Sunday, March 27, 2016

Short-term Memory Loss Theory

Maybe it's been proven already, I could probably do some googling but I think we are biologically wired to forget a lot of that first year. Perhaps its due to lack of sleep, but when I'm around new parents and they mutter about how their baby does such and such annoying thing I hear a mental ping go off in my head, like 'Ohhh yah! How could I forget that baby thing?'

What is the most terrifying about short-term memory loss is when someone hands you a new-ish baby and it feels so unnatural to hold it. Didn't I spend like 24 hours a day for three months holding a newborn, but wait, how do you hold something that can't support it's head? Should I sit down so I can position your head better? Ohhh-kay I'm done, here you go baby back to your expert parents. Annnd I just brushed my breast your daddy's arm in the transfer, whoops! Promise I wasn't trying to make a move.

Also when can babies just eat whatever they can reach again? Was out for a beer and had some crackers on the table for my almost two year old, the 8 month old reached for the same crackers and without thinking I was like 'Yah that's nice, Theo, share." The mom was like "uhhh no, he can't eat those yet." Oh my god, how did I forget that babies can't just eat everything? It has not even been two years since Theo was born. I remember some fancy soccer footwork or how to throw a backhand disc better than I remember how to take care of a baby and I haven't done those things in 5+ years.

For me, it's probably the only way I'll actually get the blind courage to do it all again, thinking yep I know what I'm getting into, but no actually I need to re-learn everything. I still have diapers down and know to keep kids away from moving cars, so I have 2 things down of the 1,000 that you need to remember to raise a newborn infant.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Eye-rolling at "Are you going to have a second?"

I know, I know every milestone in life is exciting for everyone to know about, hear about, they're curious if you're doing things the way they would or did. I remember my senior year, I got really tired of everyone asking where I was going to go to college, then as an undecided major, I got really tired of explaining that I didn't have a major yet, then after college when Phil and I had been together for 6 years, we got asked about marriage all. the. time. Fast-forward and this experience of having an almost 2 year-old feels more emotionally charged than the other milestone questions.

Like so many other parents who have just past the 1st birthday of their first child, the interest in whether or not we're having a second is a common question when we're out in the world. I believe I counted 6 times in a half an hour when we went to a recent birthday party with acquaintances we hadn't seen in a while. I don't get offended by the question, I understand the curiosity because myself included is curious when and if this will happen for us. That being said, still every time the question is asked it takes my breath away and I stumble through an answer. 

I especially get nervous as someone who doesn't like lying to anyone even by omission so what if the true answer is we're trying but we haven't had an positive pregnancy tests yet, because what am I supposed to say? We're trying? Or we are pregnant but aren't sharing? What if it's that I finally feel like I got my pre-pregnancy body back and I'm too vain to create another human for at least six months while I enjoy wearing normal clothes? What if it's that our marriage is really struggling given all the pressure that parenting and working and planning for the future creates on a couple? What if we can't have any more? Or that we're in financial ruin? The truth is you don't ever really know and you could be twisting a knife in a wound when you ask that question.

Also, given the possible answers, then where does the conversation go with 60 year old man I just met? "Well we've been having lots of unprotected sex lately, but nothing." And c'mon, I went to the party partially in fact to get my own mind off the topic since it's started to consume me. Honestly, maybe not the best answer, but one that feels the most comfortable is comedy and deflection. "Ha, no I never want to do that again." Or "As soon as he starts pulling his weight around the house, I'll consider it." Vague. Mildly Funny, but hopefully sends a message to somewhat in tune social people that I'm not super interested in small-talking my uterus plans. Or there's option C, perhaps my favorite, inserting some political advocacy in there "As soon as there is a national maternity leave policy in place that I can live with I'll have another" or "We're waiting to see if a democrat is elected before we start trying because we're really concerned about climate change. Do you have one minute for the environment?" 
So now I'll contradict myself to you completely and discuss the dilemma with you all since you may face the similar decision. Why is this decision so much harder than the first one? Because we hold the knowledge on how much our lives changed with our wonderful, cuddly bubbly life-ruiner son. The first decision was so exciting, thrilling, like jumping on a roller coaster for the first time. Let's do this, adrenaline rush with not really sure what all is entailed in the ride. 

Now, it's hard to imagine that the curtain isn't going to come down just as hard as it did the first time, even though we arranged our house to be a monkey-baby gym and we're now used to staying home every night of the week (Netflix, am i right?). I'm also totally used to my breasts being out all hours of the day and spending countless hours of my life trying to get a little human to just sleep. I went to a hair stylist who said it best,

 "It's hard to imagine giving so much of yourself to another human again, or in addition to the other one you've already created." 

When I think about how much I love theo, the idea of duplicating that love is overwhelming. I really didn't anticipate fears like this for the second - it seems like if you've been through it before, you know what you're getting into, but I think for both Phil and I there's a feeling of we really lucked out with this one. He has seen kids as a teacher that are really challenging and trying to meet their needs as parents is something I imagine to be more exhausting than bringing home a newborn. 

I believe in us as a team as parents as corny as that sounds. I love how dedicated Phil is to creating environments where Theo can learn and play and explore together. He doesn't mind throwing a ball 100 times back and forth or reading the same book 4 times in a row. I think I bring a different set of skills to parenting where Theo comes to me for comfort, nutrition, curiosity about the world including people and nature. We share a deep love for all animals. 
Theo's daycare recently posted this picture to the day care app so if he could do that all day with a new baby, I'd be set, decision made since this photo pulls at my heart so very deeply. 

He would make a wonderful big brother and I've imagined my life having kidS and have fantasies of driving around teenagers who can't stand me, singing along to music that's relevant to them, driving them absolutely crazy. I don't want the fear of the first year of their life (though it's insanely hard) to make me miss out on that. I want that basement full of angsty teens learning to play bass or drums like I had growing up. I want to watch siblings love, learn and hold a forever bond. The best gift my parents gave me are the three other people in the world that I'm forever connected with and share the same ridiculous stories from childhood. They're people that even if our personalities are different and might not otherwise ever be friends, we are there for one another no matter what.

Regarding that fear of the first year, I know that parenting for me so far from baby-toddler has mostly required a plethora of patience. Sometimes I think of my patience meter like a video game where you can see how much life you have left. You all know what can help you build up your patience meter, breaks, self-care, special moments with your family, exercise, good food, etc. When I've put Theo down for the night for the 4th time my patience meter is blinking in the danger zone. Sometimes I need a visual of my patience meter, take deep breaths, similar to what one needs to break through the exhaustion of running a race.  For now, I guess I'll tuck this knowledge in my back pocket should we need it again in the future. 

In summary, I guess what I'm trying to say is, if people ask you when you are going to have a second baby, the opportunities are endless for how you respond. It's nice people care about you and your life, maybe that's important to remember, but there's nothing from stopping you about asking them when they're going to have their next colonoscopy or gynecological exam since what they're asking is about your internal parts as well.