Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Amnesia Bits

In my two posts since Sam was born, I have painted the happiest picture of our time together, and in truth our time is very happy. But in fairness to other new parents and parents-to-be, I must acknowledge the Amnesia Bits: the difficult bits that we forget almost as soon as they occur because sleep deprivation and nature need us to forget them for the good of the continuation of the species.

For instance, the night when the baby is about six days old when he has been cluster-feeding at a different time every single day and his mother's new milk supply can't get in sync with his schedule, and she hasn't had more than two hours' sleep in a row since the baby was born and is sore from surgery and carrying a baby around, and it's one in the morning and the three-year-old is awake due to the crying baby's crying, and this whole breastfeeding thing seems like a monumentally bad idea, and you try to get your loving partner to come out from settling the three-year-old and to find an all-night pharmacy that will sell him some FORMULA and a BOTTLE and FAST before mama loses her mind.

Hypothetically speaking. You can see how this kind of scenario would be possible. If it happened to me, it slipped my mind almost as soon as Stephen talked me down from the late-night pharmacy search and patiently picked up a bottle and some formula in the morning. (The formula can remains unopened ten weeks later and the bottle has only been used for breastmilk.)

I don't remember any of it, of course, but in the first two weeks of any baby's life it is impossible to hold a thought in your head, and if you manage to hold a thought, it is likely to be an irrational one and it would be better for all involved to let it go.

In eleven weeks, Anna has had three overlapping colds. Sam shared the first one, when he was just three weeks old, and we spent five nights sitting up with both kids, each of us keeping one of the sitting upright so they could breathe better. Anna went on to a croupy cough, a reprieve over Christmas, then another bad cough that went away only to be replaced with a different cough and cold two days later. And now Sam has the new cold, though he is not so thoroughly sick and run-down as his sister.

Add to the rotating rhinoviruses the ordinary difficulty of adjusting to a new sibling, and Anna has had a tough time all-round. She adores her brother and her role as a big sister - which she takes very seriously. She plays with Sam on his playmat and sings songs and reads stories to him. She holds him any time she is allowed to. And she's not jealous, per se. She's just confused, and overwhelmed, and inspired to regress in all the predictable ways for a child her age who is faced with a new sibling. She's so precocious verbally it is sometimes hard to remember that emotionally, she's just a three-year-old kid.

The other challenge already best forgotten was my breastfeeding injury of two weeks ago. I managed to sprain my elbow so painfully that it was swollen and immovable for five days. I did this by hiking up and tensing my shoulders while feeding Sam in the middle of the night - and made it worse and worse because I had to feed him every two hours. Fortunately, a massage and some careful work to stretch my shoulders and arms and position myself in the best possible posture healed the injury.

I seem to have been almost housebound for a different reason every week since Christmas - Anna's adjustment back to a regular routine one week, lack of a second stroller until we picked up one secondhand another, a dramatic dip in temperature after mild mild winter days a third week. Then the injury, and the colds, blah blah blah. It has all added up to some serious inertia, but we're beginning to see the light.

In fact, we're the last in our neighbourhood to still have our Christmas lights blinking. This is so we continue to see the light during the long Canadian winter. Stephen unplugged the lights on the front and back deck today, but we'll leave up the festive solar twinklers in the hawthorn bush. They are a great reminder of how much longer the days are getting, week by week. At Christmastime, the solar panels only collected enough light for about three hours of evening twinkling. On these sunny, snowy days, the lights sometimes collect enough sunlight to stay on almost until dawn.