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Unglamorous Fairytale

Yesterday I hit bottom. Baby turned six weeks on Monday. Instead of living up to great expectations of longer night sleep periods, Baby decided to sleep for one to two hours at a time all night and almost all of Tuesday morning. By mid-day yesterday, I felt exhausted physically and emotionally.

Without being asked, my husband came home from work early to rescue me from my sleep-deprivation induced insanity. He walked in the door, found me in Baby's room, kissed me, and said we are in this together. Then he told me that he was taking Baby for a walk so that I could sleep without interruption. I want to state publicly and loudly (if possible on a blog) that my husband is not only the absolute love of my life, but he is also the most wonderful, supportive, and caring adventure partner ever. He is my hero.

Did I fall fast asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow? Oh no. Not even ten minutes after my head hit the pillow. I was lying there wondering if, after weeks of Baby needing to sleep on either me or my husband, perhaps now I, too, need to be snuggled in order to drift off to sleep.

Then I remembered the book I turn to obsessively for advice regarding Baby's sleep. Dr. Soandso repeats over and over again in his book that an overtired baby will have a very difficult time falling asleep because our bodies work to fight fatigue. Delightful, I thought to myself twenty minutes later, still lying in bed, still not asleep.

Next, something wicked happened. I got another migraine. The aura, the pounding headache, the nausea; all of it. All there as if to say to me, "Momma, you will either relax and recharge, or I will force you to lie down and put that goddamn chamomile eye pillow over your eyes and GET SOME EFFING SLEEP ALREADY."

After the aura, the nausea, and the worst of the headache passed, I went to the living room to find my hero. He microwaved some baked ziti for us, and we had dinner together for the first time in weeks while Baby slept in his car seat on the floor.

There is absolutely nothing glamorous about this story, but it is my current fairytale - complete with a heroine in distress, a migraine villain, a sleep frenemy, and a husband hero.


The Industrial Revolution

While some philosophers have blamed the Industrial Revolution for the isolation of modern man that led to his current dehumanization and existential dilemma, I would like to take this opportunity to sing the praises of that little revolution.

Every morning, Baby and I engage in a little dance with the crib. I change Baby. I nurse Baby. Baby falls asleep. I put Baby down in the crib. Baby wakes up fussing before Baby has enjoyed a full nap. Cha Cha Cha. Repeat until around 11 am, at which point Baby is bonkers in his overtired state. He finally passes out, and out of fear that he will not sleep for more than thirty minutes again, I put him in our swing. Baby loves sleeping in the swing and will stay there blissfully for about three hours.

Today, the swing, in all of its modern, technological glory did something that feels about as impressive as when Ford created the assembly line. Today, I put Baby in the swing before he passed out while I ate my oatmeal. I put a pacifier in Baby's mouth on a whim (yes, a whim - I am incapable of rational thought between 6 am and 1 pm). I pushed the swing to get Baby gently swinging. Ten minutes later, Baby was fast asleep.

I am aware that the swing and a pacifier trick, just as the assembly line before it, may have some negative consequences. Maybe I will become a less skilled Momma. Maybe I will lose my sense of purpose and humanity and proclaim that God is dead.

But I have a theory about Existentialism: It does not apply to Mommas In Training. We are quite aware that before us is one of the greatest, most difficult tasks on Earth. Further, that purpose just happens to involve ensuring that we survive as a species, which instills a pretty noticeable sense of humanity.

So, three cheers for the swing, the pacifier, and the extra hour of sleep that I am about to get this morning . . . all made possible by the Industrial Revolution and the assembly line.


Social Smiles

I have read that babies begin their social smiles at around six weeks. As Baby approaches this developmental milestone in the next week or so, I may be approaching a milestone of my own.

Lately I have noticed that although I have the adventures of Baby, Grassy, and Zebra to keep me entertained, I need to get out of the apartment. And so I try to take Baby on a walk to the park every afternoon. During these walks, as I pass my neighborhood's many babies, moms, and strollers, and I wonder how much I might be craving some adult company during the day.

But how do people become mom-friends? Should I just sit down next to another mom on a park bench? Is there some online forum where I can find these potential mom friends to schedule a meeting in person? Am I supposed to smile at another mom who walks by with a look that conveys my sympathy for the need to get out of the house as well as what a cool walking buddy I could make?

Left to my own devices, I am an introvert. I am much better at being approached than at approaching. And, five weeks in an apartment with a baby has not necessarily made me more socially capable -- just more disheveled.

Today, when I went to the park, the first potential mom-friend was actually a potential dad-friend. He also looked disheveled, and he kept stopping and checking on the little bundle in his stroller. I imagined making friends with him and starting a Disheveled Parents at the Park Club. Instead, I remained the only member of my Disheveled Parents Club and continued on my loop.

Then I came around a curve and saw what looked like a veritable stroller convention about fifty feet ahead of me. Four moms and their strollers were in the path ahead. Life had just found a way to make the mom-friend issue unavoidable. They were blocking the path, and I would have to find a way to go through them or around them.

What to do? Smile as I stroll around them? Say hello and push right through the middle of their convention? Stop at the periphery and stand there hoping that they want to be my mom-friends?!?!?

I decided to go around them without any hello or smile. But just as I was half way around their circle, they started to move down the path. So, for about thirty seconds, we were all walking "together." This was worse than standing at the periphery and hoping they would invite me in. I sped up and pushed Baby up the path to put an immediate end to all of this awkwardness.

On my way home from the park, I saw the disheveled man and his stroller ahead of me on the sidewalk. As I walked past him, I noticed that the bundle in his stroller was not a baby, but a blanket folded to the size of a small package. Now I know that while I may not yet be capable of social smiles, at least I have a real baby in my stroller.