Last week began my venture as the stay-home parent. With mom gone, Chippy off to France for the holidays, and Ben in a face-to-face meeting all week, often not home until past 9pm, I was solo and nervous. Was I prepared for the unexpected? Where would be that extra hand when I’d need it?
Obviously Milo and I survived, and it might even be going — knock on wood — well, at least, at this instant as he naps and I have time to write a blog (I gave up on one-handed typing).
I was worried how to do anything in between feeding and holding him. That I’d go crazy sitting on the couch. I can’t feel helpless because once I do, I act it. So I opted to not take much-needed naps with baby on chest, and instead made plans to leave the house, my shelter. What if he cried inconsolably? Pardon my language, but what if there is a blowout? And how do I time things so it’s in between feedings, a strict two-hour window? Duh Annie, whip out the guns. And so while eating lunch with a friend at Elephants Delicatessen, we had our first unplanned public feeding and diaper change. I forgot my cover so I clumsily used a blanket for privacy. I felt bad for folks’ appetites as he loudly let one rip in the small cafe. Fortunately, my friend ushered us over to the Nordstrom’s women’s lounge, equipped with a changing table and couches.
One activity, preferably in the afternoon, is plenty. The next day I may have overdone it: a trip to the airport, a walk with a friend who also just had a baby (born three weeks later than Milo, on his due date no less), and then tennis. I only had time for a half-feeding before the reserved court time and sure enough after thirty minutes Milo got bored of listening to the ball. Another day, driving home from a work holiday party, I gave into the crying and pulled over into a parking lot.
Challenging moments are in the morning (by that, I really mean 10am because, hey, I sleep when he does) when I’m eager to start the day. If he’s in a good mood, he’ll hang out in the bouncy seat, and that’s when I go. Glass of water, bagel, put on the wrap, bathroom…Wait, do I go to the bathroom, or focus on transporting all the necessary Milo-soothers (bouncy ball and speakers to blast white noise to name a few) from the bedroom night shift to downstairs? Such decisions.
Another difficult time is when he’s upset even after I whip out the guns. I don’t have much else to offer when he’s still hungry after a feeding. It’s happened several times; we think he’s going through a growth spurt to cross over from 8 to 9 lbs (!). After learning a mommy friend’s record pumping session and feeling like a dripping faucet compared to her fountain, I’ve started to be more diligent about post-feeding pumping to hopefully get more milk. But again, I don’t recommend doing that one-handed either.
To help with the coveted hands-free situation, I got obsessed with the wrap. It’s essentially a super long scarf which you wrap across the body to create a carrier for the baby. Thanks to YouTube, I tried all sorts of holds: hug up against my chest, tucked into my body for naps, and even nursing hands-free. OK, I wasn’t quite able to master feeding and typing at the same time, but I did get one hand available, and that opens a lot of opportunity.
Milo still hasn’t quite fully shifted to our time zone and takes full naps whenever he pleases and continues his constant feeding schedule through the night. Maybe we shouldn’t dress him like he’s going to a PJ party everywhere. But the past few days we’re seeing a small breakthrough; more in a later blog post after we’ve collected more data from our experiments.
Milo is more alert. He’s entertaining tummy time, my Rorschach tests, I’m catching up on my Dr. Seuss while (I think) he looks at the contrasting pictures, and hopefully one of us is getting smarter with the classical music.
But hanging out with a newborn brings me to the title of this blog, which is in reference to the movie Castaway. Any other parents out there know what I’m talking about? Talking to the baby is like talking to Wilson, the volleyball that keeps Tom Hanks company during four years of solitude on an island. At least my monologue has a listener with the sweetest eyes.
And btw, I took too long and had to finish this post one-handed 🙂