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Sunday, March 7, 2010

On depression, fear, and getting back to normal

Amelia's such an easygoing baby. We've had so few challenges and she's obviously growing and getting more alert and curious by the day. So few things to worry about.

We've been home for a week, and we're settling into a new routine. We go to bed later at night, around midnight or 1:00 am, after waiting on her last feeding, put her to bed and set an alarm for 4 hours later (in case she doesn't wake us up), sleep, wake up 3-5 hours later, Mark gets her out of bed and changes her, I nurse her and put her back to bed, set an alarm for 4 hours later, sleep, wake up (usually) 5 hours later, Mark gets her out of bed and changes her, I feed her while he showers, he takes her upstairs and plays with her while I shower/get dressed, and I come upstairs. This is usually around 1:00 or 2:00. I usually have to feed her again before I can get breakfast myself, but then she usually goes right to sleep again. Occasionally bouts of bad gas mess up the schedule, but it's pretty predictable, and we're getting better at burping her, so she's getting fewer of those. During the day, she's easy to wake up every 3 hours or so with a diaper change before a feeding.

She's most alert at night right before bed and in the morning before and after her second long sleep. She's a pro at stretching, and does that for a good 5 minutes during and after her morning diaper change. Then she gets fussy and tries to eat her hands and twists and squirms and gripes until I pick her up and talk to her: she knows I have the food. She'll take a long time to nurse in the morning, keeping her eyes wide open and taking little breaks to look around, sometimes focusing on close things and sometimes staring at the large blurry shapes in the distance.

She's obviously gaining weight. She's right on target for her input and output levels, and we'll discuss her strength in a later post--I just have to interject: holy shit, did you see that?

I've been able to bustle in the kitchen, and Mark is actually playing a video game with her sleeping on his lap while I write this post.

So things are going really well.

But, occasionally, like last night, I look around at how...unexpectedly easy a transition this has been for us, and I wonder if we're missing something. Are we really just lucky that we have an easy baby, (yeah, mostly) or were we really prepared and excited for her, (definitely) or--and this is the problem--are we really neglecting her? My worries say new parents aren't supposed to have time to do parents aren't supposed to have time for parents aren't supposed to be so calm...should I really be letting her sleep in her bassinet in the dining room while Mark and I make dinner?...should I really read my library book in the next room while she sleeps on Mark's lap in the office?

I can account for some of our free time--and this is the problem: the urge to account for it--with all that Noelle has been taking care of around the house, (and Aaron when he's not at school, and Chuck and Clara when they were here) but not all of it.

(ETA later: my worries conveniently ignore the fact that this post has been interrupted by baby tasks 3 times, and I'm currently typing one handed because a sleeping and potentially still hungry infant is in my left arm.)

I'm also recuperating well, but I'm still dealing with the hormone...flood (ok, really, it's more like a backed up toilet) that makes me feel exhilarated, possessive, exhausted, awed, terrified, and so many other extremes. I've heard and read so many attempts at describing the bonding process (really, more like a flood than a process--an actual flood this time, not a toilet) with your infant, but nothing ever described it accurately, or believably. Without the hormonal overload, it's hard to understand how these apparently jumbled and incoherent feelings can possibly happen to one person all at once--or how new parents deal with them.

Which is where depression comes in.

I never thought I'd say this, but I'm actually really glad Mark and I went through my depression. We've learned how to deal with extreme and conflicting emotional fluctuations constructively. So, when there are moments like last night (when Mark took her onesie off and her head bonked down on the changing pad from an inch up and I completely lost my shit and even after calling the nurse on call at our clinic who was old and said it was absolutely fine because she was on a changing pad on a carpeted floor and she didn't have any reaction to it at all other than to screech and fight at the clothes that were stuck on her face, I still cried for 20 minutes and all kinds of fears and stress came flooding out) we're better equipped to deal with it. When Mark thinks he hasn't been doing enough when he's been running up and down the stairs for everything and cooking and cleaning and changing 90% of the diapers and rubbing my back and getting her up at night while I stretch and get ready to nurse her and blogging and posting pictures and videos and putting her in her car seat and playing with her in delightful ways and generally being the very best possible husband and dad he can be even though he'd never taken care of a baby in his life before last Friday...we can deal with the crazy.

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