Friday, November 21, 2008

What I've learned as a new mom

How to take naps
I think I mentioned in a previous post that I'm not so adept at taking naps. Well I learned real fast after Jack arrived. I learned how to take 3 10-minute naps in a row while sleep-walking to a crying baby in between, I learned how to nap with a child laying on my chest, I learned how to nap on my husband during a football game, and I've learned how to nap while sitting up and nursing. Of course, now that I'm back to working and Jack is sleeping longer at night, my nap days are over. But it was fun while it lasted!

Babies don't care what you look like
Actually, this may not be true. I learned in my Child Psych class that babies actually responded more to photos of attractive people than to photos of less-than-attractive people. But that's not my point. What I mean is, Jack doesn't care if my hair is done or if I'm wearing make-up. In fact, at this age he can't even see farther than a foot. And he prefers me in sweats anyway because it's softer for him when he's held. So I gave up on all that after day 5. My husband, on the other hand, probably does. So I'm thinkin' I should get my act together in the near future.

The three hour rule
I got a new clock on Oct. 12, it's name is Jack, and his hungry-alarm goes off about every 3 hours. So I've quickly learned how to predict the future in 3 hour increments. Before becoming a mother, I had no idea how much time I would spend nourishing my child. When you consider that it takes at least 30 minutes for him to eat, I'm down to 2 1/2 hours between feedings. And since it takes about 20 minutes to get anywhere worthwhile in this city, I'm only left with about two hours to run errands. Which is just enough time to get groceries, run to Target, or dash into the office while Jon has some bonding time with Jack. This also means that I have to plan these errands well in advance so that I can be ready and out the door as soon as he's done eating. Which leads to my other point ...

Everything takes twice (or three or four times) as long to accomplish
When you're spending a large chunk of your day feeding, entertaining or calming a baby a lot of other tasks fall by the wayside. So I've learned to pencil in a few extra hours for each of the chores that take priority. Like dinner for instance. Last week I made a quiche. I started it at 10am, just so I could continue working on it at intervals throughout the day, and have it ready to eat by 5pm. Same thing with laundry and cleaning. If I know I'm headed out some time that day, then I'll work on my hair during one of Jack's naps, put make-up on during another, and lay out my clothes so that I can get changed right after he eats and avoid any spit-up before heading out the door. Trips with Jack also take extra-long. Last weekend, my friend also named Janine and I took our babies to the mall. While we had a fun day together, we didn't get much accomplished in the way of shopping. Since we had to stop to feed the kiddos about every two hours, we only were able to hit up about 3 stores and grab some lunch. We did learn that Nordstrom's has a great lounge in the ladies room.

How to do things with one hand ... or no hands
One of the reasons it takes so long to do things is because I only have one hand free. So I've learned to cook dinner while balancing Jack in one arm. Or to carry the laundry with one hand and hip. And since I'm still working (and I have friends who insist on chatting on messenger while I'm feeding Jack) I've become especially skilled in typing with one hand too. In fact, my typing speed with just one hand is 33 WPM and steadily improving!! I've also learned how to utilize my toes when my hands aren't free. Like for picking clothes up off the floor, or for impressing my husband by retrieving my travel mug off the coffee table while holding a sleeping baby.

Quick diaper changes
As the mother of a son, I quickly learned not to take my time while changing diapers ... or I'll pay for it! So I now have a diaper changing process. It begins with laying out the baby wipe and diaper. And pre-opening the diaper so that all those little tabbies don't get stuck together right when I need them. I try to be fast with the clothes, but really, have you ever tried to change a dancing, wriggling little body? It's a lot harder than it looks!

How great it is to be a parent
The past few weeks have definitely been full of some rude-awakenings for Jack's mom and dad. But we've also learned how incredible it feels to hold your own son, how entertaining his little facial expressions can be, how your heart just melts when he looks you in the eyes, and how much you miss him even when you're only gone for 2 hours.

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