Friday, May 16, 2014

Enjoy it while you can

When I talk about how much I sleep, it seems like everyone tells me to enjoy it while I can. Lately this "enjoy it while you can" advice has been applied to other things too, like reading, or eating uninterrupted, or going on a date. It's getting to the point where I feel like my life will end after I give birth. Can I go out to lunch? Can I go for a hike? Can I be counted on to perform simple tasks? No, nope, there is no way to have a newborn and do anything else. 

Intellectually, I know that new mothers don't magically disappear. I know because I have seen them post to Facebook and sometimes I see them walking around. There is some sort of life after birth, but from what I hear it doesn't include any sleeping, watching TV, reading, or cooking. My life will be at the mercy of a capricious baby, whose demands will compete with my own and I will be lucky to survive it. 

But at the same time I think that I will have some time to myself. If newborns really do sleep 18 hours every 24 hours, even if I "sleep" for 12 of those hours I still have 6 hours to do other things with (even a large amount of mess and laundry does not take 6 hours to take care of). Maybe I'll be too exhausted to do chores, but then I can at least watch TV, right? Anyway, I am enjoying my life while I can, and I hope I can enjoy it with my daughter in a few weeks too.


Holly Washburn said...

Ok, I had a baby a little over a month ago. In that month I have done quite a bit of reading, TV watching, and cooking. Sleep... not as much as I'd like, but that may be my own fault.

The trick so far has been scheduling things I want to do around the feeding schedule. I usually try to make dinner in the evenings, and it works well if I start just after a feeding when the baby is sleepy. With a more involved recipe, I try to do the prep earlier in the day to break up the time block required.

As for TV, I tend to watch stuff when I'm breastfeeding or doing the dishes, so the multi-tasking works for me. (I might over do it - I watched 7 seasons of Doctor Who in my first three weeks at home after the baby).

Reading on my kindle keeps me entertained when I'm feeding at night. Or during his naps. This is probably why I don't get as much sleep - I'm not good at napping during the day.

Leaving the house is not impossible either. I take the baby to Target or the grocery store fairly easily - but these are short trips that can be scheduled between feedings. I'm still wildly uncomfortable breastfeeding in public places, so longer trips require more forethought. I usually try to bring expressed milk in a bottle if I know he's going to get hungry when I'm at a restaurant or IKEA. Depends what you're comfortable with.

Feeding isn't the only obstacle, of course. My husband freaks out if the baby is crying in a public place. We went for frozen yogurt the other day and I wanted to sit and eat there - the baby started fussing as soon as we sat at a table. Daddy's reaction was "Well, we can't stay here anymore, better pack up and go home." But I convinced him it was fine, he would probably calm down in a few minutes. Which he did, and I don't think any of the other customers resented us too much.

In my experience, it's not as if there are entire classes of activities you will no longer be able to do. It's more that you'll have to prioritize things and decide which ones you want to do that day. If you're having an outing, then dinner might have to be quick and simple. If you want to clean the bathroom, you're not going to have time to finish your book that day.

Does that give you a little more hope for life after baby?

Rachel Helps said...

Holly, that sounds pretty reasonable. You are kind of amazing at multitasking though :-). But I hope I can read/watch TV while breastfeeding.

I'm glad to hear from you and that you are still alive after having that baby!

lisalou said...

I think the "enjoy it while you can" may refer more to the timing of any activity than its nature. Small babies are amazingly portable - you can just take her along on almost any activity - but you have to be willing and able to drop everything (not literally) and focus on her needs whenever necessary.
One of the biggest adjustments is getting used to interrupted sleep. If you don't find it easy to nap during the day, you may find yourself pretty fatigued at times. This is likely to interfere sometimes with whatever you want to do or achieve.
From my experience, pregnancy was hard for me. It was so good to feel well again after each baby was born, I could get much more done with a newborn, than when I was pregnant.
Overall, may I suggest that your life will be different and mostly delightful, but definitely not over?

Andrea Landaker said...

You can still do stuff, it just requires a lot more planning (scheduling feeding or finding a babysitter, or bringing along lots of stuff, etc). Also, you may not have as much mental energy to expend being creative with stuff (writing, cooking, music, etc).

There's something about having a baby that makes long TV series really enticing - I think we watched Alias with Q, Buffy & Angel with O, and LOST with S... I spent so much mental effort adjusting and calculating and nurturing that by the end of the day, there was nothing left for more active (physically or mentally) recreational pursuits. So, it's probably good to be prepared for that, but of course life isn't over. And babies do grow up - at a rate proportional to how many kids you have and inversely proportional to how much time you spend with the kid (there's an XKCD graph in here somewhere...). In 5 years you'll be getting ready for kindergarten... :-D