Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Advice From the Clueless Mom

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was not super excited about the idea of having children.  Friends and co-workers would talk to me about their kids, and I would immediately glaze over and start doing my grocery list in my head. Now I am a parent, and being a mom is the coolest thing ever. 

Of course I can say that now, 22 months after having my daughter.  At the beginning, not so much. 

I am an only child with limited exposure to children.  I never babysat.  I never worked in the church nursery.  Obviously I did not have siblings to corrupt.  And now here is this living, breathing, screaming, squirming creature who expects me to take care of her.  My husband was as clueless as I was, by the way.  The blind leading the blind.

I read all of the books, I received all of the online pregnancy and parenting newsletters.  I turned in my collection of smut novels and biographies of serial killers for copies of "What to Expect".  I talked to other parents.

And you know what?  NOTHING can prepare you for having a child.  Nothing. 

Example - I chose for personal reasons to bottle feed my daughter (BTW she is healthy and happy).  The books say that bottle fed babies sleep for 4 hours between feedings and breast fed babies for 2 hours.  Now that is more like it, I thought naively.  I can feed her once during the night, and my husband can do the same, and we will just go on our merry way getting 6 if hours of sleep easily.  Piece. Of. Cake.  Um, no.  Lucy woke up every two hours screaming for food.  No sooner was she tucked in, bottles washed, mom back in bed, and BOOM.  Hungry again.  The books also say that most babies  should eat "x ounces" of formula in order to properly grow.  That is CRAP too.  My child ate what she wanted and stopped when she had had enough, often taking much less than what she was 'supposed' to eat.  Babies are pretty good self regulators, I have to say.

My point is that there is no manual, guidebook, or advice for having a baby. You as parents have to find your own way, and let your child guide you. 

At Lucy's first birthday, I proudly declared that I was celebrating the fact that she was still alive after a year.  I was not kidding.  I can barely take care of myself most days. 

So if your child gets off  the feeding schedule or screams for no apparent reason, it will be okay.  I promise.  If I can do it, trust me, anyone can. 

I am still clueless, by the way.  But she's still alive and kicking at 22 months.

We're having a baby...yay?

I never had this strong desire to be a mom like all my other friends.  If it happened, great.  If not, life would go on.  My husband, on the other hand, desperately wanted a family.  He had a very Beaver Cleaver childhood (no one's parents ever got divorced, seriously), and he hoped to recreate that experience for his own children.  I was indifferent to the whole thing. But I thought, what the hell?  Let's give it a shot. 

After two years of trying to conceive - including, my personal favorite - taking drugs that make one a raving lunatic, I had had enough.  Back on the pill for me, I declared.  My husband asked me to give it one more month.  So I did.  And because I was so done with the whole situation, and didn't give a crap if I got pregnant or not, well you can guess what happened.  Yep.  A big plus sign on the test.  All 4 of them that I took. 

How did I feel, you ask?  Scared.  Terrified, actually.  I bolted out of the house, jumped in my car, and drove to my best friend's house at 9:30 on a Saturday night.  I must have looked a fright standing out there banging on the door and yelling "I know you're in there, I can hear you!"  I wasn't yet ready to deal with the actual father of the child.  Because that would make sense. 

I talked things out with my friend, and I have to say, I was still shellshocked several hours later.  So I went back home and called my doctor (yes, after hours, b/c it was an emergency to me!), who told me 1.  "the plus sign doesn't usually lie" and 2.  "no, all the beer you drank last week did not do damage to the baby".  Still not feeling the joy, here.  Waiting, waiting...

The following day, my husband (who by the way actually asked me 'what does the plus sign mean?') and I went for an ultrasound and some bloodwork.  Nothing more humbling than having your junk exposed and your insides displayed on a big ass monitor for the world to see.

And then it happened.  Thump, thump, thump.  Super fast.  Thump, thump, thump.  Is that what I think it is?  Why yes, it's a heartbeat.  OMG.  The image on the screen looked like a lima bean with a disco ball pulsating inside of it.  That was it.  I was in love.  It's a person.  In. My. Body.  And yes, I did make the ultrasound tech look all up in my insides to make sure there was not a second heartbeat.  I mean, let's not get carried away here.

Lucy Alexa Avitabile was born 8 months later.  She is now a 22 month old crazy toddler.  And her mom still thinks she hung the moon. 

More to come later on the adventures of my child, who I affectionately refer to as "the L bomb".