Always Expect Cold Soup and Other Parenting Revelations at Six Weeks

26 Feb

Annabelle has been kicking around this joint for six weeks now, and boy has it been a steep learning curve for her parents. Here are just a few of the lightbulb moments I’ve had during the last month and a half.

She's trying to figure out her new world, and so are we.

1. They “grow so fast” because of YOU.

Parents frequently talk about how “before you know it,” your kid is smiling, laughing, crawling, walking, talking, dressing for prom and leaving for college. But I never connected the dots that all that growth is not just something that happens outside your control, as if by magic. YOU, the mother, are in charge of providing the sustenance that turns your 7-lb baby into a full-fledged, independent person.

And feeding her is a pain, sometimes literally! It takes over your LIFE! There is no way anybody can prepare you for the constant newborn noshing, morning, noon and night, but it’s pretty much all I think about (and apparently all Annabelle thinks about, too).

2. You have no time because you’re busy doing nothing.

I’ve heard other new parents complain that they don’t even have time to take a shower, but I didn’t quite believe it. I thought maybe that only applied to women whose husbands went right back to work. But I imagined that with two parents at home, we could both attend to the baby’s needs and keep our house in order. Well, we do, but barely, and I still don’t have time for a shower, and I have put off going to the bathroom for hours at a time, waiting endlessly for the right moment. I still cannot tell you why this is. If you asked me what I did on any given day, it would include very little. It would be something like: I fed her and then walked around with her and then fed her. Yet I count myself lucky if I do anything else.

3. You and your husband will spend entire days at home without exchanging a word.

Hours upon hours have gone by in our house without us getting to talk to each other. One of us is doing laps with an inconsolable baby and the other is folding laundry for the 80th time that day. When we find those rare chances to exchange a bit of adult conversation, it feels like a foreign concept: “Oh, you! I think I’ve seen you around here before. Come here often?”

We’re typically that inseparable couple that does everything together, from running errands to cooking dinner to cleaning up afterward, chatting and joking the whole way. But now it’s more like a relay race, where we pick up where the other left off. George cooks while I feed the baby. He eats his meal while I change a diaper. I eat my meal while he puts her to sleep. Or something like that. But doing things together at the same time? Suddenly that seems rare.

4. You shouldn’t count on anything.

Oh, how I crave routine like I’ve never craved it before. Just when I think Annabelle is establishing a pattern, she will break it. For three nights in a row, she’ll go to sleep at 6 p.m. The fourth night I’ll put her down, sit down to my dinner, a glass of wine and some trashy television show, and just as I’m about to take that first sip of hot soup, she calls my bluff with a fit of crying. And it doesn’t stop for four hours. Four hours of routine-breaking madness that drives me crazy not just because that much crying would drive anybody crazy, but also because it tosses out the one little bit of reliability I thought I had. In truth, the only consistency is that your soup will always be cold, because the baby always cries when the food is fresh.

5. Parenting is all about logistics

It was pretty messy the first (and only) time I tried to feed Annabelle in a public place. We were in a restaurant, and I tried to feed her surreptitiously under a “hooter-hider,” my back to the other customers. It was anything but subtle. I didn’t know how to put the contraption over my head with one hand and adjust the strap while holding her in the other hand, so it never fully covered me. The pad in my bra fell out onto the floor, and I was so flustered that when I reached down to pick it up, I almost hit my daughter’s head on the table and definitely flashed the other diners. I ended up just storming out of the restaurant and feeding her in the back of the car, which led to an equally awkward diaper change in the back of the car.

To be a good parent, it turns out, you don’t just have to be good at kissing boo-boos and doing funny voices when you read Roald Dahl books. Long before those are remotely relevant skills, you have to know how to unfold a stroller with just one hand.

15 Responses to “Always Expect Cold Soup and Other Parenting Revelations at Six Weeks”

  1. Sarah February 26, 2012 at 4:20 am #

    I love this blog! My daughter is four months now and we had those exact days. They are a DISTANT memory now! Around seven or eight weeks, my daughter turned a corner and everything changed for the better. When those four hour crying fits started, every minute seemed like an eternity. And now? It is hard for me to even remember those times. I guess that saying is true – the days are long, but the weeks/months/years are short. Hang in there! It really will be behind you soon.

    • speedfamily February 26, 2012 at 5:10 am #

      YAY — so encouraging to hear!! When you’re living them they do seem like forever! But I love hearing about the “light at the end of the tunnel,” (even though of course there are many joys now as well)! Cannot wait for smoother days ahead! Your little girl is GORGEOUS, btw!

  2. Kelly February 26, 2012 at 4:22 am #

    What a great post! I love it. And we found that the relay race style of baby care does die down. Right around then, you have the second child, and you are back to specialization of labor again. But someday (SOMEDAY!) I have hope that Luke and I will be sitting next to each other in the stands of a soccer game, both silently cheering for Henry to stop looking around and start paying attention to the ball.

  3. jen February 26, 2012 at 5:06 am #

    Oh! This totally brings me back.

    By 6 months, you’re sure to have developed the ability to eat an entire meal one-handed, so might actually improve your chances of eating a hot meal! (I can also wash my hair one-handed).

    I nursed in the back seat of the car for the first two months anytime we were out. It gets better (and baby’s head gets bigger, blocking more)… hang in there.

    Probably the only thing that stays consistent is that nothing stays consistent. Ahh, babies.

    • speedfamily February 26, 2012 at 5:12 am #

      Ahh, babies, indeed! Good point about the bigger head! So many things you don’t think about …

  4. Maddie Calhoon February 26, 2012 at 7:33 am #

    Oh Hillary, I feel for you and George. This sounds exhausting. Hopefully, you’ll soon be able to look back on the wardrobe malfunction and laugh hysterically. Distant memory, here we come!

  5. Ann Melrose February 26, 2012 at 2:03 pm #

    Credentials: parent of one almost 21 year old son. Latecomer to the field. Hoping he finishes college before I want to retire.

    I treated parenthood like a full-time, two-decade extension course, not an approach I’d recommend, but I’d been successful at school so I thought it might work the same way. Ha! I was the ultimate bibliophile, devouring anything on child-raising. My course work was logged in a 3 ring notebook full of saved and indexed articles and quotes and advice. I enrolled as soon I we were eligible in what is called Early Childhood Family Educaton in MN. I wanted to be with other moms. I tried to understand his growth and development. He was always 4-5 months ahead of me. I was always still processing the previous phase, and counting on previous expectations and routines. Still happening.

    Your writing reveals that you are still the Hillary you know and bring to your darling Annabelle. The rest will work itself out. You are intact.

    btw: I’m thrilled to be able to see Nina in Mn tomorrow.

    • speedfamily February 26, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

      Thanks, Ann! Have fun seeing my mom!

  6. LisaKami February 26, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

    I ended up using the hooter-hider for show and not caring who I flashed! LOL!!!! But if the car was ever available I nursed there – so much easier and I’d prop my arm up.

    I can’t relate too much to this because M was such an easy baby. Although I do remember feeling like I nursed him all day. Perhaps #2 will be more difficult? I’m sure you’ll be getting an earful on how it goes with two!

  7. Amy Marotz February 26, 2012 at 5:41 pm #

    With Alex I rarely (if EVER) BF’ed in public… just too stressful for me. I used a ‘hooter hider’ as well, but I was so worried about flashing someone. With Justin I embraced the world of official ‘nursing tops’…. LOVE them… they are designed to have a little extra fabric here and there, so you don’t have to haul the ‘hooter hider’ out and about (which I think is more conspicuous than just putting baby up to feed, folding over a little flap on your shirt and holding them until they’re done). Plus when they get older, they’re definitely more adept at a quick latch-on, much less guiding to do. Hang in there (and check out motherwear . com — really wish I would have invested in a top or two the first time around)…. or just pump and bring bottles with you(what I ended up doing for #1)

    • speedfamily February 26, 2012 at 6:08 pm #

      Thanks for the recommendation!!! I’ll check it out. That sounds great!

  8. Erica McCray February 28, 2012 at 8:02 pm #

    Wow! You nailed it word from word. I remember those days and when my daughter turned two we had another surprise our son who is away more of a handful and work then it was with just one. Now the shop is closed my kids are now 5 and 3 they both go to school my daughter goes everyday my son two times a week. And I still struggle to get showers. Iossed routine too and I missed it a lot. It’s nice to know I wasn’t the only one. At first my friends and the lidless people in my family just could not understand how it could be so hard. And they still do. My mother in law it seems has forgotten what it’s like to have little ones . When she watches them she always gives them late naps so that means I am up till midnight with them or she will plan every one of our family gatherings during the week late in the evening 6-9p.m at 7 my kids should be in bed.

  9. Jen March 3, 2012 at 4:46 am #

    I am not too modest about nursing. I pretty much do it anywhere I need to. I assume, that no one really cares here in VT…but I do it in MN, and anywhere else we may be too! I have a cover-up, and I do use it at times, but it is hard. I don’t think babies really like to be under the cover ups. I also like to wear nursing tops or a longer wrap style shirt that I can just throw over her head once she latches on. I really find a sling to be helpful for around the house. We like to eat dinner together, that is kind of the only time we talk sometimes (and mostly Amelia gets to talk and we listen). Anyway, for awhile, I would hold Annabelle in the sling so we could sit down to dinner all together. Now, she has moved into a highchair and she gets her dinner of rice cereal mixed with breast milk, which she devours, while the rest of us eat. It will get easier…I think at about one year, most moms (and dads) look a little better rested and just happier in general. You find ways to get what needs to get done, and over time, you adjust to your new life. Having a baby really is life changing! It will never be the same again, but fortunately, you would never want it to be the same either! And, I’ve got to say, it is so much easier the second time around…although the second one seems to grow up even faster!

  10. OH MY GOD… that last bit about nursing in public had me rolling! But seriously, this is so wonderfully full of great information for parents-to-be (Max and I are finally “NOT” trying to NOT get pregnant… so we’ll see), but I feel like I’m getting the real inside scoop here… Appreciate you taking the time to write these posts (despite your intense lack of time!)…

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