Monday, March 14, 2005

701 days!

The Boy is 701 days old. He is 1 year, 11 months, and 1 day old - that's got to be of some Kabbalistic significance, right? Anyone have Madonna's number so I can check on it?

Before you have a baby you have all these ideas in your head of how your life is going to change. Well, I did, anyway. I thought about the sleepless nights, the diapers, that special bond we would share, the diapers, the cute little outfits he would wear, the diapers, etc.... Do you see a trend? You see, I can count on one hand the number of diapers I changed before I had my son. Now, of course, I'd need one of those super-computers at MIT to compute how many dirty diapers have passed through my hands. It's funny, though, how little that phases me anymore. I used to think that would be one of the worst things about having a baby (other parents, please insert your hearty laughter here!).

As soon as he was born, however, all of my previous worries about having a baby flew out the window. I no longer fantasized about cute little outfits. I was suddenly a Parent (note the capital P). I had in my possession a squawling newborn who was intent on making his presence known to the world -or at least to the entire maternity ward. All of the pain of labor vanished. No really, I'm not kidding, it vanished. When the doctor handed me my son everything I had ever done or experienced up until that point in my life just vanished. It was like I had suddenly developed tunnel-vision and the whole world had become a blurry background for this one small human being.

It seems like I've been trying to redefine my world vision ever since. The Boy remains at the center of my universe. The fuzzy edges of the universe, however, are beginning to coalesce into vague shapes. Right after my son was born I became severely depressed. I didn't know what I was doing. I kept looking for advice on the "right" way to parent. I read books, I asked friends, I scoured the internet looking for information that would unlock the secret of "good parenting." Up until this point I had been a reasonably well-adjusted adult. I had a wonderful husband, a college degree, a good job, and a nice house in the suburbs. (Of course, so does every other psychopath you read about in the papers!) Why couldn't I figure out how to soothe an 8 lb. baby? Why was I having such a horrible time breastfeeding? Why wouldn't he go to sleep when I put him down? Why did I feel such anxiety and loathing whenever my son started crying?

What I finally figured out - and this took far too many tear-filled nights and painkillers for me to piece together - was that there wasn't anything to figure out. There was no answer to why my son didn't want to sleep on a schedule or why he cried at certain times. He was a baby and babies don't follow anyone else's rules - not even Dr. Spock! I know, I know, this isn't exactly rocket-science. Even though I had read about these things happening to other parents, it just wasn't real to me until I had experienced it myself. There is a certain level of ambiguity and tension that parents have to learn to deal with on a daily basis and nothing can prepare you for it - at least nothing could have prepared me for it! I will never have a definitive answer as to why my newborn son could be soothed by the sound of the computer humming, but NOTHING ELSE could soothe him. I will never know if he would have been free of jaundice had we been able to stay in the hospital one more day. I will never know if he meant to smile and grab my hand that first day or if it was just an involuntary reaction. You know what? I don't care. I had to let go. I've finally become ok with the uncertainty of parenthood (well, for the most part) and the blurry edges around my universe.


Blogger Hannah Gerber said...

I love every word of this. Your fabulous!

4:24 PM  

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