At the same time, we work very hard to not give MG too many toys and overwhelm her. So where is this drive coming from? It’s like some perverted thought that if I don’t get the right things, life won’t be good. I think I’m going to pause on online shopping for a while and let myself reconnect more with the natural rhythm of my life.
I remember when I was pregnant, R and I got into an argument with my parents around how we didn’t want to buy that much baby stuff. Their side of the argument, “babies need a lot of stuff!!!!” I still disagree. This is a list of what we found to be the only essential items:
– a place for the baby to sleep. I would highly, highly recommend a baby box. We used the “SnuggleNest.” A box means you can have the baby fall asleep anywhere while still having the baby feel like it’s in a familiar place. Plus, later on you can put the box inside the crib and the adjustment goes super well.
– silicone bottles. We used comotomo brand which I liked a lot because the silicone and the wide mouth meant you don’t need a bottle brush to wash them out.
– diapers. Goes without saying.
– warm clothes. Babies run cold, or at least our baby did. It was not unusual for her to sleep in an inside onesie, a wool sweater vest (handknit by grandma), footed PJs, and a hat.
– blankets to swaddle with. We used regular receiving blankets and didn’t buy swaddlers.
– a baby bathtub. Our kiddo legit cried every time we bathed her, which we did every day! But in a few weeks, she started associating bath time with bed time which is still the case. The one time in her entire life we skipped the bath, she would. not. go. to. sleep.
– a white noise machine, though we used our phones for the first few months.
– burp cloths. Get more than you think you need. Once you are out, time to do laundry!
– a mode of transportation for the baby (wrap, car seat, etc.). This one is highly variable based on your situation. We did a mix of wraps (the ktan), car seat in car (the maxi cosi mico 30…insane name for a car seat if you ask me), and car seat attachment with stroller).
– and for mom: massages, post-partum pies (and really unlimited food), and at least a night bottle of formula administered by someone else so she can get some sleep).
It is overlap week! The one week where R and I overlap our parental leaves. We had thought we’d need a week to transition MG, but she hit a really good napping pattern last week and it seems like anybody (aka at least R and I) can now put her down for a nap. What caused this do you ask? Why, after a month or so of rolling to her belly and then crying during sleep, she’s decided it is much preferable to sleep on her belly. Therefore, she refuses to roll onto her belly herself and when you roll her, she instantly goes to sleep…babies!
So far, overlap week has mostly been fun. We’re being productive beasts — scheduling a house cleaning, donating a bunch of stuff. We’re also trying to schedule fun things every day — blogging, watching Stranger Things, hopefully a few beach trips. MG has been getting pretty bad heat rash so we mostly stay inside the house.
And next week, I go back to work. Part-time for a month and then full-time…I’m sort of nervous about going back (and honestly, slightly resentful that I had the “hard” part of the leave bc MG is now so fun and so playful and takes lots of long naps every day!) but I think it will be good for me. And it will be good for R and MG to hang out together more too.
A pattern I’ve noticed — married couples without kids come to visit. The man leaves wanting a baby, while the woman leaves having decided she’ll postpone babies for at least a few more years.
I haven’t written in a while. Life feels sort of like I’m on a hamster wheel, but my companion becomes a more efficient babbler every day. In four weeks I go back to work, so it’s been a bit easier for me to enjoy my time off and see the silver lining in being home because I know my time left is finite. But still, man oh man, do I think I’m better off as the working parent rather than the stay-at-home parent. For a month, I’ll be working 3.5 days a week, and then I’ll be back full-time after labor day. R will be off until November.
Friends of ours came into town and we were talking about what it’s like to have a baby. R was like it’s about 10% harder every day. I said it’s about 30% harder every day. I’ll be very curious to revisit the conversation after he’s on leave for a while and I’m back at work.
R has always liked to do a meditation before bed. We rotate through a body scan from our MBSR class and the classic Headspace sleep meditation. But after months, or maybe even years, of doing these, I have lost my ability to use them meditatively and instead will just listen to them and think about how I could have fallen asleep 20 minutes ago had the meditation not been on. Enter Headspace Sleepcasts. These are nuts! They are basically a narrated nothingness with some ambient noise. The first time R put one on, I fell asleep on the sofa, with two other adults and a crying baby around. They take place in absurdist environments (like a night pool or a neighborhood post-carnival) and go…nowhere. Perfect to get you to sleep.
It’s Friday morning. I’ve been up since six (20 minutes feeding a crying baby who fell right back asleep), three hours ago. Monday is off. It’s a long weekend! Though I am full-time “working in the home” right now, I am still ecstatic that it’s a long weekend. It’s a long weekend! My sister is coming to visit from Maine! R will be off work for THREE DAYS. On Monday we’ll have a picnic with friends! On Wednesday my parents get home from vacation and can visit MG! It’s a long weekend!
Here’s to hoping for a long weekend filled with this:
- Brooklyn Blackout Cake (requested from a bakery in Maine)
- Installing curtains, or at least learning how to install curtains
- Grasping and side-rolling
- Long walks (some of us in our new sunhats)
- Friends and family
- Baby snuggles
- Donating the enormous bags full of baby items
One of the pleasures of being on leave is time to read. I’ve been reading for a few hours each day. Most recently, I finished Through the Children’s Gate, an autobiographical series of essays about raising children in New York City. Though in someways completely unrelatable to my life (the kids go to Dalton, the family lives on the Upper East Side), there is a poignancy and nostalgia for both New York and for childhood that I found moving. A lot of the essays were previously published in the New Yorker, including this one about a three-year-old’s imaginary friend, Charlie Ravioli.