There is a deep loneliness in parenting. In being the default parent – the one home from work, the one who might not leave the house if it is overcast, the one who listens at night to see if the baby’s fussing will calm itself or escalate. I leave MG with her father, her grandparents, very easily. I know they all know how to take care of her and that they love her as much as I do. But it’s a temporary break from a permanent burden. The full weight rests on me alone. I am curious to see what the dynamic is like in August when R is off work for 16 weeks, I’m back at work, and she is no longer breastfeeding.
Not that much is on my mind right now. I feel like I’m just living an endless loop on groundhog’s day. Sleeping, eating, taking a shower, changing diapers, feeding, burping, waiting for MG to wake up, etc. There is a bit of rhythm to my days, in terms of more sleeping in the morning and more fussiness in the evenings, but it’s pretty variable. And there’s no sense of weekday versus weekend except when the NY Times comes or which adult people I am seeing. It’s sort of a weird way to live life, especially when I compare it to my weekday/weekend life that I’ve been living since basically forever.
I do feel like having pockets of time but no real schedule has made me very mindless. I use my phone a ton and am generally hopping from superficial activity to superficial activity instead of doing the things that I know I find more grounding like meditating, stretching, tidying, etc.
This weekend we’re headed back to our apartment so maybe I will use that for a shift moment. Plus, our stroller is coming so we’ll be able to take some walks!
I debated what to call this post because life with a baby is now just…life. MG is 2.5 weeks old. My days now look like — feeding her, changing her, soothing her, napping with her (or reading, or waiting for her to wake up from a nap), etc. The learning curve has been/is steep, but I can now do a few things competently, like dressing her, picking up a newborn so their neck doesn’t fall off, changing a diaper, etc. I can also recognize the wail of hunger compared to her other cries. It has been very nice being off work and not having to immediately balance a new family life with any other responsibilities. And my parents have been immensely helpful too, taking a lot of night feedings (thanks electric breast pump!) and having food available that I can eat when ravenous.
My new ‘goals’ are very minor — basically find some time to do a few self-care things. I’ve been pretty good at journaling and going for walks, so trying to find a few minutes for meditation or stretching when I get a chance.,
I definitely wake up every morning now thinking if today is the day. Weirdly, I have felt better in recent weeks than I did during the really hard 35-37 week period. Not sure why that is. Even though I’m down to the final stretch, I have no intuitive sense of when it will happen. My midwife the other day was like, “Could be in 10 minutes! But it could be in 3 weeks.” The pelvic pain has definitely ramped up, but other than that a lot of my symptoms (like the sciatica have been relieved). I’m also feeling a little pre-nostalgic around not being pregnant anymore…so in some ways I’m so excited (and anxious) to meet the baby, but in another way, I’m already looking back on this time with my B.O.M.B. (baby of my belly) and how sweet it was, and how much I feel like I already know and love the baby after months and months of watching it grow and move and develop. Definitely a period of gentleness on myself and also a continuing letting go of control and realizing that time moves forward regardless of my personal choice.
Here is my monthly review for January. If you want to read December’s, check it out here.
Meta-note: I am actually thinking about stopping weekly updates and monthly reviews. I’ve done them for over a year and they fit a certain sort of linear structure that I’m not sure will fit nicely into my life in the next few months. My January review is here, but definitely considering leaving some flexibility in the next few months for what forms of blogging are working for me.
1) What went well this month?
- Enforcing boundaries. So, I often think our cultural narrative around enforcing boundaries is a bit played out, but in January I basically did not GAF re anything someone else wanted me to do. Unlike my usual self, I bailed on all sorts of plans and I…didn’t feel bad about it at all. I took the time and space and energy that I needed for myself.
- Coffee shops. I’ve been working from home a lot but have developed a nice routine related to the coffee shop. I go to one about a twenty-minute walk from my apartment, and do some work there for a few hours, and walk home. It’s become very relaxing.
- Working through a book I’ve been loving on how to work less. Related to the topic on my mind at the moment, I’ve been really enjoying the exercises in this book and what I’ve been learning.
2) What didn’t go well this month?
- I sort of want to say pregnancy, but it doesn’t feel fair. Pregnancy has been hard this month for sure but it’s not not “going well.” It’s going as it should.
3) What did I work on last month and how did it go?
- Feeling at ease around baby prep. This was eh. I don’t know that it’s really an achievable goal to feel “ready.” But I do think we are done with buying stuff, which is nice.
- More single-tasking. This has been okay…it often goes hand-in-hand with coffee shop activity. I have been taking to turning my phone onto airplane mode when I want to do focused work which helps a lot, but definitely not something I’m excelling at.
- Nourishment. This continues to be my guiding star, and likely will continue to be for the future.
4) What am I working towards?
- Day-to-day and moment-to-moment presence. The next month will probably be beyond anything I can imagine. I want to give myself the space to experience it as it comes, rather than needing to understand or digest or judge what’s happening.
Week 38!!!!! That is probably a sufficient and accurate enough entry for this week. I was chatting with a dear friend last night who was like what’s going on with you besides pregnancy and I was like…it’s all pregnancy. That’s all I’ve got going on. Work wise, I’m feeling good and the end is definitely in sight. If I can get to Wed, I’ll have had my last essential meeting and then a week after that, will be off for a good, long while. It’s so strange to be in a spot where I am finishing work. Physically, I’m actually feeling sort of better. Weeks 36-37 felt brutal, but I have some energy again and am sleeping pretty consistently. Scaling down my life to a few walks a day and mostly working from home has been really nice.
R is also in a job interview process, so fingers crossed for that…there’s a tiny chance the transition could leave him with some more time to take off in the early months, which would be fabulous. But even if not, I think we’ll be okay because he’ll be doing 3-day work weeks for a while. I am feeling very grateful for our situations and also generally disgusted with American policies towards new parents.
We’ve been talking to the baby a lot when we’re home from work. Sort of these insane conversations like, “In two weeks you’ll be here! A week is like a measure of time. Time is…the speed at which light moves?” And the baby has been moving insanely. Ze can really whack a punch now because I think the capacity of my uterus is pretty maxed out. See you soon, little baby!
Have you read this article yet? It really got me thinking about how I think about and structure my time. I’m a very task-oriented person. It makes me excel at work, but also makes me sort of manically work through my weekend to-do list in a way that emphasizes productivity. In a way, I have the opposite problem that this person has…I’m almost too efficient at the doing, and not at the being.
I’ve noticed since becoming pregnant I structure my weekends like this even more so. It became a thing to get ready for baby but now it’s like this weird haze of stress that sits over a lot of my weekend time. This is true even though I feel like R and I are pretty good at having relaxing weekends — watching exactly one episode of TV, going to the coffee shop, taking a nice walk.
I was at the library the other day and started browsing through this book on bullet journaling and it struck me as insanely obsessive. Like, here’s an idea — try to track every single thing you do to put nonstop pressure on yourself to be perfect. Oh yeah, and make sure it is visually pleasing as well. I have this same thing with fitbits and apple watches and all of those things meant to track data for…basically no reason. Even a meditation timer I downloaded recently tracks stats like how long my meditation ‘streak’ is, which makes you feel like meditation only counts if it is logged into the app. But what about time spent mindfully walking or drinking coffee?
I do track some data in my life — when I was lifting for strength, I wrote down my lifts. And I used to track my period and ovulation to avoid and then become pregnant. But the idea of quantifying my own life on this track to continuos improvement or productivity makes me feel very unhappy. Why not be okay with how I am and how my life looks at this moment, and practice being in this moment instead?