Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Birth Control

Yesterday while shuffling through papers for Olivia's immunization records, I found a stack of the activity logs we kept from her first two months out of my belly.  SLB designed them based on the Swedish Hospital chart we took home with the baby.  Each day is represented by a chart with a space for times, meals, pee diapers, and poo diapers.  We found these invaluable when Livy was little and sickly and we were taking care of her under the direst conditions of sleep deprivation.  Writing down every successful feed and every dirty diaper was comforting before she started thriving and blossomed into the hearty lass she is today.  And reading these logs now is a sharp reminder of how difficult it can be to take care of a newborn.

7/16/09, 3 days old.  Leaving the bed is for losers without newborns or major surgery.

For example, on July 14th, the second day of her life, something (diaper change, feeding, or both) was going on with Livy at 1:00, 4:30, 4:50, 6:00, 10:15, 11:30, 3:00, 4:05, 5:00, 5:15, 6:45, 7:30, 9:00, 9:40, and that's before she really started eating.  Also, that chart indicates only the bare bones of infant care (food in and food out) and doesn't include things like rocking her, rewrapping her swaddle, or begging her to shut her face so that we could sleep.  Don't think it got any better once she started chowing down and bulking up.  On August 22, the last day for which we have a chart, she required basic care at 1:15, 4:00, 6:00, 9:45, 10:30, 12:30, 3:30, 4:15, 4:45, 5:45, 7:00, and 10:20.  The scariest part of this whole thing in hindsight is that we had an easy baby, too.  At least Livy was generally content during the breaks between basic care.  Imagining that the interstices between entries could have contained wild, frantic screaming makes me wonder how the parents of needier babies survived their children's infancy.  It also makes me want to buy those parents stiff drinks and stoically salute them like we're veterans of the same war. 

Also interesting are my semi-coherent notes from those days, such as the 3:40 am note on July 31 that says "Bellybutton [sic] off!" or the mark in a particular #2 column that is an infinity sign with an exclamation point behind it.  At least I kept my sense of humor if not my memory of a lot of those events.  In fact, I can only remember twice when I felt overwhelmed by the experience of being a new parent, and the rest of the time I kind of enjoyed it.  I was tired, but I was happy.  This could easily be the result of maternal hormones, sleep deprivation induced memory loss, or looking at the past through Percocet-colored lenses, but I think the answer is far, far schmoopier than that.  I think I've forgotten the pain of those early days because their intensity bleaches to transparency in comparison with Livy's awesomeness.  She's so rad that she made me function with a degree of radness I hadn't known was possible.  It's as if her every dissatisfied wail was a rallying cry.  "Come on, Mama!  Leap up to my level and care for me in the impeccable manner that I deserve!  Also, wipe my butt!"  And I did, readers.  I did.  At least, I hope I did (the impeccable part, not the butt part.  The butt part I most certainly remember doing.).  We'll leave that for Livy's future therapist to decide.

8/25/10.  The literate nudist and her fancy hair.  TOTALLY worth every brain cell lost to lack of sleep in the past 14 months.

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