Today marks Emilia’s seventh day home from the hospital. I’ve learned a lot over the past week: about myself, about parenting, and about Lauren. You like to think as you reach your thirties that you have most of the world figured out. You walk with a sense of confidence, of purpose, that comes from having survived such horrors as high school, college, temp jobs, heartbreak, and all the other notches that mark up the belts of our lives. Then someone pops into your life that can play your emotions like no other, the good and the bad, without remorse or even awareness they are doing so (yet!); all while at the same time proving you know very little.
I was a non-believer. I would scoff at the stories: how life “changes” after you have a child. When someone would tell me I would “see the world through a different light” I would smile, nod, then move on confident in my ignorance. Well, they were right. Only, the “different light” is some sort of sleep-deprived diaper-changing constant-fear-your-child-is-on-the-brink-of-death hell.
When last I wrote things were going well, then along came lady luck to keep me company. In this analogy lady luck is strep throat, and by keeping me company I mean clobbering me with a baseball bat and instilling a deep fear I’m going to cause the death of my child. I don’t know where the sickness came from; the best I can offer is that perhaps my lack of sleep let the bacteria that has been lurking in my throat throughout my life (I had strep throat almost yearly up until my early twenties) take control. I resisted for a few days and stocked up on cold medication, delving deep into the google-doctor late at night for possible ailments. Today I realized I wasn’t making any progress and a quick trip to the clinic and the doctor’s diagnosis and subsequent prescription for antibiotics showed me why.
Although I was still functional over the past few days every task took on a new element of fear. We purchased some hand sanitizer I use before touching Emilia or her things and I had to give up any little baby kisses for now. Thankfully Lauren has never caught my strep throat over the past seven years which leads me to think she’s immune; if that immunity passes on to Emilia we should be in the clear. As a preemie Emilia is much more susceptible to complications from getting sick and she could easily land back in the NICU. I’ve been monitoring Emilia closely, watching for any temperature changes or a stuffy nose, but so far she seems oblivious to my concerns.
On the other side of the equation is Lauren. Unfortunately, as the Bearer of the Milk, she has been getting even less sleep than I am. If you know Lauren, you know sleep is to her what water is to a man in a desert. She needs it, and she will fight to get it. Although I take a shift to bottle once every night Lauren chooses to do the other feedings via her breasts. Even were she to forgo more feedings to the bottle and I she would still need to pump to maintain the milk supply. Couple that with Emilia’s razor sharp beast-gums, which inflict unspeakable horrors during the first sixty seconds of every latch onto the boob, and you have one tired and frustrated mommy.
Emilia herself has taken to playing some fun games to keep the good times rolling. Oh, time for a diaper change? Watch as I flail about, all the while screaming for you to finish faster and bring me to feast. What’s that, you think I should wear clothes? Sounds like a good time to show you my impression of a turtle. You think I’m done eating just because I’ve laid here staring at you for fifteen minutes? Try again!
Of course, she does all this with an incredibly cute face so it’s hard to get upset but she definitely has a career in psychological torture if she so chooses (I’m not sure where those jobs are actually; perhaps as the director of programming for Grey’s Anatomy?).
My cousin came to visit us recently with her nine-week-old in tow. It was interesting seeing the contrast between him and Emilia. Even though the two are only about two weeks apart birth-wise he dwarfs her in every respect. This also explains why all of the children’s clothing we’ve been gifted over the past month seem so huge; that’s just the size of a normal child. For awhile I thought there was a secret race of baby-giants no one told me about (I’m actually kind of sad that there aren’t baby-giants now).
Outside of Emilia our world continues to move along. Our basement is now framed and next week my father-in-law will be here to help with the electrical/plumbing. Lots of time to get things done before we need to start thinking about a nanny or daycare.
As always, thanks for reading.