Better Ask A Breeder!

Adrianna writes: “How horribly or wonderfully has having a baby(ies) affected your marriage? Do you lovingly look at your baby and then look at your husband and think “We made that beautiful creature” or do you look at your husband while he sleeps and you are awake with the newborn and want to smother him? Or both? I’m nervous!”

…Yes!

Okay, so are you all familiar with the movie Jaws? Particularly the end where Richard Dreyfuss and Sheriff Brody have just fought off the clutches of the insane killer shark and amidst the carnage they cleave together despite not really liking each other much to kick their tiny-ass flotation device back to shore because without each other they’ll drown?

It’s a little like that.

Well, not really. I actually don’t know what it’s like because I don’t remember much. Sleeplessness will do that to a person. Like any forever-life-altering bomb you drop into your life, there’s going to be an adjustment period. I do remember a few incidents that may help put it into perspective:

1. The week after Maggie was born, Tom heard her cry in the night. While I nursed, he picked up a pillow, gently cradled it to his chest, and patted the pillow’s feathery bottom and sleep-walked all over the room whispering comforting nothings.

2. There was one point where I was so toasted and felt so awful about my ability to be a patient mother and Tom’s ability to be the partner I needed–I hasten to emphasize that it was not him but that it was because I didn’t know WHAT I needed at that point or even which end was up–that I spent about an hour at 3am mentally concocting a plan to drain half of our savings and fly to Bismark, North Dakota (which I had just read was experiencing an employment boom) and abandon them both without a forwarding address. That isn’t a joke. For that hour, I was absolutely dead serious. I’ve only told one other person that. But now you know.

3. Sharing a look of horror with Tom over the doctor’s exam table as the pediatrician fixed the results of a bottle of formula administered at the hospital that caused Maggie a bout of constipation. Have you ever seen the Play-Doh Factory in use? *shudder* But that’s the kind of crap (erm, literally) that you bond over in those first weeks. Nobody is going to discuss your baby’s crap quite as enthusiastically as the person from whom your child received half its genes.

4. And the most important memory, a moment that if I am lucid when I approach death I will reach for and hold onto as hard as I can: lying on my side in bed in a little pool of sunshine, nursing a perfectly content newborn baby on one side with my husband asleep and spooning me on the other.

So…you’re going to laugh AT your partner. You are going to hate them and yourself and wish you could run away. You are going to laugh WITH your partner. But in the end, if you work together, you’re going to get the sunshine. And probably a good dose of Play-Doh crap.

One very important note to add: remember that you trust your partner. You trust and love your friends. If you are truly despairing, REACH OUT TO THEM and let them help you through it. Post-partum depression is nothing to fool with. Conversely, if you feel like everyone else has changed and you’re the only normal one but everyone else is worried about you…remember that you trust them. Listen to what they say. Take their concerns seriously. The only thing worse than knowing you need help and not getting it is ignoring everyone who cares enough about you to say “We love you and you need help.”

New Feature: Better Ask A Breeder!

Somehow Tom has found himself embroiled in several conversations over the past two weeks with childless folks who are curious about the logistics of family and life with kids. We’re not sure if this curiosity stems from the desire to become parents themselves or if it’s the same instinct that draws people to the circus freakshow, but the questions led me to ask Tom: “What is this? ‘Better ask a breeder’ week?”

Another friend suggested that might be good blog fodder, so here we are! Submit your questions in the comments and as a breeder of one-and-some, I can try to answer.

This week’s question comes from one of Tom’s coworkers: “Just what do you get a family for a second baby, anyway? They already have everything, right?”

The answer to this one depends. If you’re local, the answer is food. The answer is ALWAYS food. Ask if the family has any dietary restrictions or favorite freezable recipes and hook their shit up with a few frozen lasagnas. Use disposable pans from the grocery store so they don’t have to clean or return anything. They’re going to be up to their ears in navigating laundry, feedings, sleeplessness, sibling whatever, and the idea of going to the stove for yet another frozen pizza just might make them cry. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, FEED THEM. It will save them from killing each other in a fit of hateful exhaustion and feeding off the bodies.

If you aren’t local, start with clothes. When was their first child born? If you have a family where the older child was a girl born in the winter and they’re due to have a son in mid-June, boyfriend is going to need some 0-3 month shorts and a festive Hawaiian shirt or two. Likewise, the best gifts I’ve received for 2.0 are hand-me-downs from friends and family who’ve had winter babies so Ninja Baby The Second won’t freeze to death wearing its Hawaiian-born sister’s sunsuits.

Or, y’know, you could ask if they have an Amazon wishlist or if they need anything specific. Breeders may have taken leave of their senses but we do usually speak with our human tongues.