Saturday, March 14, 2009

The New Normal

After the previous couple of months with a sooner-than-expected newborn, I'm starting to work my way back to some sense of normalcy. Scratch that. What I am really doing is establishing/exploring a *new* normalcy!

So instead of going dancing every Friday night, I am evaluating when the next feeding should be, or whether one of us can make it for part of the dance, and if so, which part and which week. Or what the logistics are of us both getting to go. Or just when I'll be able to crawl into my pajamas...

Instead of taking every gig that comes my way and happily packing up my schedule, I'm having to carefully guess whether I will be able to pull off traveling/working on a given day/location. And how far and how soon? And what is Mr Sweetie's schedule like so that he can come with and/or baby-wrangle meanwhile?

Instead of responding to any misbehavior, wail, or request for snuggles from the cats, I hiss or coo at them from afar, batt my eyes at them with my lap full, trail a hand over the side of the chair so that they can catch a back stroke, or ignore their fighting and shenanigans outright.

Instead of taking long hours doing errands, reading scifi novels, or digging in the yard, I negotiate when MS can take the baby so I can run by the grocery store at midnight, wrestle with the carrier and/or sling, snatch a few pages during an extended feeding, and throw bulbs and plants into the ground in 15 minutes of desperation and inspiration.

Instead of taking the evening off to go out to dinner and/or watch a video, we are taking turns eating some semblance of dinner or lunch or that long-neglected breakfast, and talk about maybe seeing the movie we've had for months *this* week. Maybe this afternoon. Maybe next month.

Instead of sleeping in on our Saturday mornings, snuggling and talking, we pass each other in the hall as we trade feeding shifts, catching fleeting, half-awake hugs and kisses in the hallway, and asking each other: what day is it again?

Instead of taking hours to contemplate and write out and edit a blog post, I either type it out with one hand in dribbles of minutes over days, or I hack it out in a rush, for as long as I can stand it, before the next big poop comes along. So much for editing.

Instead of sacking out on the couch reading the paper or a good book, weighed down by a happily purring cat, I am enscounced in The Chair with The Baby for the umpteenth feeding of the day (they all blur together), and propping my eyelids open. Or better, spending hours gazing with adoration at the baby's perfect skin, her delicate fingers, seeking her fleeting expressions or contented noises, marveling over how her hair floats over her head and changes color depending on the light, wondering who she will be when she gets older, who she will resemble more once the baby fat subsides. And hardly bearing to tear myself away when I need to sleep.

So yes, this is the new normal.

I know things will smooth out soon or eventually, but for now, it's a whole new learning curve.

Today I took the baby to a workshop I wanted to go to by a visiting expert. In the past, I'd not only be there early, but I'd help my friend organize and promote it. I'd be thinking about what I wanted to get out of it, and target a few skills to acquire, explore, and practice. Yeah, sure!

Today, I worked on a few more skills.

How to shuttle a baby in a carrier, two bags and a water bottle through the rain. Several times. I made a make-shift rain barrier by throwing my large-brimmed hat onto the part of the baby not covered by the expandable roof. I adjusted the Panda Mirror so I could monitor her situation from the front seat. I practiced asking for help.

I explored putting the baby in the sling after entering the hall and after I returned to the car. Before, she's still half asleep. After, she's still content. Maximize the sling time if at all possible!

I practiced keeping her happy and not-too-noisy during the workshop. I covered her head and cooed at her. I jiggled, I paced, I apologized. I went out on the dripping porch in the rainy mess when her volume conflicted with the lecture. And felt part fool and part mother. This is what you have to do sometimes.

I experienced the awkwardness of arriving way, way late after not only gathering the last minute items but also wandering about the county in a sleep-deprived state, spending 45 minutes driving up and down *the wrong road* trying to find the place.

And then of feeling alltogether proud and shy and conspicuous because OMG! It's the baby! Who has barely been seen in public! And she's adorable! And she's making noise! It's like traveling with a celebrity. Who does not get the social conventions. You're thrilled to be seen in their company, but not sure if other people are so tolerant of their quirks. (Mostly, people were thrilled to catch a glimpse of her.)

I also experienced the panic of having a crying baby wanting her next meal as I frantically drove home, singing to her and kicking myself for not feeding her before we headed back into the rainy mess. I tapped into skills I never knew I had, and made up a song on the spot in an attempt to calm her. Next time, next time...

Next time, I'll do better, I swear. Next time, it'll be another challenge.

I'm setting myself goals and challenges. Take the baby to the grocery store. Oo! Live on the edge, huh? Go crazy; take the baby on a hike or to the thrift store! Put her in the sling. Juggle the chores with one hand. Visit out in public. Go to a dance. And does she like to dance?

Today I danced a little with the baby in the sling, sung along with the beat telling her: You remember this, you heard this for months!, and heard advice and reminiscences from the workshop leader about when she carried her own daughter to dances and gigs. Not bad. Doable. What's next? Another outing. Another downpour. Another experience. Another challenge in the new normal.

Now I gotta go. The baby's gotta eat. After that, I might catch a nap. The oatmeal and dish water has been cold for hours. I know, I know. It's my new normal. And when I get to gaze at that little fluffy baby head and snuggle my little girl's sleepy-squirmy body, it's the best.

1 comment:

Flying Saucer Jones said...

It's a crazy, hazy, maddening, gladdening, sleepy, happy tumult, isn't it? It only gets better. :)

When you go to the grocery store make sure she doesn't throw up all over the floor. And if she does makse sure you don't slip in it and come crashing down on your elbow because you had no way of protecting the baby and yourself at the same time -- the baby wins. True story. ;)