Sunday, September 26, 2021

Eight Months: She's So Human

We always talk about how Zoe is so human like she isn't a human, haha.  And I feel like we've made this comment off and on at different specific times in her life, like when she started rubbing her eyes with wrist rotation.  Yes, it's definitely the little things.  But now, she's actually spending a lot of her day upright, sitting on her bottom, taking in the world from our angle rather than from the ground.  She's eating real food, like broccoli and mooncakes, sitting with us at the table.  She has actual mood swings and she expresses frustration now, especially when she can't reach something or when we change her diaper before feeding her.  She has some cheekiness about her too, like dropping things on the ground from her highchair or swiping the spoon against the side of her head and watching for our reaction.  She also has sprouted a tooth (as of yesterday!), and we see the shadows of three others coming in soon.  She doesn't laugh at the same stuff anymore, but she has an updated sense of humor.  Kissy sounds and neck kisses don't quite have the same effect, but now she gets a kick out of us making eating sounds and getting her hands washed in the bathroom sink.  She also is squealing and shouting a lot, which is fun and interesting for us to guess what she must be thinking about.  She loves swimming on her tummy and leaving puddles of drool everywhere she goes.  What's great though is that as of this month, she has learned how to fall asleep on her own, and we are all in a better place because of it!  I still wake up when she cries to feed her, but there is no more of that 45-minute rocking shenanigans to get her back to sleep after that.

I am feeling so much more human, too.  I never thought that going to work would feel so liberating.  I feel so much more like myself, and less like the zombie that I was during maternity leave--a loving zombie, but still a zombie.  Now, I get to put on actual street clothes, socks and shoes, a touch of eye makeup, and my watch every day.  I get into my car and listen to the radio while driving a nice, 15-minute tree-lined commute to my school, and I get to talk with tons of adults and kids.  It's definitely draining because it's been so long (including the whole pandemic shutdown!) since I've stepped foot on an actual school campus, plus this is a new school for me this year, but man is it nice to get away from home.  I do miss our little human at home, but I know that she's in good hands with Daddy and Grandma, and usually when I get home we still have two really great hours to spend together.  Her night wakings don't even bother me as much as they used to, because I get to see her one extra time.  Even though I'm doing so much more each weekday now as I split my time between being Mom and OT, I feel farther away from burnout than I did when I was just focused on mothering.  I think it's helpful to be back on some kind of a predictable schedule and to get plenty of socializing in.  I don't wish that I had gone back to work sooner though, because I still look back on Zoe's first few months of life as the most precious time that could never be recovered.  So sweet, so vulnerable, so hard.  It's a rite of passage for every mom, and I think I've made it through the hardest times now.  

Though I do feel much more like my "old self" these days, I'm still a different person than I was before Zoe was born.  I've been transformed by this experience.  Even at work, I feel like my personality has changed a bit, and friendships have shifted.  I guess you could say that I don't take people's shit as much as I used to--I simply have no time and energy for anything outside of my own responsibilities, so I am less of that dependable helper or that person who would always reach out to check in.  But the sad part is that I'm not really that sad about it... is that sad?  I understand now why people have children and sort of drop off the map.  I used to scorn that kind of "typical" mom behavior, but now I get it, and I am sorry that I didn't know and that I judged.  At work, I work with many moms and that really helps.  Everyone is very understanding and it's nice to vent to those who get it.  I finish my reports and notes much quicker than I used to, and I spend lunch working rather than chit-chatting so that I can take less work home.  I don't cram in other activities after work anymore--I go straight home and soak in every second that I can with Zoe.  There are days that I wish that I could go and do whatever I want after work is over, but at the same time I ache to see her during my busy day and wouldn't trade that time for anything.  Every night when she goes to sleep, I wish that we had another hour.  I do wish that I was a better friend, but I've accepted that my new normal just does not involve friends as much as it used to, and that's okay.

As a couple, we're starting to get back to our pre-baby pace of life too, now that Zoe no longer relies on us to rock her to sleep, is taking longer naps, and predictably goes to bed at 6:00 PM every day.  I can't believe that we're here at this point where things actually feel "normal" again.  Finally we are no longer zombies.  I feel like I still kind of have PTSD from those first few months, but the stress and anxiety is starting to become more and more of a distant memory.  I think it's also been helpful that the weather is cooling down enough for us to go on a few weekend hikes as a family.  Hiking feels so right.  We took Zoe on her first hike and she did great!  We even put little shoes on her.  I also was very surprised that I was able to fit into my hiking clothes.  The shoes felt tight, but we realized after the hike was over that I had two in-soles in my boot, haha... no wonder.  It had literally been so long that I forgot.  But wow, how nice it was to be able to take Zoe onto the trail that we hiked so many times while I was pregnant with her.  I kept asking her, "Do you remember this hike?  You were in my belly!"  We've planned a little hiking vacation over my birthday weekend for next month.  It could turn out to be a total flop, but at least it's a possibility for us now!

We are so excited that Zoe is growing and expressing herself so much, and that we can start incorporating her in some of our favorite pastimes, like hiking and eating.  She's been trying lots of foods that we love, including mantou (plain Chinese steamed bun), mooncake, bagels, purple yam, and steak.  We are lucky that she is interested in eating everything and that she's so entertaining to watch, to boot.  Every so often, we look back wistfully on how much smaller she used to be and how adorably helpless she was--the way she used to fall asleep in our arms, her toothless smile, her nondescript gurgly nasally noises.  We've ordered 9-month clothing for her now and are getting ready to put away the 6-month clothes... it's always sort of hard for me to put away clothes that she's outgrown, but each time it does seem to get easier to let go.  With each cycle, I reflect on the amazing things she's done and how we've both personally grown as her parents.  Wes and I look at her black-and-white image on the baby monitor each night or during work and we always talk about how absolutely perfect she is.  Our daughter, our baby.

No comments:

Post a Comment