I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started this post. If I had known how hard it would be to get past that little hurdle, I would have abandoned the attempt and just started in the middle somewhere, in mid-sentence if necessary. Because if you’re going to forgive me for nearly six months’ worth of missing posts (and please, please do forgive me), you’re probably going to get past a missing beginning. Right? And here I am, writing a beginning.
I wish I could say that the past few months were so blissful that I simply forgot all about the world around me: What, blog? When there are fragrant little toesies to nibble on? But alas, no. I had rightly suspected that the first few months with a newborn and a toddler would be hard, but then a few other unforeseen factors pushed things way past “hard” and solidly into the red zone, namely:
-- a bad case of colic;
-- a death in the family; and
-- a tax audit.
But first, let me start at the beginning, in happier times. Let me finally introduce you to my little Melon.
Melon was born on March 27, 2009, via scheduled c-section in the same hospital where Banana made her debut. She was 7 lbs. 8 oz. (3400 grams) and 20.5 inches long, and a born sucker. She had sucked her hands so enthusiastically in utero that she was born with blisters on both wrists, and once out, made it her mission to do similar damage to my breasts. And wow did she ever. Even the midwives looked on in pity. She didn’t have much technique – her latch was part stapler, part lawnmower – but what she lacked in finesse she more than made up for in good old-fashioned brute force. For three days straight she was on me, and somehow my milk never had a choice but to come in well. In short: no supply issues this time around. (And don’t worry, I won’t talk about two freezers filled with my overflow – my experience with Banana gave me such an aversion to pumping that I have not done it at all.) There was the little matter of her persistently poor latch, though, which we eventually determined was due to a short frenulum (tongue tie). We had it clipped when she was five weeks old – a surprisingly low-key affair – and since then her latch has improved greatly, to my unending relief.
I had been very worried (and guilt-ridden) about how Banana was going to cope with another fruit in our midst, and was so gratified to find out that she was fine. She was a bit stand-offish while visiting me in the hospital, but that, I think, had more to do with the strange environment than with any sort of realization of what was going on. That realization came very slowly, and much later. When Banana got upset, it was more about my not being able to pick her up (that was the hardest part about having had a c-section, that moratorium on picking up Banana for six weeks) or not being available for playing when I was nursing. She never seemed to be upset at Melon, though, only at me. Melon got Banana’s nurturing side. Whenever Melon cried, Banana motioned frantically at me to pick her “Up!”
Pretty soon there were a lot of opportunities for motioning. So many, in fact, that soon Banana was equally frantically signaling to me to put the screaming baby down for once. As with her sucking, Melon proved incredibly tenacious as a screamer. For hours every day, she was inconsolable. Hours. Hours and hours and hours. Of screaming. Clenched-fist, contorted-face, legs-drawn-up screaming. It jangled my nerves, got under my skin, made me doubt everything I was doing – and eventually, after weeks and weeks without respite, made me feel more aggressive than I’ve ever felt in my life. Not that I ever did anything, God forbid, but sometimes I felt almost blacked-out with impotent rage. It wasn’t just the cumulative toll of all the infant misery combined with the sleeplessness, it was also frustration at not being able to be there properly for Banana, not having any opportunity to recharge, not ever having more than one hand free. Inexplicably, that last thing was almost the worst. I’ll do anything for you, I felt, anything you need to feel better, but please please please give me back the use of my body every once in a while. (Sling, you say? Baby carrier? Melon scoffed, nay screamed, at such ridiculous ideas.)
So. That sucked. It really, really, really sucked. And then, fairly suddenly, in her fourth month, an alien ship swooped down and replaced my screaming, sucking need machine with a happy, contented, downright fun little baby. Thanks, aliens!
With the arrival of Melon 2.0 came the departure of my mother-in-law. After hanging on much longer than any of us could have imagined two years ago, she succumbed to her advanced dementia at age 77. It was very sad, though there was a great sense of relief throughout the family too. M was fairly matter-of-fact – he had done most of his mourning in installments already – but it hit me harder than I had expected. Thinking about her last years, how frightening it must have been to gradually lose everything she had been and known and loved, and then to live in constant blackness, I felt so unutterably sad for her. And it brought up again how I miss my father, who died 13 years ago of heart failure at age 58, and how I wish my children could have known those two grandparents.
The other matter, the tax audit, was not terrible or anything, but pleasant it was not, and above all it ate a huge chunk of time and energy we did not have. I’m talking in the past tense here, but technically it is still ongoing, as we have not yet heard a final official verdict. And why would we, after more than two months? Anyway, I won’t bore you and agitate myself with the details, but suffice it to say that I don’t think I’ll be keen to do that again.
What I am most keen to do these days is sleep. I am so sleep-deprived, it’s almost funny. I sure hope that one day, when I can finally get some sleep again – maybe, oh, in 2013 – I’ll be able to retrieve some functioning brain cells from somewhere, because they sure aren’t accessible now. It’s almost painful, the fog I’m in these days and the sheer repetitiveness of the things I forget – damn, where did I put those keys I picked up just now? What did I come into this room for again? What was that one thing I absolutely needed to buy? Don’t tell me I forgot to turn the dryer on again! You get the idea. I hardly dare hope that last night meant anything – the night that Melon slept from 7 to 6:30 without waking up once. Unless she did wake up and I staggered over there and fed her and simply forgot about it, or unless she woke up and screamed for three hours straight and both M and I were simply too comatose to notice, but let’s just assume she slept. And let’s hope she does more of that soon.
I was going
to give you a full update on Banana now, and a description of Melon, but you
know what? I’m going to post this before the kids wake up from their naps, just
so you have something from me now.
I’ve missed you, and I thank you so much for hanging in there.