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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.

14 Comments Post a comment
  1. Marilyn Martin #

    Sounds like D is having a lot more fun than S! Try doing all this alone sometime, while making 19 trips back and forth to the U.S. Consulate to get that precious visa. A planned two weeks easily turns into three months. Just sayin’.

    March 12, 2014
    • Thanks, Marilyn, we’ll pass, though we’re well acquainted with the trials and tribulations of acquiring that precious visa. While it’s true that D has more freedom, he has been very supportive and we’re both glad that we have this time to tag team. We’re sure that parenting will be more challenging once D goes back to work, particularly if I also start working.

      – S

      March 12, 2014
  2. Marilyn Martin #

    BTW, he really is a beautiful little baby. :)

    March 12, 2014
  3. I’m impressed you guys have gotten out as much as you have! It isn’t easy. Don’t be so hard on yourselves… :)

    March 13, 2014
    • Thanks, weren’t you out at a baby-wearing event days after BM2 was born?

      March 13, 2014
      • Haha, I took Sweetpea to the playground. It is easier with baby #2! I still haven’t left her alone yet though…

        March 13, 2014
        • Well I certainly wouldn’t leave Munchkin with the nurses in the “nursery” when we were in the hospital but I feel better about leaving him with his grandparents. It’s not so much the separation anxiety as being a slave to the pump since my supply is low.

          On a separate note, I’ve been meaning to ask you if you’re planning to write about maternity care, OBs, and L&D in Nairobi. I think it’d make for a very interesting post especially since you can compare it to the health care system in the UK and US.


          March 13, 2014
          • I was the same! I wouldn’t let either baby out of my sight while in the hospital. Grandparents are great for first time leaving baby…

            I need to get my act together and start writing again! The weeks are flying by, and I really hoped not to take such a long break from writing. I will most likely write about my experiences delivering in the UK and Kenya. I think a lot of mums (and mums-to-be) who are new in Kenya have a lot of questions about how things work here.

            March 13, 2014
            • I think so too. Looking forward to reading what you have to say.

              March 13, 2014
  4. Laura #

    Unsolicited advice from a stranger, but don’t feel like you *have* to go out and do anything! :) I read this article just before my daughter was born in 2012:

    I decided that I was going to treat the first two months of my daughter’s life (my maternity leave) as a special time where I gave myself “permission” to not feel like I had to do anything other than take care of and hang out with her. I didn’t leave home much and I also didn’t worry about getting things done around the house. We just relaxed and bonded together in our own little world, and it was lovely.

    It’s not like we’re homebodies in general… she traveled to 10 states and two other countries before she turned 1. But for me at least, it was helpful to treat those first couple of months as a special time that was different from the rest of our busy lives. The first 6 weeks seem to last forever, but after that, life with baby flies by!

    Anyway, just wanted to throw in my two cents… don’t feel like you have to go out and do things just like always if you’d rather not! Do what feels right to you. :)

    March 13, 2014
    • Thanks, Laura, for sharing that article. We’ve also read similar information and are glad that we have these 5 weeks at home together before D goes back to work. You’re absolutely right that it’s not always easy to give ourselves ‘permission’ not to get things done but it does make sense that it’s what is best for mom, dad, and baby.

      March 13, 2014
  5. congratulations! and you’re not alone on the car seat front. my husband INSISTED he could do it himself but i made him go to a car seat inspector anyway. lo and behold, he did it wrong. you get the hang of it eventually, but yes, they are ridiculously hard to install. :P enjoy baby time!

    March 13, 2014
    • Yea for some reason the car seat manuals are unintelligible and we were fooled into thinking we could use LATCH in the middle seat. Thank goodness the car seat inspectors set us straight. How are you liking DC? Has your little one arrived? Hope all is well!

      March 13, 2014

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