Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mommy Dearest

He used to be such a good sleeper. Brag-worthy four- and five-hour blocks of time were spent catching up on restful sleep, allowing us all to recharge and face our days, all smiles and productivity. But for the past few nights - hell, maybe a week or two? - I haven't gotten more than three hours of sleep at a time. In fact, the three hour chunk happened only a handful of times over the past week. More often, these days, Zephyr wakes up every two hours or less, wants to nurse, and is difficult to lay back down (even though he falls asleep while nursing). During the day, it lately takes an hour to get him down to sleep for thirty minutes. Scott badly wants to help, but alas, he lacks the breasts that allow Zephyr to succumb to deep, lengthy sleep (when I take time for myself, it's always at the expense of Zeph's nap schedule).

I feel like I'm completely losing my shit, and I'm shocked at how quickly I go from a creamy Madonna to a hanger-wielding harpy when my precious sleep is compromised. Sometimes I get so frazzled that it takes an hour or more for me to get back to sleep (and by the time this happens, Zephyr often starts fussing again). Then I crumble into frustrated tears and wonder what I was ever thinking, deciding to have a kid.

I should put things into perspective, though. He is still the sweetest, goofiest, smiliest and happiest little baby I've ever met. He grins so big that it splits his face in two. He is not a difficult baby at all, not by any stretch of the imagination. The little guy is teething, and is covered in eczema that he scratches until it bleeds. He is merely guilty of being a baby: mutable, unpredictable, inconstant. He evolves at an hourly rate.

What kind of monster loses her cool at a tiny baby, just because he won't sleep? This one, evidently. During those wee hours of sleeplessness, I worry that I will never be good enough for my precious little changeling. I spend so much time in that dark place in my heart that tells me that I can never be the mother that my son deserves. I have spent the better part of my life obsessing about being the polar opposite of my intolerant, dictator father (the dominant parent in my family), but I am terrified that, if pushed, I might still have his capacity for violence. The worst thing that can happen to Zephyr is for him to be raised by someone who hates children.

In case you have already dialed six of the seven digits to call Adult and Family Services, I should let you know that I don't beat my infant with a hanger, or shake him, or anything like that (I have yelled at him, though, I'll admit it). It's just that my own anger frightens me. It's so early in this ride - how awful will I be when, in a couple years, he starts throwing tantrums in the grocery store? Or when actually looks me in the eye and talks back?

In the meanwhile, I will learn to take deep breaths. I will take Zephyr's nap-free days as opportunities to play more and count my blessings that he is such a joyful creature. And I will hope fervently to gain the grace that only restful sleep can bring.

(Note: as I finished typing this, Zephyr just woke up from a 3.5-hour nap. Just to prove me wrong and make me look a harpy fool. Little bastard.)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Tooth and Nail

Take a good look - still no toofies in this mouth. Any day, now. Yep. Aaaaannnnnyyy daaaayyyy. Sigh. This poor kid. He's at the end of his wee rope. He's trying so hard to be a good baby, but you can just see the wimper on his face as he crams his fingers and anything near them into his mouth. Sometimes this results in a scratched face. Nail-clipping is a daily endeavor these days.

Even bath time is another opportunity to work those little gums of his. Now that he's bigger, we have opted to start daily baths - 5 minutes or so in just-above-tepid warm water, followed by a good rubdown with Weleda Calendula Baby Cream on the rough, eczema spots and Burt's Bees Buttermilk Baby Lotion everywhere else. I love the way that stuff smells. Our bathroom is in the middle of a remodel right now and gaps at the base of the wall expose the basement crawlspace, so we have to warm it up in there with a space heater and keep a vigilant watch for house centipedes.

(and another shot just because he's so damn cute)

Not too much new this week - he did get into his first little baby altercation. He and his friend Oshea were enjoying some time on the play mat, laying head to foot, and Oshea grabbed Zeph's toes with a little too much aplomb. Zephyr started crying sharply, and this set Oshea to crying. Claudia and I picked up our respective babies, and they took turns looking at each other and melting down. It was really cute and funny. Lesson learned: fun-wanting moms just best not fuck around with naptimes.

Have you ever seen a more dimply butt? I mean, without cringing in the mirror. I want to chew on his tiny butt cheeks. They're as soft as mochi, and almost as sweet.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Little Green

"If your knees aren't green by the end of the day, you ought to seriously re-examine your life."
-Bill Watterson

Zephyr had his first forays into the wilds last week, nettle-picking (as a passive participant) and moss-stepping (as a more active, if forced, participant). He thoroughly enjoyed himself, or the walk at least, and I was better for the exercise. The weather started to take a serious turn for the worse in the midst of our stroll, and certain a downpour was imminent (the wind and clouds were telling), I ran him and the stroller across the north lawn at Reed College toward leeward trees and their relative shelter (relative to a field, anyways). His Graco Metrolite is not intended for off-road use, though, and I'll probably need to tone down these adventures or get a new stroller (in which case I will tone these adventures way up).

Yep, things are really starting to get exciting with (and for) Zephyr. Every day he's a mite smarter, a little abler, and just a bit more cognizant of his world. His hands are more articulate, and he now derives great pleasure (and maybe some pride?) from turning the pages of his board books when we read to him. His bedtime story is becoming so rote that he even waits for the pauses in our lilt before reaching his chubby digits toward the stiff page edge.

In our attempts to get him to sleep more than two hours, we gave him his first rice cereal last week. At first we just put it in a bottle of warm breast milk to make a thin slurry (cut a hole in the nipple to promote flow), but once the novel first few tastes were swallowed, he just let the last two ounces dribble out of his mouth and gave us a funny look. He ended up waking up after two hours anyways, so the next day we tried just giving a few spoonfuls of a rice cereal-breast milk mush. This didn't work either, but the rice cereal does effect a powerful change in the texture and odor of his shit. Needless to say, we've backed off the solids for the time being.

Could he look more like his father? I think not.

Now that Zephyr has been hanging out in his exersaucer, his legs are getting a lot of practice supporting his weight. He stands with help for several seconds at a time, and delights in his new skill. I think he feels powerful and strong on his little legs. Tummy time is still not totally his favorite, but the new play mat that I picked up at Ikea is turning him around on floor play. I just regret not having gotten Zephyr onto a comfortable floor setup earlier. Though, I will admit that there is a strong temptation to just leave him there while I tend to matters around the house.

Finally, I wanted to share this triptych of Scott, Zephyr and myself, all at 4 months of age. It's really remarkable how much he looks like the both of us instead of just one of us. He has my mouth, I think, and he totally has Scott's chin. His eyes look like both of ours. I think he's cuter than either of us, and greater than the sum of his parts. Zephyr is our awesome son and he is synergy.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Zombie Baby

I went back to work yesterday. It's not the same as before, I just have a few projects that I will work on, and primarily from home, but I did spend five hours in the office yesterday. It felt pretty good to put on a button-up shirt and pay too much for parking, to be on the phone and to crunch numbers. I felt like Career Mom Barbie, pumping breast milk in my old office. If anyone other than Scott had been home with Zephyr, I never would've made it those five hours. It'll be interesting to see how long I can keep it up, though. Next week I think I might take Zephyr out to a field visit with me. We won't have to get out of the car.

Zephyr's latest trick is this thing where he acts like a baby zombie. It only happens when Scott is holding him (and he's hungry). He will violently lurch forward toward Scott's chest, mouth agape, and just gum at him like a hungry baby zombie. It's really hilarious.

And the last update (they are few this week), we have found that Zephyr loves being in an exersaucer. It's nice to be able to have him in the kitchen while I work, without him getting bored in a matter of minutes. He even seems to be aware of cause and effect, mashing buttons that name animals and mimic their sounds. It's so wonderful to see his little gears turning.

Sorry for the brevity - weekly updates are only as thrilling as the milestones themselves. Not that it's not a total rollercoaster...