Furrows in time
It will be a month tomorrow. A month since I expelled the slimy purple grape alien that has since become the mostly-pink and somewhat-squishy blue-eyed humanoid dough ball.
Don’t read that wrong – I love the dough ball. Like mould he grows on me.
It’s been interesting (?) experiencing this type of love and to be honest I still struggle to express it articulately. Pre-child-me would have slightly snorted at the concept of a boundless love, unfettered by morality or legality, but current me senses that, beneath this hazy shroud of hormonally-charged infatuation is a hard and certain knowledge that anything necessary will be done. Graft. Theft. Murder.
It’s been a bit like how I imagine a prison sentence. The days both pass slowly and leak into one another, with images from one bleeding across those that follow. Did I go for a walk today or yesterday? Has it really been three days since I last bathed? (In my defence, it may only have been two, it’s hard to keep track. It’s also hard to have a bath with a tiny infant in tow).
I had thought that the hardest part would be waking up during the night. Indeed I was almost convinced I wouldn’t as I used to sleep like the dead. New me, however, dozes fitfully and is always wide-awake at the first mewling call. New me needs earplugs. Even so, getting up multiple times a night (admittedly usually only twice as my partner does a feed as well) is not the worst part... indeed it doesn't even really impede my day-to-day functionality.
Which makes the actual difficulty, the constant sense of non-achievement, of time slipping by without point or purpose, all the more challenging. I keep making resolutions – today I will: write a blog post or paint a skull or draw or actually fill in the five-year diary I bought for him. And each day the sum of my achievements looks more like: had breakfast, put on pants, drank a lot of water, left house briefly, fed baby many times.
Sometimes I don’t even manage to put on pants or leave the house but at least I am yet to do the latter without the former.
Being among the first of my friends to embark down this mad path of procreation, I’ve had a lot of people ask what it’s like, having a baby. I don’t really feel qualified to give a response since a lot of the time it is with faint shock that I remember I have a child (it’s not that I forget about him but the knowledge is anew a charged thrum of surprise). It is monotonous. Deeply so. And within that tiny box of mundane repetition, it is enthralling. Hours can be spent staring at his face and marvelling at the tiny replicas that he would call hands if he were properly verbal and not just prone to occasionally squalls.
He is a horrific time suck.
My to-do list grows longer each day (mentally, I haven’t actually got round to writing it down). One thing that will be on it if I write it before I do it is joining a parents (read mothers) group. This is not something I was initially inclined towards (encouraged in my anti-socialism by my mother who was similarly dismissive) but a couple of people I respect suggested that it might be a good idea. Variously for support or feelings of superiority.
As a stopgap measure until joining the ‘real’ group, I joined an online facebook mothers group that I figured would pretty much be the same thing (only with fewer small babies crying in the vicinity.)
Highlights from this forum to date have included a myriad of humblebragging new mothers competing about the weight of their baby (bigger is better), the length of said baby (longer is better), the length of their labour (longer is also better here, curiously) and their own state during that labour (drug free obviously because pharmaceuticals are the devil but ideally Zen, in child-pose).
None of which should really have been a surprise since popular conception would characterise mothers’ groups as snake pits of competition but, well, it was a surprise that the cliché would hold true… and that anyone would actually bother to seek status through the size of dough ball so expelled.
A lowlight would be when, on a post from a parent asking about safe co-sleeping options (which everyone says you can’t do and everyone secretly does anyway), I shared some of the details of our arrangement, only to be told sharply by another poster that doing so was guaranteed to cause SIDS. This, while ridiculous (the name Sudden Infant Death Syndrome being homage to its unknown origins), prompted both major tears, googling (mostly by my partner once I’d explained what SIDS was) and late night soul searching about alternative sleeping arrangements that could be immediately implemented.
When not having minor meltdowns about women whose opinions I definitely don’t value (being a snob who definitely judged aforementioned woman off her public facebook offerings), we have also taken little one-month L on road trips interstate which he has largely enjoyed, partially screamed through and once thrown up on himself during. Though that last was kind of my fault since I had the genius idea that I could use a bottle to soothe him when he got upset while in motion which worked super well till we belatedly realised you can’t burp an infant while driving and an un-burped infant is a time bomb of partially-processed milk (still, probably the least offensive vomit if one must interact with such). Learnings.
I also learnt (from the bemused proprietors of the local dumpling house) that babies and mothers in China do not go outside in the first month. This period is apparently known as the confinement. Were this the case here, my confinement would be ending tomorrow and my mind would already be completely gone.
Thank god for leaving the house. Pantless or otherwise.