Week 4: The Honeymoon's Over, Kid.

For the record, I am no less in love with this little snugglebug. If anything, our bond is feeling less like a fling and more like the beginnings of a lifelong love affair. Even big brother Marcel has accepted baby as part of the family, and the fleeting moments when the four of us can come together peacefully are truly perfect. It's exciting to anticipate the coming years as a family of four.

And yet.

Still firmly in the trenches of newborn care and with little relief in sight -- I read recently that most babies don't attain a reliable 5-hour stretch of night sleep until around 4 months -- I am feeling the toll of exhaustion and isolation. Worst of all, it's crippling my capacity to relish the present.

One can only endure so many nights of shushing and rocking and walking miles in loops around the house, then placing baby in his bassinet with the paranoid caution of an Edgar Allen Poe character, only to have said baby grunt and wriggle himself back awake in a matter of minutes, before one goes un poco loco (the Coco soundtrack is on heavy rotation around here). I can feel my brain melting like a dead car battery, currents of thought shrivelling into lame neural threads.

Fun fact: the CIA considers sleep deprivation exceeding 48 hours an "enhanced interrogation technique." Welcome to parenthood, inmates!

Baby Auguste actually slept relatively well during his first week, but I guess he was just extra-fatigued from being thrust into existence. He still sleeps a lot overall -- but in a sort of round-the-clock, napping-and-waking, maybe-I'll-stay-asleep-for-3-hours-or-maybe-just-10-minutes kind of way. He is, after all, a newborn baby. I know this is pretty much par for the course. But the novelty of nighttime mommy-and-me dates of indeterminate length has worn off.

Four weeks also seems to be when the new baby welcome wagon grinds to a halt. Visitors have tapered off, and the dreaded social isolation of new motherhood has officially set in. I knew from my first postpartum experience that this was coming, and so I programmed in as much adult companionship as possible. I'm even facilitating a weekly new parent support group, Piko Pals. But most of my friends are still busy with their day jobs and the freewheeling follies of pre-parent life, so here I sit, an accidental recluse, feeling mushy in body and spirit. And yes, yes, also grateful to have this miraculous teeny human to nurture and observe!!! So very #Blessed. But like Ariel gazing wistfully skyward, I wanna be where the people are...out of the sea/wish I could be/part of that woooorld.

This feels like the opposite of "mindful parenting," because I've lost a bit of my mind.

And so I tap out overenthusiastic text messages with my free hand, not noticing that the baby has unlatched and there is now milk dribbling down his face. I tune in at all hours to NPR, to podcasts, my mommy-version of pacifying white noise. I refresh social media feeds incessantly. I read the same paragraph in a book three times, then give up. I fantasize about having a TV, which I would most certainly abuse. I fantasize about having a sister or a mom whom I could be slobby in front of but still boss around. I consume countless snack-meals a day, forgetting what it is to eat out of hunger and not boredom. This feels like the opposite of "mindful parenting," because I've lost a bit of my mind.

Here is where I am supposed to jolt back to centeredness, to gratitude, the sound of a Tibetan singing bowl ringing in the background. I am supposed to let go of the past and future and instead juice the sweet nectar of the present, the only moment that is real. It is a mind shift that goes against all the social conditioning telling us that we are our histories, we are our ambitions, we are our reflection and our striving. I look at my baby; he has no sense of time, no identity projected before or after, just the sensations and essence of the present. Soon enough he will grow into a time-bound person like the rest of us, and I will lose this intimate window into an entirely other way of being. For this brief season of life, perhaps I should surrender, and simply let him be the teacher.

But first, coffee.


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