Friday, March 26, 2021

Two Months: Firsts and Lasts

These days, we often lie in bed at night and marvel at the fact that there is a tiny human in the same room. She has been on this earth for nearly two months now. We roll over and watch her sleep, her big head turned towards us to her left shoulder, one arm straight out, cheeks spilling out of the collar of her onesie, perky lips slightly apart, her tiny chest rising and falling quickly with its rhythmical irregularity that we have become so accustomed to. She might let out a sudden gasp or wheeze, a whimper, a snort. We’ve gotten so used to it that we laugh and put on our earplugs. We feel mostly at ease around her and we trust that she will let us know if she needs anything.

Zoe has grown and changed a lot. We just weighed her and she is now a whopping nine pounds! She has just learned to suck her hand to self soothe, she’s tracking objects across midline, she’s looking longer at our faces, and even making different kinds of sounds. She has been opening and closing her hands, bringing them up to her face, and bringing them together when she eats on her side. The downy hair on her back is almost all gone, and her eyelashes have popped out. We just put away her newborn clothes, switched her to size 1 diapers, and adjusted the head height of her car seat. She just feels longer in our arms, more solid, and less fragile. We’ve been catching first glimpses of the cutest smile. She no longer sleeps with her arms up by her ears and she wriggles her hand out of even Daddy’s best swaddles by herself. She is awake a bit more than before, but at the same time she sleeps for longer stretches in between. She has a stronger neck and a stronger butt— just the other day, she shot a poop torpedo all the way to the wall!

While we have yet so many “firsts” to look forward to, we have already seen some “lasts.” It’s so poignant and bittersweet that it both touches and breaks my heart. Most of the time, we don’t even realize when it’s the last time something happens until it’s over. And this is why other moms have advised me to soak in every bit of what’s happening, both the good and the bad—these moments are truly fleeting. We have so many videos and photos to help us remember and relive. One night, as we were groggily trying to put a very awake Zoe down to sleep, Wes said, “We are going to miss this.” I scoffed—way too tired to be sentimental. But that’s exactly how it happens—you get so tired that you essentially let things slip by that one day you can never bring back. But for every last that sneaks by unnoticed, there is an exciting first that has already taken or will soon take its place. And all of those firsts will someday become a last, too. The never-ending cycle is incredible. This strikes me as the most amazing part of being a parent and watching your child grow.

An example of this was when I had to replace all of her outgrown clothes in her drawer a few days ago. Initially, we laughed as we tried unsuccessfully to zip her into a onesie that no longer fit. Clearly, it was time to move on to the next size up. As I was packing away her newborn clothes, tears rolled down my cheeks. I was not aware that it would be the last time she wore this one with the woodland creatures on it the last time we had dressed her in it. That was our favorite one. The thought that she will never be this small again was never more apparent, even though I did my best to cherish every moment spent tucking her into her 30"x40" receiving blanket, folding those tiny mitts over her balled up fists. Soon she will also outgrow the custom brown crochet bear ears hat that she wore home from the hospital. But hey, now she can fit into the fancy Jessica Simpson onesies from Nordstrom that Wes has been teasing me for buying (only because it’s so against my practical nature when it comes to fashion). And when we tried her in the hooded critter onesie that we had been looking forward to seeing her in, it fit!

The days still feel long, as we continue with the daily grind of feeding, diapering, and soothing around the clock, but just like that, we’ve been parents for eight weeks. I still feel as though I had just given birth to her yesterday. On the one hand, there are still so many questions and so much guesswork that goes into keeping this baby healthy and happy. But on the other hand, we definitely are more confident in our conjectures. Like, we aren’t calling the hospital or consulting Google multiple times a day! And we understand that there’s really never a right answer, and to avoid being swamped by all the information there is out there. We’ve even gone against a few things that the pediatrician said (shh!). As for me, I’m more skilled at prioritizing my needs and making them known with lessened guilt, and Wes is even more skilled at multi-tasking than he had been before. Side note: he did 29 loads of laundry in the month of February alone. Though we’ve been better at deciphering the baby’s cues, it’s impossible to anticipate every situation as we are still very new, but we both are more mentally prepared for shit hitting the fan—oh, literally.

It’s odd but sometimes I still catch myself forgetting that there is a baby here and that I am a mom. It’s sort of an out-of-body experience. I’m not sure if this happens to other moms, but I asked Wes if he gets this feeling and he does not. I think it’s partly still that sleep deprivation playing games with my brain, but also maybe a part of me is resisting allowing my whole identity to be eaten alive by motherhood. It is definitely all-consuming and I love it, but it does not have to erase all that I was before. I still make time to have conversations with my non-mom friends that are unrelated to babies. I still make time to doodle, to read articles in TIME magazine, to listen to the same podcasts that I liked before, to watch TV shows and sports with Wes (Formula 1!), to do a quick but luxurious yoga flow, to take the stroller out on our usual neighborhood walk, to cook a small side dish to go with dinner, and to shop for some clothing for myself. It’s the littlest things sometimes, but until I return to the workforce, these are things that keep me in touch with the rest of the world. I still haven’t driven my car yet or run an actual errand yet, so a part of me still feels sort of trapped, but I know that I’ll get back to it, as all moms do. And speaking of returning to work, I definitely feel fortunate to have four more months left of maternity leave. Surely they will pass by sooner than I’d like them to, but I know that this is a lot of time in comparison to what other working women in this country are provided with.

We are tired, but we are happy. Zoe is thriving, and honestly, we are too. I am still practically living in my pajamas, but we’ve found more of a rhythm and some failsafe strategies. Also, we are now both vaccinated for COVID-19, and Zoe is receiving her first round of vaccinations next week. Things are looking up, we can’t wait to have our parents (who are also all vaccinated!) inside the house with their masks off to play with Zoe as she becomes more and more observant and social. I am nostalgic for her delicate newborn days, but also relieved that they are over and excited for the milestones and fun times on the horizon.

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