the new normal
After fighting tooth and nail against being admitted to the hospital, S had a surprisingly difficult time leaving it and setting foot in the real world outside.
Life changes rather drastically after having a baby, and while D has thus far done a decent job of holding on to his favorite pursuits and pastimes, S has been unable to get her brain to switch into non-baby mode. With feedings every 2-3 hours and the need to pump afterwards, it gets hard to keep track of time, and days somehow fly by without S feeling like she was able to accomplish much of anything. Our staggered eating and sleeping schedules have largely enabled us to avoid sleep deprivation, which is a huge victory in and of itself, but S sometimes finds herself wishing she was getting more done.
While Munchkin was still in the hospital, D took an evening off and drove down to Boston to have dinner with friends and see one of his favorite bands — Flogging Molly — perform at the House of Blues. He was back at the hospital by 1am to help soothe Munchkin while S got a little bit of shuteye, which earned him enough brownie points to justify going to another concert the following week. Another night, with S’s parents visiting us in the hospital, D snuck out to have a couple of beers with friends at Portland’s best beer bar, which was showcasing a local brewery in a total tap takeover.
S, on the other hand, needed a lot of convincing just to leave Munchkin in her mother’s arms for an hour so that we could have a proper meal at a restaurant for the first time in over a week. She spent the entire drive to the restaurant talking frantically and only calmed down when our drinks arrived and she took a sip of her first post-pregnancy beer. The day before, D had suggested that S get some fresh air and pick up lunch at a local taqueria while he watched Munchkin, who was sleeping peacefully in his arms. S got as far as putting one leg into her jeans before declaring that she simply could not do it.
Getting discharged, though much anticipated and thoroughly welcome, was also a bit unsettling and it took us a day or two to establish a new routine. With no visitors and no round-the-clock vitals checks, we relaxed our schedule a little. At the hospital, the nurses had us keeping strict track of Munchkin’s feeding sessions and carefully inspecting his dirty diapers to mark his progress along a rainbow poop chart. Whereas the first week of Munchkin’s life we focused mostly on learning how to soothe him and help him sleep peacefully, at home we started working on keeping him engaged when he was awake.
We also learned to fully embrace “baby time” — the notion, quite similar to the “Latin time” that will be familiar to anyone who has traveled in South America, that it is pretty much impossible to ever be on time with a baby. We took Munchkin to his pediatrician, applied for a passport for him, and ran a few other errands, never once managing to leave the house on time no matter how early we began getting ready. We also stopped by the local fire department for a car seat inspection, learning two very important lessons: (1) Car seats are unnecessarily difficult to install correctly (though we are usually good at following instructions, we had failed to do the job properly on our own), and (2) For the time being, Munchkin hates being in his car seat.
We hope his rebellious anti-car seat phase passes quickly, because although we are happy to upend our lives for him, we would like to preserve at least a modicum of our independence and wanderlust. We have friends who travel extensively with their children, even very young ones, so we know that it is possible. But before we take Munchkin on any trips, we have to start with less ambitious plans. This upcoming weekend, we have tickets to see our favorite band, the Slackers. D’s parents have agreed eagerly to babysit, but S is still not sure whether she will actually make it out to see the show.