one! year! old!
from my survival in the first year of the wilderness, here is the opposite of an FAQ- in that no one has ever asked me these questions and my answers are both unsolicited and unhelpful.
does it get better?
google probably thought i was a gay teenager for one intense month in 2016 because i was searching the question nearly every waking minute of my postpartum life. no amount of reading blogs about ppd could've prepared me for the shock, fragility, and hopelessness of the first two weeks. a year out and far, far away from that glass cage, i still remember exactly how the burnished bronze light of sunset through the nursery blinds fell across my chest like a weight, trapped me like a panicking animal, filled me with a sunday night dread and sadness. i thought it would never happen to me- no history of mental illness, no issues with hormonal mood swings, surrounded with support from loving family and friends. but neurotransmitters are real and they fucked me up.
it takes a couple of weeks if you're reeling hard from the baby blues- but longer if it evolves to ppd. it's okay to cry through every roll of toilet paper in your house. it's okay to mourn for your former life. it's okay to not immediately love your baby. just know that the squall will pass, and weeks will rapidly feel like milliseconds in due time. your new normal might actually just feel a lot like your old normal, except with ugly nursing bras. ask for help- from your partner, your parents, your friends who have been through it, your mom groups, your physician. just know it's not hopeless, no matter how bleak and unrecognizable things feel. that little tomato-faced catalyst will become your best buddy. it gets better. you get better.
how much baby stuff do i really need?
as it turns out, not a lot. we were blessed with an average baby with average constitution and habits, so i can probably count on one hand the supplies we use daily at the one year mark. i wrote this entry after the first three months, but the usefulness of those supplies waned over time and we're down to the basics.
i'm not going to proselytize about how baby products exist for parental convenience. when your infant is magenta from screaming and your dogs are licking breastmilk off your calves and you still have to show up at the office tomorrow and pretend to be a human being- you will take any contraption available at any cost to mitigate the pain of being alive.
james is drinking whole milk and water well from his sippy cup, so we'll soon be bidding farewell to the babybrezza, orb bottle warmer, and comotomo bottles. ian might even finally give up the breastfeeding pillow that he still uses despite not nursing james and not actually needing it for anything. we are well on our way to becoming a fully decluttered family with only an exhaustive collection of every zara baby apparel item ever created.
special shoutout to the retired but incredibly useful: inglesina fast dining chair (7 months of use, lots of compliments at restaurants), cybex aton q infant car seat (6 months of use, survived a car accident), the and all the white wine selections offered by my local kroger.
what about baby toys?
i don't know. james prefers to use a bottle of pinto bean seasoning as his favorite rattle.
should we do baby-led weaning?
i read a lot about starting solids. more than i read my textbooks during a semester of graduate school. there are a lot of schools of thought here, and arguments for baby-led weaning vs homemade purees vs directly depositing your carefully masticated food directly and lovingly into your baby's mouth probably. i chose a balanced approach- a selection of finely curated squeeze pouches for daycare (read: purchased on amazon), and letting james eat whatever we eat at home & restaurants. as a result, he has a voracious appetite for bread, eggs, and crunchy vegetables and also i have stressed exactly 0% about his nutrition. we all win, especially those opportunistic bad dogs.
what does it feel like to love a baby?
i definitely googled this line of questioning more than once, because i am mentally whack and incapable of trusting the most basic of human instincts. from the outset, it seemed like an insurmountable task. i could barely even hold him properly, let alone love and cherish him infinitely and unconditionally. i don't even know him, i thought.
but i know him now. i know that he lights up like no one else in the world when he sees me in the mornings, his face breaking into the most gleeful smile i've ever witnessed. i know that my heart swells with pride when i see him wobble across the entire length of a room, leading with his belly. i know that he likes to chase the vacuum cleaner, and purposefully slips around dramatically when i mop the floors. i know him better than anyone (except ian), and the pleasure of this ongoing discovery is like nothing else i've ever experienced.
it's even better than petting an especially cute dog.