New Mom Diary Vol. IV: The Second Month
By Jackie WeissOur tiny little infant, at her two-month birthday, is not so little anymore. At her doctor's appointment yesterday, Daphne tipped the scales at fourteen pounds, which puts her somewhere above the 97th percentile for weight. I knew she had a larger-than-average appetite. At first glance, much of her bulk appears concentrated in her cheeks, but she also sports not-unsubstantial thighs and a belly that befits a small Buddha.
In the last month she has become considerably more interactive, making eye contact, regarding objects with curiosity, and flashing a beautiful smile at solicitous admirers. She is still waking up during the night, but now only once in an eight-hour period (it used to be every three hours during the night, "like a broken clock", as my husband put it.) I hope that she will start sleeping through the night before the end of my maternity leave, or going back to work is going to be not only emotionally challenging, but physically draining as well.
I am not excited about the prospect of going back to work, particularly since the second month of being a mom has been much more enjoyable than the first month. For one thing, Daphne can amuse herself for longer periods now, allowing me time to shower and dress in the morning, or take care of some paperwork in the afternoon, without having to leave her crying in her crib. Also, we have made friends with some other moms and newborns in the neighborhood, which alleviates the isolation I felt early on.
As it turns out, it's pretty easy to meet new mothers and their babies. During Daphne's sixth week we attended a mother and baby yoga class at a local child birthing center in an effort to make friends. After the class ended I dawdled, taking much longer than necessary to get my sneakers on, strap Daphne into her carriage, review the schedule of upcoming classes. I felt like Marcia Brady on her first day of high school. Finally, one of the mothers approached me and asked if Daphne and I would like to be part of a neighborhood playgroup she was organizing. Score! (I hate yoga -- now I wouldn't have to go back to the class.) We have attended the playgroup for the past three weeks, and even though none of the kids are old enough to interact in the slightest, the mothers all show up diligently, glad for the social outlet. Everyone seems to agree that early motherhood can be a lonely, difficult business, and all attest to having felt unprepared and overwhelmed during their first weeks or months. If you are a new mother and are struggling, you are not the only one.
The major stress in my life at the moment is finding a full time babysitter before my maternity leave runs out. I have been slow to attend to this task, which I have come to think of as analogous to looking for an apartment to rent in Manhattan. The stakes in the search are high, and you must weed out a lot of uninspiring options before you find the right one. All the choices are very expensive. Day care options for infants are limited in our area, and do not offer enough hours to suit our needs. So Greg and I have combed local classifieds for babysitters and have sought referrals from people we know. The fact that the economy is weak means that there are a lot of candidates out there -- we have interviewed around ten already. Our goal is to make an offer to someone by the end of the week.
The relief of having the process done with will likely be mitigated
by the gathering shadow of the return to work. The old adage about
leaving the party while you're still having fun probably applies here.
Every day I feel more that Daphne and I are hitting our stride. Her
schedule is getting predictable enough that we can get our errands and
tasks accomplished, and still have time to see friends and family and
enjoy each other.