Sheri Lynch's Brand New Book
from chapter 9...
Babies are hard work. Like most first-time mommies, I didn’t understand how that could be until I had one. They’re cunning, these babies, the way they lull you into thinking that they’re harmless, immobile beings that spend most of the day sleeping. That’s a big old dirty lie. Sure, they sleep a lot – some of them. Some babies don’t, and a wakeful baby will put you through mental and physical maneuvers that the Marines would consider unduly harsh. A baby can be a brutal, time-sucking taskmaster. Talk about the toughest job you’ll ever love! Let’s take a look at a typical newborn/mommy day:
4:40 am. Please God, please do not let that be Baby crying. Pretend not to hear; maybe husband will handle it? Husband handles it by handing Baby over to you to be nursed. Husband tells you how wiped out he feels. Listen to him snore while feeling sorry for self. Drift off to sleep as Baby nurses.
7:15 am. Baby mewling; hungry again? Unable to open own eyes – have they been glued shut in the night? Cuddle Baby close and babble soothing nonsense like, “Let’s go back to sleep.” And, “Mommy will give you a thousand dollars if you please go back to sleep.” Baby’s much too clever to fall for it – a sign of budding genius? Drag yourself to your feet. Change diaper.
8:00 am. Install Baby, looking extremely precious in fuzzy yellow bunny pajamas, into battery-operated swing. Wonder briefly how the pioneers managed without it. Hunt through kitchen for tea bag. Fail to find one. Glance at Baby just in time to see arc of vomit shooting toward kitchen floor. Rush to swing, scoop up Baby, and call dog over to clean up mess. Stub toe on baseboard, curse, apologize, rush baby to changing table for clean-up.
8:20 am. Return to kitchen. Re-install Baby, now looking adorable in cheetah print leggings and matching cap, in swing. Stare blankly at dog, still licking the floor in front of the swing. Ponder the “dog’s mouth cleaner than a human’s” conundrum and calculate whether or not dog saliva is equal to Mr. Clean. Resolve to mop later. Eat piece of peanut butter toast standing up next to sink. Answer ringing phone with mouth full of peanut butter. Mumble incoherently at telemarketer and hang up. Why is Baby crying?
9:00 am. Baby is asleep! Time to shower, blow dry hair, throw clothes into washer, put away dishes, read newspaper, return phone calls, walk dog, and spend quality time with husband. Do none of those things. Instead, fall asleep on couch watching “Changing Rooms” on BBC America. Drool.
10:45 am. Wake with a start. Creep in to bedroom and spy on baby. Still sleeping! Race to bathroom and turn on shower. Lather hair, put head under spray; hear Baby scream. Frantically rinse out shampoo while scrubbing furiously at self with soap. Baby is howling. Run out of shower soaking wet and grab baby out of bassinet. Baby is immediately silent. Wade back into bathroom. See dog lapping water from floor. Good dog.
11:30 am. Nestle Baby, fed, content, and looking stylish in a cream-colored sleeping gown into carrier on floor. Dump clean laundry out of basket, sit down and begin folding. Show Baby a sock. Show Baby a t-shirt. Show Baby a hand towel. Put hand towel over your face, then yank it back while singing, “Peek a boo!” Gaze adoringly at Baby’s perfectly round head and silky hair. Stare at Baby. Baby is gorgeous.
12:00 pm. Attempt to wear Baby in sling. Step One: struggle to make sense of baffling instructions. Step Two: struggle to cinch sling over shoulder. Step Three: struggle to stuff uncomprehending Baby into sling. Step Four: Shuffle gingerly toward refrigerator. Try not to bump Baby’s head on door. Eat slice of cold pizza standing up next to the sink. Change diaper.
1:00 pm. Time for a walk. Ease Baby out of sling and back into carrier. Remind self that Baby is not yet capable of giving you a skeptical look. Find shoes. Call dog. Find leash. Find sunglasses. Find mobile phone in case of emergency while walking. Go to the bathroom. Snap carrier into stroller. Holding dog with one hand, attempt to push stroller. Fiddle with sunshade. Dog wants to run. Yell at dog. Yell at dog again. Return dog to house. Resume walk. Observe how sunlight illuminates milk and pizza grease smears on your shirt. Sigh. Point out landmarks to Baby: “Look! The Fed-Ex man!” Hope for neighbors to come out and admire Baby. Watch Baby’s eyelids flutter. Baby is asleep.
2:00 pm. Carefully ease sleeping baby into crib. Write five thank-you notes. Unload dishwasher. Return three phone calls, every one of which begins with a cheery, “How’s the new mom?” and ends with a solicitous, “Call me if you need anything!” Wonder darkly if “anything” includes popping by around 2 in the morning for a little diaper-and-burping time. Stand next to sink and guzzle glass of water. Stare blankly into space. Realize you have not yet brushed teeth.
4:00 pm. Baby awake and howling to eat. Change diaper. Settle into chair and nurse Baby. Read magazine while Baby nurses. Think: this isn’t so hard. I can do this. Feel contentment. Burp Baby. Bounce Baby on knee. Say, “Who’s a bouncy-wouncy bear? Who’s a teeny-tiny kitty?” See Baby spew a mighty fountain of barf. Feel the warm liquid sink into your pants. Does Baby feel much better now? Clutching Baby with one hand and barf-soaked lap in other, hobble into bedroom. Change pants. Change diaper. Change Baby’s outfit.
5:00 pm. Pretend not to hear husband exclaiming over quantity of laundry in basket. Let machine pick up ringing phone. Lie on couch. Prop Baby on lap. Study Baby. Baby, looking downright jaunty in striped teddy bear coverall, stares back. Baby is shockingly cute. Understand sappy love songs on radio for first time. You are my everything. The power of love. The wind beneath my wings. Baby got back. It all makes sense now.
6:00 pm. Pizza, take-out Chinese, or peanut butter? Change diaper.
7:00 pm. Who is haggard creature in mirror? Brush teeth for first time today.
7:05 pm. The family walk. Find shoes. Stand outside staring slack jawed at shrub while husband does everything else. Walk. See neighbors. Neighbors admire Baby. Baby, snug in blanket and cap, looks inscrutable. The daylight is fading. Didn't we just eat breakfast?
8:00 pm. Husband changes diaper. Husband puts cozy giraffe pajamas on Baby. Husband brings Baby to Mommy. Nurse Baby. Burp Baby. Rock Baby. Watch Baby slip into sleep. Tiptoe to crib and tuck Baby in. Night-night beautiful Baby. Tell Baby that mommy and daddy are right here. Check baby monitor. Check baby monitor again. Check crib rails. Make sure windows are locked.
9:15 pm. Collapse onto couch. Tell husband that yes, a movie sounds good. Watch for ten minutes; begin snoring.
11:45 pm. Husband looming over face. Baby wants mommy. Time to nurse. Baby is hungry. Marvel at how Baby can work up such an appetite. Burp Baby. Chug a bottle of spring water. Stroll back and forth from kitchen to living room, gently rubbing Baby’s back. Sing “Old MacDonald”, quietly making every animal noise. Change diaper.
1:00 am. Crawl into bed. Calculate maximum possible minutes of available sleep. Wonder if it’s medically possible for hair to hurt. Yours certainly does.
4:30 am. Please God; do not let that be Baby crying…
copyright 2004 Sheri Lynch