Today I had a major mom guilt moment. We moved one of our bookcases out of the office into the living room (part of preparations for the new baby's room). This involved a fair amount of book reorganizing to get everything we wanted to fit the way we wanted it. Well, as I was working on it, Natalie was bothering me. I snapped at her a bit, but she really cried when Mike took her away from me. I felt horrible. She just wanted me to pay attention to her. This was particularly bothering me because I am reading these books about when your second child arrives and how hard it can be, how trying and demanding and contrary your first born can be on purpose, and here I am snapping at her over moving books. Mike was saying I have the excuse of being irritable because of the pregnancy, but I told him its just going to be worse when I'm tired and frazzled from the baby. I worry about making it through day after day with just me, a newborn, and Natalie. I expect that I will be missing my time along with Natalie and our rituals, as she might as well, but more so I'm worried about keeping her happy and busy when there are mornings like today when I feel I can't when she has my full attention. Then, these books I read talk about both parents being exhausted. I asked Mike honestly and he said he wasn't all that sleep deprived with Natalie because even though we were in the same room, he slept through most of her crying and after the very beginning, he didn't get up because it didn't make sense if I was exclusively nursing. I expect that to be the way it is again, and I worry about that making me feel really alone, what with all the night work alone and all the day time while he's at work. I know that he will be a huge help when he gets home from work, but Natalie should be asleep for most of that time, lessening the work load dramatically. With Natalie, I honestly didn't feel all that tired most of the time either and I didn't sleep all the times that she slept, but it was just her to care for. She stayed in one place, allowed me to nap or read while she nursed. It will be very different this time around. I vary greatly between feeling like it shouldn't be too horrible, to real concern about being completely overwhelmed.
Her wanting my attention today while I was busy made me step back and look at how we spend our time together. I really feel like I don't interact with her enough sometimes. I wonder if the attention I give her is normal or average. For example, do most mothers sit and talk with their child the whole time they eat a snack, or do they put the dishes away like I do? There are of course times when I make a real effort to really play with her and not just follower her around. But, times like this morning, all she wanted to do was wander around. I kept trying to engage her with toys to come play with me, but it took quite a bit before she would. Sometimes she just wants to do her own thing, or isn't satisfied because what she wants (to go out, to turn on the TV, etc) is not what we are going to do. When we let her watch TV, it often is a huge break for us because she watches and plays a bit while she does. But some days that makes me feel bad, too. Its like she's a little TV zombie. Does she want to watch TV because we don't interact with her enough? I felt like this evening was better. I read to her while she had dinner (because we ate later during the Super Bowl) and she seemed much more interested (and happy) playing with us. Weekends are especially hard. Mike is around, so I want him to play with her so I can have a break, but he has things he needs to do and gets tired, too. And sometimes I wonder if he takes a back seat because he is following me lead or if he is just letting her lead the playing. In some ways, I feel like its good that she is generally so happy and agreeable, and that I don't have to actively keep her busy every minute. Sometimes I feel like that means she is well adjusted, other times I feel like she has just adapted to me not actively playing with her enough (especailly when I read about kids drawing into themselves and sucking their thumbs because they don't get enough attention when a new baby comes home. I feel Natalie does that now sometimes. Is she just having some down time and still getting that thumb sucking comfort (but too active to come snuggle with me), or is she coping?). And, recently, its made me feel like maybe she will be able to handle the loss of attention when the new baby arrives better than some if she can watch a show or play some while Mike and I talk or I read. That's another problem with weekends, or even evenings. When Mike is around, I find myself talking to him, and not to her. In some ways, how I can I blame myself? Its the only daily adult interaction I get. But I also often wonder how she feels about it. All these times I'm not playing or talking with her, its not like she is being hushed up, but I do sometimes feel like she is getting ignored, and maybe she had just learned to deal with it? I don't know. Yesterday for example when Mike moved his computer, we all in the new office. She was having a ball touching the monitor on the floor and pressing the keyboard keys and running from room to room. And at meals, we talk and she seems pretty happy to just eat. Its quite possible I'm being hard on myself, but other times, when I go through a day, or a weekend, and I feel like I wasn't really with her, I'm not as sure.
That was one thing I did love about going out that one time with the baby sitter here - when we got back, I was so ready to cuddle and coddle Natalie. Not because she was upset or anything, but just because I was so happy that we all could have successful time apart. It made me ready to come back and love her so actively. I think there is a lot to to be said about that. I mean, really how often do I truly get away from Natalie? I'm supposed to sleep in on Saturday mornings, but I am the one who hears her wake up, and after that I'm awake. And how can I not come out and say hello if I'm just laying there awake with no chance of getting back to sleep when I hear her saying Momma, Momma? I really do need to take advantage of getting away while I can so that I'm not totally burned out by the time the new baby arrives. Because, as much as they say to get away for breaks, you can't realistically get away when you are exclusively nursing. I might be able to run out and do an errand or go for a walk, maybe. But Mike and I going out alone for a date or me going out with a friend or going out shopping alone is going to be out of the question for a couple of months at least. The only bright spot is that in the next two weeks, I have a few chances to get away. First, Thursday, I'm supposed to go out with a friend for her birthday. Mike says its okay if I miss bed time, and I know that I just should, but I know it will also make me sad. Missing putting her to bed is something I just need to start getting used to because it will happen when I'm in the hospital, and as much as I'd like it not to, it might have to become a regular routine depending on the baby. I don't like thinking about that because I love bedtime. I wonder if Natalie would allow me to nurse during her bedtime if it was the only way I could be there? Anyway, Thursday is the first chance to get out. We are waiting on the babysitter to call us back to make sure our timing of two doctor's appointments and this outing will all work out. Then, this weekend we are going to my parents' and my mother offered for us to go out in the evening for Valentine's Day while Natalie sleeps. While we technically have every night to ourselves, it is a little different when we actually go out. The question will be if I have enough energy to go out. Then, on the 20th (the following weekend), there is my second book club meeting. I will miss bed time for that one. I'm a little worried about having enough energy for that, too, (and also getting lost going to and from because I don't want to car pool for that reason), but I don't want to miss it because that book was To Kill a Mockingbird. Besides, I know that there will be meetings I have to miss later, though I've thought about whether it would be acceptable to bring a newborn to book club, especailly if its an easy going newborn. So, I'm hoping that these three changes to get away a little bit will be as positive as our date to see Black Swan a couple weeks ago.
Well, its a few minutes to one now. I think I've succeeded in making myself tired. Hopefully, I've also managed to clear my mind enough to fall asleep.
To end on a positive note, here is the latest Natalie awesomeness:
- She puts her finger to her lips to say shh. She also covers her ears when she does this. One of our Sesame St videos has a picture of a woman covering her ears, and Natalie will shh.
- This afternoon she learned the word Hooray! She said it when she put two toy plates down on a stool, then kept saying it back at the stool. Later, I got her to sing if you're happy and you know it shout hooray, and put her arms up.
- Yesterday after Mike was finished moving his computer downstairs, he played a Chromio song and Natalie went down to visit. He danced with her in his arms and she was waving her arms. She was really dancing and having fun!
- Last night, Natalie slept hugging her Kitty for the first time.
- She has been very into sharing this little plastic milk carton toy with us and her toys.
- She started to notice letters! It started when I wore my USM shirt and she asked What's that over and over for the letters. Next, she started asking what the letters on the fridge were.
- Major splashing in the tub - tidal waves. She also learned how to get water in the cup and poor it out.
- Other new words she's working on are rain, bowl, plate, and I think book is starting to sound less like gook. There are things she repeats throughout the day, but I have no idea what they mean. Sometimes it seems like she is just making noise, but other times the way she looks at me when she says them it is like she is seriously trying to tell me something, and all I can do is nod.