I’ve started this post, I dunno, a bunch of times in my head (look at me dialing down the hyperbole. YOU’RE WELCOME, Tony). But something about having an infant keeps me from sitting down and writing. How do all those bloggers do it? Oh, right, they’re paid to. Just like celebrities are paid to be gorgeous and lose the baby weight in two months or less.
I’d like to show this photo to teenagers: you see that ass? I used to be a size six. Teen pregnancy is a BAD idea, you will never get your cute butt back. Also, for the record, Tony bought those shorts himself.
Speaking of, I am still pretty fat, and I seem to remember that I couldn’t fit into my rings until about 5 weeks postpartum with Charles, and normal jeans a week or so after that. But the thing is this: it still sucks, even knowing that I have 2 or 3 more weeks before my pelvis contracts enough to button real pants. You see, the knowing only helps a little bit. Add to it that I have a wedding to attend on August 20th and literally NOTHING to wear, and I am pretty bummed. Who has time to go shopping with a newborn? Or a newborn with toddler? Who knows how to dress flabby arms and giant thighs and a flabby belly in August?
James gets an abundance of kisses from Charles.
The toddler. Oh, God, what were we thinking? Charles is so wild and so rambunctious and he loves Jamie, but he is so, so difficult right now. As easy as he was to potty train, ever since the last few (really tough) weeks of my pregnancy, he has regressed big time (thankfully, he still manages to poop exclusively in the toilet – except for that one time that he was sick, which happened to be at a friend’s house and about which I am still totally embarrassed, and I wasn’t even there) and I am loathe to admit this, because he is only two, but I am completely disappointed in him and me. Every time I pick him up from preschool and he has had potty accidents, I almost cry. I have moved beyond bribery and encouragement to threats. After a full week of multiple wet accidents at preschool, I told him that he would have to go back to the toddler room, that he wasn’t a big boy anymore if he couldn’t use the toilet. I think this motivated the preschool teachers more than anything, and they now take him to the bathroom more frequently and stand and watch him go, instead of just sending him in (where he presumably played with water in the sink or something). On the days he has potty accidents, he doesn’t get to ride his bike.
You see, the thing is that he knows. He knows when he has to go and he used to tell us. Now he doesn’t tell us and just goes in his pants, I don’t know, for fun? Attention? Whatever, the threats seem to be working. And, of course, we give him lots and lots and lots of positive feedback when he succeeds.
My feelings of guilt, however, abound. Did I push him to potty train too soon? Is he feeling neglected? Now I have to pack extra clothes in the diaper bag, oh why can’t anything be simple or easy with this child?
I’m not getting much sleep. Charles is the cause of some of that, though we have reintroduced white noise into his bedtime routine, merely because it’s so hot in the summer that we need fans, and that seems to help a bit – certainly it was better last night that the previous few nights when he cried and got out of bed and asked for more stories and drinks of water and potty breaks (he is totally potty trained at bedtime because he knows I will let him out of bed to go) and then cried more until about 10:30 pm. Not that he didn’t scream for a full 45 minutes after he woke up this morning. When he flies into a rage like that, I don’t even know what’s wrong. I offer him a bite of my cereal, he says no, I eat the bite, he freaks the hell out. Honest-to-goodness, he will try to pull the cereal out of my mouth, all the while screaming “Mine! Mine!” then throw himself on the floor in a fit of rage. He would fling the bowl of cereal on the floor, but I know that attempt is coming, so I move the cereal. I had a headache before 8 am today, and it’s still not gone.
And that’s because the sleep deprivation associated with a newborn’s sleep schedule is brutal, magnifying any headache or backache times ten. I don’t know if I told you, but I spent both nights in the hospital by myself because Tony was with Charles, meaning I did all diaper changes and swaddles and, of course, feedings, which are fast and frequent during the first few days. Then, the night before my milk came in, I nursed and nursed and nursed until Jamie finally crashed around 4 am. I really hit the ground running with the lack of sleep thing. I even made a martyr-like deal with Tony to take care of all Jamie’s needs during the night on work nights so Tony could sleep – you see, Tony seems to be much more sensitive to sleep deprivation than I am and than he ever was before. Hard to believe, since he used to routinely stay up late and then get up at an unGodly hour to fish, but it’s true: he’s cranky and misses things (like taking a diaper bag or feeding Charles) when he is tired.
Tony is a great father. And while Jamie’s hair is dark, they look so much alike!
So, anyway, the martyr thing lasted about two weeks until Jamie had a terrible night and I ended up grabbing what little sleep I could on the recliner. When Tony woke up, my resentment of him had grown to such a degree that I lambasted him for every little thing that had sucked over the past few months: terrible mother’s day, disappointing birthday, not telling me he loves me often enough or reassuring me that he thinks I’m beautiful even though I know he is repulsed by my giant ass and backfat and the stretch marks (didn’t get them with Charles, but the extra two weeks of gestating James really did a number on my under-belly). And gifts. I need gifts. But Tony’s not a giver, he is a receiver, and he received my gift of letting him sleep without even questioning it or telling me that it was unnecessary or offering to let me get an hour or two on the night when our child was super cranky. And so, seething resentment and tears. Now, the deal is off and Tony changes diapers before I feed James every two hours (at most – often it is every hour) at night. A shared burden makes me less stabby. Although, he’s now going to work before 7:30 every morning, so I get to deal with Jamie and Charles all by myself, and as I’ve noted, Charlie is not a morning person.
I have to say, though, that I find myself going back and forth between anger at myself for being upset that the family breadwinner doesn’t let me relax more and anger that I frequently buy into the “man makes money, woman makes home” social norm. I mean, Tony shouldn’t have to do any of this daily drudgery, changing diapers or vacuuming or feeding the dog or grocery shopping or laundry. After all, he works all day and he does bathtime and storytime with Charles every night. On the other hand, I am physically and emotionally incapable of doing it all myself and I need help and I should be more modern than to believe that I should do it all just because he makes the money. It makes me think that if I made real money instead of peanuts, maybe I could ask for more help from Tony, but then I would have to give up time with my kids, whom I love dearly. Which is more important? My sanity or time with my babies before they are grown? I think I have shown that my decision is my babies, every time. I could go make a bunch of money (I am educated enough to get a real job, I swear), but I have the opportunity to stay home with my kids during the first year of their lives, and I choose that. And I know that when Jamie gets into daycare full-time, I will be able to handle the homemaking and make a little bit of money, but right now it’s just overwhelming. There’s got to be a better way, you know?
When I think back to right after Charles was born, I am reminded that we had so much help then. Loris came to stay for a whole week. My parents were in town for a whole week. They all did laundry and dishes and vacuumed and made meals, including Thanksgiving dinner, and they took the baby while I napped. I had none of that familial support this time – we have had family visits (a lot while I was in the hospital and would have liked to sleep but instead had visitors for hours on end), but I have had to cook and clean for these visits. For goodness’ sake, I only gave birth 4 weeks ago! I’m not technically cleared for physical activity for another two weeks but I have to lug huge baskets of laundry up the stairs and pick up my toddler and unload groceries and vacuum and cook for visitors.
I guess people expect me to be much better equipped for the second child. And as soon as I drop Charles off at preschool, I breathe a sigh of relief and I usually sneak in a nap, but that doesn’t mean that the laundry or dishes get done. Or the dinner prep. Oh, crap. What are we going to eat tonight?
The truth is, I am a mess. The saving grace is the adorable bundle of boy in my arms all day. Sure, my back is sore from holding him, but he is so dang cute.