Posts Tagged ‘ parenthood ’

A thousand untrue words

 

Since H was born, one of the conversations I keep having with other parents – after we get through the obligatory “how’s the baby” talk – is the issue of perceptions vs. reality of parenthood. At least once a day I find myself living a moment that feels like a scripted sitcom, but in fact is now my life.  

(I kid you not, my child picked this moment to poop so loudly he startled himself awake… will resume writing after a diaper change.)

So yes, my 4-week-old is developing a great sense of comic timing.

When I was pregnant, other moms of young children loved to tell me about the challenges of parenthood: the sleepless nights, the mountains of poo, the random inconsolable screams. Yet these stories stood in stark contrast to the photos these same friends posted on Facebook of delightful smiling cherubs whose main objective, so far as I could tell, was to make the world a cuter place for us all. 

As someone now receiving a crash-course education in the world of babies I can say safely that there is always a story behind the photo. Let’s consider the picture below, taken yesterday:

 Image

At a glance, this is the stuff the internet is made of: cat, baby, and smiling mama, all snuggled together on the couch as baby eats his 7th lunch of the day (infant eating schedules put hobbits to shame). But of course, this fails to capture what is really going on here:

Cat

After 15 years of being the spoiled only child, Sam’s response to the baby has been less-than-enthusiastic. This photo marks one of the only times Sam has willingly come near the baby, and notice he is touching my hand, steering clear of the infant. While his careful avoidance of H has advantages for us new, worried parents, Sam has been the big looser here as the worries are no longer about him. What this photo does not show is the giant, crusty booger that’s stuck to the cat’s nostril that I noticed just after taking this. Sam has had some sort of feline sinus infection for days and we, overworked and overtired, have neglected to take him to the vet. And so the snot festers and I try to wipe it off while feeding the baby and then realize that cat snot on my hands is probably bad for the baby and attempt to retrieve hand sanitizer without disturbing the baby (the cat having already sulked off in protest of me messing up his nose-sculpture) but that too fails and the baby begins  alternately crying and gasping for food and thus the magic is broken. 

Baby

Every feeding is futile. Babies are never full. We’re lucky our little one is putting the milk to good use and gaining weight as expected. But for every ounce of weight added to the charming rolls of baby-tub, my guess is that at least 4 ounces of food are wasted. This meal, like all the others, came quickly out both ends soon after this photo was snapped. The diaper that followed this feeding contained a bonus otherworldly pinkish liquid, in addition to the standard baby poop fare. This led me right back to my newfound expertise as a poop-googler (I might as well bookmark the “baby poop color” results page). Thankfully, it appears this particular rainbow is perfectly normal.  

Mommy

The lack of make-up, jewelry, or any sort of effort with hair is the stuff stereotypes are made of. Not pictured here is the lower half of my outfit, which consists of the same pair of maternity jeans I received secondhand from a friend’s sister and remain the only pants I am able to wear. A mid-September due date meant a New York City third-trimester summer of skirts and A-line dresses but not a single pair of new maternity pants. This seemed like an economical and fashionable plan, until I found myself nearly 5 weeks postpartum with the leaves turning and the temperature dropping and a big-old baby gut that is going nowhere fast. Someday I will find time to go into a store and figure out my new size. Until then, I submit that clothing may be part of the reason it’s so hard to get new moms out of the house. 

I’ll take a moment to acknowledge here that this is the tame stuff, and to thank the universe for our luck. For every family with a new baby experiencing these sitcom moments, there’s a family struggling with health issues for baby, mama, or both. There are unplanned surgeries and screaming fights and postpartum depression and feeding problems and unpaid medical bills and a whole host of other issues that never appear on Facebook, but that you slowly begin to hear about as you start talking to other families.

In short, if you have a really good friend with a kid,  and you’re not afraid of body fluids, ask for the story behind the latest pics. I promise, there will be one. 

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