I gave Eli a bath tonight. Cyrus was walking and talking with Welles. I hadn’t noticed that our new had indeed become normal nor that my awareness of how difficult this all can be was sort of hiding out in the background until that bath. It was so simple and easy. Eli played and we talked. I was very conscious of how much I miss him and our relationship. I miss the routines. I worry that it will never get better/easier now that we have two. I worry that we will never find a midline or a stasis to balance in or at least near.
Logical me knows we will, but logical me doesn’t seem to be interacting with the rest of my mind. Maybe it’s mad at the rest of me for lack of sleep. Or maybe I just need to chill out and quit worrying so much. That’s easy to do, right?
Did I mention we’re all sick except Welles?
We’re all sick except Welles.
A note: I’m not proofreading this because then I’ll chicken out, deal with it.
I did something I have always wanted to do.
It was a Saturday afternoon and hot- asphalt melting hot. My scalp hurt from a perpetual ponytail. My sternum was tight with anxiety and all the other swirling happenings. We came home from the farmer’s market and cyrus and eli were settled on the couch together reading.
I don’t know what I said, but I know there was something, before I grabbed the lavender handled fabric shears from the box on the counter. I carried them the way I always carry scissors- sharp part in my palm, the plastic handles poking out by my thumb and toward the ceiling.
In the bathroom I leaned over the sink to make the first cut. I separated sections of hair haphazardly. I imitated what I’ve watched stylists do for 30 years. It wasn’t all that bad at first, I was careful. Then I started sweating. And I discovered that leaning over the sink did not stop me from getting hair all over my dress. So I started cutting chunks, as much hair at once as I could. I wanted to go until there was nothing left to grab, then I thought about my hair and all the times in my life when I believed it was the only attractive thing about me. I thought about the insistance of people close to me that I “must never cut [my] hair” and “must always be blond”. I’d been coming to this place for years.
The first act of rebellion was a drastic cut at the hands of an “unapproved” stylist. Then it was color. The darker the better, but not so dark as to be ugly. Bangs. I didn’t go so far as the pixie I wanted, but I kept changing, trying to find my(hair)self. (Once I did, my stylist stopped doing private clients, but that’s not particularly relevant, this would have happened anyway.)
Somewhere along the way I just quit. I lagged on my eyebrows and mustache. I wore the same rope sandals every day and never ever got a pedicure. My hair reverted to it’s natural color. The hippy dippy parts of me were stoked. The more central part of me, not so much. Really, this haircut was the final piece of an I’m-shit-and-deserve-nothing-nice-and-should-look-accordingly puzzle.
I stopped cutting.
I felt lighter and it was easier to breathe. I took a shower and reveled in the glory of washing manageable hair. Then I looked in the mirror and saw:
I thought, maybe it’s not so bad.
Then it dried.
Because it was a Saturday afternoon there was no getting an appointment to have it fixed over the following 2 days.
A blessed, wonderful, talented friend offered to come over and fix it when she got back in town Tuesday morning. Perfect!
Except that I was pushing a baby out of my vagina on Tuesday. So.
I’m stuck with my bad decision hair. And I need to put the pieces of myself back together. But something tells me the overhaul is going to involve a lot more than a hair appointment…to be continued.*
*Once I’ve got my shit together.*
*Not a typo. I gained so much weight in the last month of my pregnancy that my jeans* started cutting into my uterus even when I left them unbuttoned.
*I went to Crossroads late in my first trimester and bought a huge pair of jeans because I hate the feel of maternity pants. I wore them with a belt, then alone, then held together by a hair tie, then unbuttoned. Then, well, see above.
I got stumped.
Sunday was (would have been?) my step mom’s birthday. She died in July. I wanted to write something but nothing felt right. Something about death and birth and the greater meaning. Instead I ditched the blog, didn’t call or text my dad, sisters, or aunts, and focused on my own little bubble*, which, though it sounds nice with a new baby, isn’t very good for me.
I need to get out and move and reach out to people. My downfall is isolation. I disappear from myself and that makes me no good to anyone.
I may need to start pumping, just so I can go to the gym. But I’m terrified of nipple confusion. She’s two weeks old today and I’ve heard that bottles should wait until at least three weeks. Is it worth it? Is it cheating? Will she suffer? Am I crazy?
I’ve spent the last little while reveling in my tiny daughter, kissing her, smelling her, drinking her in. I wondered why I was feeling so free with the kisses, then it hit me- I didn’t feel guilty!
Eli told me last night that it makes him sad when I kiss Welles. I got caught kissing her twice. No one wants their baby to hurt, especially not because of their actions. But it’s not like I could stop being affectionate with her. So I’ve been trying to give him even more extra love and attention than I had been. It’s so hard though because I know that no matter what, it won’t be enough because there is no enough. It’s a transition without limits.
I’d like to have more time that I don’t feel suffocated by guilt. How do I let go so that I can fully appreciate the sweet moments?
There are loads of lists and posts and essays and articles titled ” what no one tells you about becoming a parent”, but I have yet to see the biggest one that I most relate to:
I’ve seen isolation, with the advice to get out of the house for a walk or call a friend, but this loneliness I’m talking about is different. It’s the 3am feeding and diaper change while your partner and older child sleep soundly. It’s them going out to work in the yard and being stuck on the couch because it’s too sunny or hot for a 1 week old. (And her mother who has heat sensitivity issues.) It’s not wanting to complain because you know how fleeting and sweet this time of baby breath, sour milk, and discovery is. And then it passes. Because it is so special. You look down at your baby with her little noises, her tiny mouth, and her brother’s eyelashes and you think of your friends who are in it, right now, with you. You yawn in solidarity knowing that one or maybe even all of them are awake, too.
And then an hour later, it begins again.
Since giving birth:
The laundry has been caught up on.
We have yet to go to bed with dishes in the sink.
The sheets have been changed and the bed made daily.
Eli has eaten well* and brushed his teeth twice daily.
Boxes have gone to Goodwill.
Cemented fence bits and a rusty who-knows-what has been dug up and discarded.
I’m sure there’s more that I’m forgetting.
Thing I’ve done since giving birth:
Breastfed, changed diapers, tried to rest, cuddled both babies, and made lentils.
Cyrus has done everything on that first list and more. He has made our house a nice place to be and kept the wheels turning.
I write this not to brag (but, yes, I’m incredibly lucky), but to share my conflict about it all. When I see Cyrus running ragged while I sit nursing I feel guilty. I feel like I should be helping instead of sitting, laying down, or making messes. Is this just a me thing? Or a female thing? Or a societal thing?
I know that my body is working hard and that I’m exhausted, but I feel like I should be doing more. Or helping more. Something more. Is this just a new parent thing?
*Though I’d give him more veggies.