(The above is a photo of my ridiculously happy face while holding Zadie
who will not be fully featured on the blog because she is not old enough for Internet fame.)
I spent all day yesterday with Baby Zadie and her mom, Carly. As you may recall, Baby Zadie is the most perfect baby that there ever has been, a fact I can now confirm because she let me hold her lots without crying, laughed at two of my overly rehearsed funny faces, and was obsessed with my sweater (no, seriously. Carly said she'd never been more focused on a single item in her life, albeit brief). Together we played, laughed, napped, peed in our pants (mostly her), watched Ellen (all three of us), and did Tummy Time on the "so-soft mat" with the "woodland creatures" (predominantly me).
Following my lengthy session with this brand new human, I can confidently say that I am both totally capable of and in no way ready to handle raising a child. Here is a list of things that are required to manage care for a (new) child, based on my observations. Below each are thoughts on my own abilities to do each thing.
Hold The Baby In Many Positions Comfortable For Both Baby and Adult: Check
This is harder than you'd imagine, but I think I've got it covered. The baby is sort of amorphously shaped and has little to no control over any of its appendages but somehow still knows exactly how it wants to be positioned at all times of day. Zadie, for example, really likes to "stand up" but has zero leg strength or balance and can barely hold up her head. It is the job of the responsible adult to help her "stand" without giving her whiplash, bruised under arms or a broken leg. I sustained this for some time, but my arms hurt a little today.
Have Something To Say To The Baby At All Times: Uncertain
It is very strange to hold a baby and not say a word to that baby. It is often stranger to come up with myriad things to say to that baby throughout the entire day, and I was only with the baby for one day. I focused on observations about the baby herself ("Hello beauty! Who's a sweet girl? Look at those big eyes!"), observations about the goings on in the room ("What's crazy Ellen doing? Look at the pretty Christmas tree! Is that a kitty cat over there?"), and general commentary on the future of the baby's life ("You are going to be the smartest and the sweetest! Don't you even worry about dating until you're at least 18! Zadie, can you say "I am a Democrat?"). Carly seemed to have zero trouble in this area, so I assume it is something they teach you in birthing class.
Feed The Baby: Oy...
This whole situation presents a MINE field of issues I won't really get into for sake of the male readers of this blog, but things that concern me include how often the feeding happens (ouch); ability to stand/move/function while feeding (double ouch); and the fact that some nurse waltzes into your hospital room with your baby and shoves her on your feeding apparatus for trial-by-fire motherhood shortly after you've been through labor (emotional ouch). Carly assures me that the only real issue with it is the leaking. Yeah? Just some pesky breast leakage? No biggie.
Understand Why The Baby Is Upset, And Fix It: Oof
This seems very tricky, and Baby Zadie only cried twice throughout the entire day (told you she was perfect). Carly says it's not that hard because she's only either hungry, sleepy or dirty in the diaper plus she has this DVD called The Happiest Baby On The Block from some genius doctor who created a fool proof system to calm any screaming newborn. It involves holding them like a football while shaking them and making a whooshing sound in their ear. Apparently it mimics the womb, which I now understand to be the most terrifying place on earth.
Not Bawl Your Eyes Out At Every Special Moment, All Day Long: Damn-near Impossible
Carly doesn't know this, but I got very teary-eyed when I first walked into her apartment and met Zadie because SHE IS A LIFE MY FRIENDS CREATED. I almost cried again when I held her for the first time because THIS PERFECT BABY SMILED AT ME IMMEDIATELY. I barely held it together when Carly successfully put the baby in the baby carrier without assistance because SHE IS AN INCREDIBLE MOTHER. And then when we were having lunch and Zadie was sleeping in the carrier next to our table, she did this little thing with her mouth that looked like she was dreaming about breast feeding, AND IT WAS SO PRECIOUS THAT I ALMOST DIED. And, mind you, my hormones are not recovering from just having a child, which is the single most insane thing your hormones can experience next to puberty.
Maintain Sanity While Planning For The Baby's Entire Upbringing: Impossible.
Things that Carly and her outstanding husband Matt have already decided:
1. Where to live based on what is best for the baby.
2. How to incorporate religion into their life and the life of the baby.
3. Child care for the baby when they are both back at work.
4. Something called "sleep training."
5. Proper baby doctors and proper vaccinations for the baby.
And she is only two months old!! The deciding of things is endless!! And it's not like you can just blow off a few decisions if you get tired of deciding, or like the baby is going to take a pause from the break-neck speed of growing up so you can chill out for a bit. Once that baby is born it is GO time, for the rest of your life.
I called my mom after I left Carly and Baby Zadie (well, after I cried my way down their apartment stairs because I'M NOT GOING TO SEE HER PERFECT FACE FOR ANOTHER WEEK NOW).
- "How are they??" she asked.
- "They're perfect!" I said, and then, "It's so weird though. It's like the exact same Carly, but with this little baby!"
- "Well what did you expect?"
- "I don't know? Perhaps that her entire personality would be wildly shaken by the process of giving birth to a child and the continued, daily stress of raising that child, forever??"
Apparently you just know how to handle being a mom the minute you become a mom. This remains hard for me to fathom, so I'm going to hold out a little bit longer...perhaps until I can successfully love one without bursting into tears. Also, thank GOD Carly went first.