Three Weeks and Counting
Abigail is taking a nap. That means that I have a few minutes to actually write something - I've had a lot of minutes sitting and doing not much of anything while she's nursing, but I've discovered that I haven't yet mastered the art of typing and nursing at the same time - she keeps trying to swallow and breathe at the same time, which then means she begins turning an alarming shade of purple and I have to quickly sit her up and remind her that even though she hasn't been doing it all that long, breathing really has it's good points. This makes it difficult to balance a laptop on my lap and type at the same time.
I expect this will get better. Most people I know can get through dinner without choking every few minutes and needing a vigorous back-pounding to start breathing again. Can you imagine what a big gathering would be like if we didn't all learn how to swallow and breathe at different times? It would sound like an orchestra's percussion section.
For the past few weeks, every time Abby slept I spent time trying to get basic normal things done around here until she woke up and I needed to do the whole eat, change, walk a little, go back to sleep rounds again. I was pretty slow for the first few weeks and am really just now feeling like I can move at normal speed, though I must still be recovering because I'm usually completely wiped out and ready to go to bed at 9:00, a time when I'm normally still going strong. My brain knew that recovery after a new baby is usually about six weeks and it really takes more like three months for everything to have settled into a new routine, but knowing something in your head is a whole lot different than living it!
Things have been pretty busy around here even if Abigail weren't adding a new layer to the usual routine. Kim and Emma were in town for a bit and we celebrated Grandma's 90th birthday as well as having a "Meet the Baby" shower with the Turner side of the family. These were events that I could normally handle in my sleep, especially since Mom and Dad and Kim and Jenny did most of the work; but I think I found out a little what it must be like to be Grandma during those days because even just having people over was oddly tiring. I always wondered why older people seem so tired just from people visiting, but I guess in a weaker-than-average state, even just visiting really is tiring. I've been saying all along that when our wonderful work crew is available to start the addition, I'd really like to see it started no matter what was going on with the baby; but after last week's festivities I'm very grateful to our friends who said, "You do not want us working on the addition right after the baby's born. That's crazy. We'll aim for March instead."
Abigail herself has been as little trouble as a newborn can be. She sleeps pretty well most nights, takes good naps during the day, has taken to nursing like a champ (except for the breathe-and-swallow thing...), has not shown up with any unusual rashes, digestive issues, or any other potential concerns, and even spends a little while awake without fussing most days, which is pretty much perfect in my book. Of course, I'd like to see her awake without fussing ALL the time, but when you consider that babies as little as she is tend to wake up only when they need something, I figure a little time awake without crying is a good sign. I think she's also begun smiling the past two days, but she'll only do it when she's exactly in the right frame of mind and then only once each time: but she was wide awake and staring at me peacefully when she did it, so it wasn't one of those fleeting sleep-grins that newborns so often exhibit. She'll be four weeks old on Monday, so maybe next week we'll start seeing some more reliable smiles. I'm looking forward to that!
Ben has gotten comfortable holding and handling her and has been learning all about brand-new babies since he doesn't really remember Kim and Jenny at this age very well. She tends to be very awake in the morning and he likes to balance her on his chest and laugh as she holds her head up and stares around. He says she's adorable when she wrinkles her forehead up; the funny thing is that he's spent two years trying to get me to stop wrinkling my forehead when I'm thinking of something, which you would think would be a lost cause since I'm told I was born with that expression on my face. Just goes to show you what is adorable in a baby might not be as adorable as an adult - same goes for little pudgy fat rolls, no teeth, and hair that sticks up in all directions.
Grandma is doing well, though she gets concerned when Abigail cries and follows me around to see if I'm going to get her to stop and enquires anxiously if she should hold the baby instead. I'm not completely sure how to answer her because I do definitely want her to be able to spend a lot of time holding Abigail, but she gets very distressed whenever Abby cries and thinks someone must be doing something wrong and Abby is either in pain or very unhappy. There's also the factor that if Abby is crying for her mother, she will probably cry harder if her mother gives her away...and she's usually crying because she wants her mother to feed or change her. Even when her mother is in the middle of making dinner. As a side note, I have to say that the gift of a Baby Bjorn that we received last week has been a huge help because Abigail is much more content when she's getting dragged along with whatever I'm doing than when she's sitting in her bouncy chair watching.
Thankfully, Abigail doesn't disturb Grandma at all when she cries during the night because her cry is so soft and high that Grandma can't hear it with her hearing aids out. This is a definite relief for all of us and takes away a concern I had before Abigail's birth: that Grandma would be kept awake by the baby crying.
We've begun working on all the paperwork requirements that come with adding someone to our family. We have an appointment on Monday to get Abby checked over by a doctor so we can certify that she does indeed exist - in order to get her a social security number, we have to have two pieces of identification saying she exists and she really is our baby. One is a birth certificate, but the other is a little more difficult to come up with. It reminds me a lot of trying to get a driver's license when you're homeschooled. The system is just not set up to deal with anyone who strays a little outside the accepted norm; but I suppose that's how systems are!
Even with the resurgence in home births across the United States, everything is still geared toward hospital births and hospitals have a routine set of paperwork the government agencies are all comfortable and familiar with. The receptionist at the doctor's office scolded me a little by saying, "Well, we usually do newborn checkups two days after they come home from the hospital." Hm. Well, Eileen and Heather did the two day, one week, and two week checkups, so it didn't seem particularly important for us to take our brand-new baby out to a doctor's office in the middle of cold and flu season; and the only reason we're going now is because Abby's almost a month old and it's going to start getting trickier to get all our paperwork done if we let her get much older.
We've actually not taken Abby very many places at all: she's been to a funeral, the grocery store, and to my family's house. I'm starting to feel a little homebound, a feeling I don't think I've had too many times in my life. It's not that I have such a busy social calender, but I don't recall very many times in my life where I actually didn't leave the house for a week on end - we went to my family's house for my sisters' birthdays last Friday, so I've just been outside one time since. We aren't even going for walks. I'm beginning to look forward to warmer weather!
Ben has been going into the office again, but his wonderful schedule is that he leaves here sometime around 1 or 1:30 in the afternoon and comes home around 6:30. Tough to beat that.
I still am not totally used to the idea that we have a daughter. There's this strange sense that I've been "one of the kids" my whole life, and the concept that Ben and I are "Dad and Mom" the same way my parents were "Dad and Mom" is a little odd to adjust to. To me my parents have been parents for as long as I can remember, but I haven't been. Ben keeps looking at Abigail and saying, "Can you believe we have a daughter? I mean, she's part of you and part of me, but she's all ours and not anyone else's." It's completely normal until we stop to think about it...and then it's weird. Ben's other question is, "Was this what you imagined having your own baby to be like?"
Well, yes and no. As I said before, your head can know things, but it still feels a lot different when you're actually in a situation than when you weren't, no matter how much preparation you've had. Nursing, for example. I had really, really excellent training to nurse Abigail. Every time Mom had a new baby, she'd tell me the whole routine she used to get a newborn started (it takes a little time just to teach a baby to eat, oddly enough) and I spent way more hours than I can count sitting next to Mom while she nursed the babies. I knew what everything should look like, knew all the little noises babies make that are normal, knew the whole routine like the back of my hand. My mom was having other babies and teaching me about them from the time I was 2 until I was 22, and I wasn't even gone to school during the day. That was an incredible level of preparation that I'm only just beginning to grasp the true value of now.
But it was still new and different and unfamiliar to be the one on the spot, so to speak: the one who was responsible to teach this newborn how to nurse, the one who had to spend most of her time sitting and nursing because that's what you do with a new baby, the one who was responsible not to eat dairy because that usually makes the babies colicky (I can't tell for absolute certainty if Abby is lactose intolerant, but she does definitely show some tendencies and considering Ben and I were both probably lactose intolerant at her age...I've pretty much cut dairy out of my diet to give us all peace and calm!). The one in charge of poopy diapers and who gets the baby handed back when she's fussy. It's definitely different. Is it what I expected? Yes...with my head. But it's a bit disorienting yet.
Still...Abby is one month old, come Monday. It really does seem to take three months for things to all fall in place and be normal again - the new normal. So while we're not there yet, we're a third of the way through. If the next two months go as fast as this one did, it'll be no time at all before the last remaining vestiges of weirdness fade away and being Dad and Mom won't seem so odd and I'll know when I can and can't spend time writing blog posts and...we'll probably be in the middle of starting an addition and that'll be a whole new experience to learn!
Due to popular request
Due to popular request, we are updating the website with some new Abigail photos.
Wife of Benjamin and mother to two wonderful little girls who are getting bigger every day. Enjoys writing down thoughts and discussions we are having within the family and sharing them with whoever is interested in reading.
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