It’s about time I got back into a blogging groove, no?
My daughter is eight weeks old today. She is a smiling, happy, strong little baby who started laughing out loud recently, charmed by the beguiling fishes hanging on her bouncy chair.
The past eights weeks have blurred together into chunks of time: the first few days, where we switched gears from high-risk pregnancy and complicated birth to being parents and getting to know our little girl, and attending to her medical needs. Then there were a few weeks where we adjusted to some feeding problems and started learning more and more from her and about her.
The past few weeks, we’ve had so much fun watching her grow more alert, smile at us, reach for things, and start to imitate us. And we’re taking longer, deeper breaths: she is doing well and minor health issues are improving; she is a good sleeper and great about letting us know what she needs; without forcing it, we all seem to have fallen into some semblance of routine.
It seems like each week presents a new normal, a realignment of expectations and possibilities. Now, I find myself negotiating the whole back-to-work scene (expect a full post on these issues later). Right now it is part-time, but maternity leave came and went too quickly. My expectations for what I can get done and how much I can extend myself change by the hour, but I am learning to roll with that. (Hey, a lifetime of illness getting in the way of work was good practice for this!)
Before I was pregnant with her, we talked a lot on this blog about parenting and chronic illness, and one fear so many people shared with me was what to do on the days when we are not able to care for ourselves, let alone infants/children. The discussion in the comments thread revealed that it takes a village. This is true for any family with a new baby, but so incredibly important for parents with chronic illness.
And I’ve had practice negotiating that change, too—being acutely sick with a newborn. Now, I had a few things working for me: I was sick, but not very sick (for me)—I knew things wouldn’t deteriorate enough to send me to the hospital, and the whole thing only lasted two weeks. Also, thus far, our baby has a really easy temperament: she rarely fusses (and if so, with good reason); she sleeps well, for an infant; and she is very adaptable. But for a variety of reasons, there was no one to help me.
So we took it one moment, one hour, one feeding at a time, until we’d made it through the end of another day. She did not get walks or much fresh air that week, she did not get the very best version of me as a mother, but she did get my very best each day.
There are a lot of acute illnesses and medical calamities going on with people close to me right now. The details are not mine to share but they speak to another adjustment—balancing being a new mother and putting my daughter’s needs first with helping with the emotional and physical needs of others. A lot of the time I feel pulled in many different directions, and just at a time when I have a young baby who needs me there are lots of other demands, too.
In the end, the same principles that make so much sense with chronic illness apply—with work, with care giving, with new roles and expectations, we take it day by day, and know that today’s normal might not work tomorrow. And with a happy, healthy baby, we have few complaints.