Monday, July 20, 2015

The Dichotomies of Parenting

Parenting so far has been an adventure in ups and downs.

Strength and Weakness of Body

My daughter's birth went well. I was healthy throughout pregnancy and she was born with no complications. I'm still amazed at the fact that after she was born - after birthing a freaking child - they gave me ibuprofen, and it was enough to manage the pain. My body makes food for my daughter while I'm busy doing things like taking pictures or cleaning poop off the floor. I was able to function week after week without REM sleep.

That said, the first week was a trip. I don't deal well with lack of sleep, even now that I have a three-month-old. In the first week, I got so dizzy from lack of sleep and weird hours that I nearly fell over several times. It was enough to make me feel nervous about carrying her from room to room; thankfully, Spousal Unit was home during that time as well. I also got a painful infection, and later that month, I was sick enough that I had to get two liters of IV fluid just to keep from being admitted to the hospital. Once I was finally cleared to hold my daughter again (10 hours later felt like forever), I had to do it while wearing gloves and a mask. But my setbacks don't seem to have bothered her much. She's grown steadily; I marvel at her ability to do what seems like little things, like holding a toy and taking note that the stuff on the other side of the window isn't like the stuff inside the house.

Joy and Sorrow at Gaining

I was in the unique position (though probably not as unique as I think) of having to decide, quite actively, whether or not I wanted a child. (Let's not even start on the idea of more than one.) I was torn. Decision made, this naturally leaves me wondering a bit at what life would have been like had I chosen differently. Everything about this new life seems so strange at times; just the phrases "I'm a mother" and "I have a daughter" still have a foreign ring to them. (Luckily, there's Zoloft for that; see "weakness of body" above.)

But I do come back to joy again, especially when every time she wakes up, I get a huge smile and legs that kick in excitement. I remember that she will grow, is growing, and (especially after getting a few hours to remember that I am more than just a parent) I just want to spend all evening holding her and hearing her babble.

I Am a Bad/Good Scientist

I am often mistrustful of my scientific instruments. Last week, I attempted to measure my daughter's length for her three-month records, but ended up not writing it down because some part of me does not believe that she really reaches the number 23 on the yellow tape measure. The numbers are all there in stark black contrast, yet I suddenly disbelieved the tape measure. Perhaps I thought it had skipped a number, or the number order changed in the night. Despite the data, I also sometimes jump to the conclusion that if a mosquito bites her, she is definitely going to get malaria. (She's not.)

Similarly, I have a hard time believing that these two pictures are of the same baby.

Two weeks old

Eleven weeks old

Sometimes I even have a hard time looking at her and remembering that she started out so small - that I grew her. That my romaine lettuce salad turned into a heart, and a can of pineapple involuntarily consumed in one sitting became neurons and synapses firing that would eventually yield a smile.

But I am also reconsidering all the things I once took for granted - rerunning old experiments to be sure I haven't missed anything. Apparently a sweater hanging on a chair is fascinating! Who knew that the cat was such a marvel? Consider the sunlight on wood floor, and the way it contrasts with shadow. I'm documenting everything for future review.

And I find myself running the "boop your nose" experiment over and over again, just to hear her laugh.
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