I have started and failed to finish tons of posts between this one and my last, but that’s what life is like. I have started to adjust much better to the postpartum life. The shock of not being pregnant has worn off a little, and the hormones have calmed themselves. That’s why I’m so glad I wrote about what the immediate postpartum stage felt like as it was happening. It occurs in that hazy period right after the birth, and it’s too easy to forget those relatively fleeting feelings. But they are real.
Baby J has a nickname around here. After he was born, a lot of people asked us what we would call him. I found this question bewildering. I always answered, “Um, his name?” That’s why we named him what we did. So that we could call him that. Regardless, our kids have had various nicknames over the years. The Big One started out being called Bubbaloupitous, then a shortened version of her name, before settling into her real, full name, which is incredibly appropriate for her. We do also actually call her Big One as well.
The middle kid was, and still is, called Boo. I don’t know why. She was just called that, and it stuck. Real people, like teachers and friends, call her by her name. But at home, she’s Boo.
The next kid is, embarrassingly, called Fatty. He was such a fat baby, with such delicious little rolls, that we called him either Fatty or Fat Thing as a term of endearment. He is now nine, and not fat at all. And yet, if you hang around our house long enough, you will hear one parent or the other yell, “Fatty! It’s time to set the table. Go get your sisters.” He says he doesn’t mind, but could we please not call him that at school. This seems like a reasonable compromise.
The baby, now, is called Bumby. I have no idea why. I just called him that one day, and my wife picked him up and said, “I’m Bumby, dammit.” Apparently this comes from an Eddie Murphy SNL skit, where Eddie Murphy plays Gumby, although the skit is weirdly absent from YouTube. I cracked up when she said it, and the name stuck. So now he’s Bumby. I am betting this won’t hang around past babyhood, but still. It’s cute. It’s also apparently what Ernest Hemmingway called his first son. So it’s cute and literary.
If I had been writing this on Friday, I would have said that we hit a huge sleeping breakthrough right at six weeks. After weeks of waking to eat every 2-3 hours, Bumby slept for 4 hours and 45 minutes in a row. I felt like a new woman. He then did it again the next night, so I really thought we were onto something. No. He’s done with that. Last night he was up eating every two hours again. Since it takes him 30-45 minutes to eat, we are looking at 90 minutes of consecutive sleep, at MOST. So that sucked. He’s also gotten harder to settle at night. During the day he eats and sleeps easily and well, and even let’s me set him down to nap sometimes. At night, he is wild, thrashing around, arching his back, refusing to calm down and nurse like a normal human but wailing if he is doing anything other than nursing, and instantly waking unless he is physically on top of me. He wants to nurse for comfort, I think, but in reality his belly is a little overfull, so it’s not all that comfortable. He finds a pacifier to be some kind of hoax (where is the milk?!?!) and rejects it vehemently.
Often times, when I am up for middle of the night nursing sessions, I am kept up after Bumby falls back to sleep wondering what to do with myself once my maternity leave is over. I have nearly 6 months of paid and unpaid leave, which I realize is a huge luxury in the US. I want to sob at the thought of leaving Bumby and going back to work all day. I also hate the thought of giving up my legal career just when things are getting interesting. My job isn’t particularly conducive to part time work (meaning I would be staffed on only boring projects, because all the interesting work is also a really intense time commitment), and anyway we have an awkward childcare situation because my mother in law watches the big kids after school, but has said that taking the baby on a full time basis is too much for her. I’m sure we can work the childcare thing out, but it will be annoying and complicated and isn’t something I want to deal with just to then find that going back to work is actually terrible and I want to stay home anyway. And of course, money. I have told myself I won’t worry about this until 4 months have gone by, but our fears and worries have a way of finding us in the small hours of the morning, even if we have told them they are unwelcome for another 2 months at least.
And finally, I think about how many women have to go back to work now, after just six weeks. Holy shit. That seems like a really bad plan for all parties.
And now, keeping up with tradition, a baby bump selfie. Only now my bump has a head and feet.