Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Back to Work, I love Henry, Jesus loves Me

Well, I went back to work on Monday. I have tried to put on a brave face about the whole thing... it's only 6 weeks until summer, I'm only back part time for the first couple weeks, I have a job I like, and Henry gets to stay home with David, no daycare or babysitters or anything! But, regardless, if I were to be honest I would have to admit that I have been dreading this event since regaining consciousness after the c-section.
It's not been as hard as I feared. Walking out the door in the morning is the hardest part. It's like fighting against a gravitational pull to walk out the door & back the car out of the driveway. But, once I'm at work, the morning flies by. I forgot how much I love my students & how fun it is to be with them. I still miss Henry (a lot), and I'm SURE it will be a whole new challenge once I go back full time, but for now I think we're okay.
Leaving for those few hours each day has made me dwell a little more my relationship with Henry, and how surprised I have been by the emotional effects of becoming a mother.
I am truly taken aback by the way that I love Henry- a love that seems to not be of myself, a love that is outside of what I believe I am independently capable of. I am surprised at how much I long to be selfless in my relationship with him, and how deeply & strongly I feel the desire to stay physically close to him. It's not as if I worry about Henry when he is with David, I know that he will be fine, I simply want to be close to him. It is such a new experience, such a new and different kind of love. Different from the way I have loved my siblings or my parents or my husband.
It has really affected my relationship with God. When I first got married, I felt like as I learned to love David more & more, I learned a lot about how Christ loved me. It became more meaningful to read verses about how Christ loves the church with a passionate, pursuing love. I felt like my desire to be with David, to be close to him, and to be generous toward him gave me a new depth of understanding of God's love for me.
Now that Henry is here, I feel the same way. Up until now, I only understood parent-child love from the child perspective. But now, to think about how much I love Henry, how much I want to be with him and for him, how much I want to take care of him and protect him, it's such a powerful thing to realize that this is only a tiny shimmer of the reflection of the love that God has for me. I feel like for the first time I realize what it must mean that Christ loves me as a Father, and it has added a new depth to my relationship with Him, a new layer to my understanding of God.
Henry is completely helpless, for all practical purposes incapable of doing anything for himself or for me. I don't love him because he does things for me, he doesn't bring me more money or prestige, he doesn't make my life any easier (for sure!) I just love him because I do- the simple fact of his existence brings me so much joy. It is so comforting to think that God loves me the same way- not because I do great things for him, or because I'm a good person, or because I obey him, he loves me because he created me, because I am his child. He loves me in my helplessness, loves me when I am unable to give him anything in return.
David & met with our pastor this week to talk about the theology of infant baptism and to decide if it was something we wanted to do for Henry. Our pastor said something that I though was really beautiful & that I will paraphrase (very, very roughly, he was way more eloquent) to close...
When we baptize infants we are, in a way, reflecting what the Holy Spirit did for us. Just as Henry is unable to understand or claim the promises of Christ for himself, so once were we unable to accept Christ's covenant promises for ourselves. The Holy Spirit interceded for us when we were blind, deaf, and dumb in our sin. We had no agency, it was not of ourselves,we cannot boast. In the same way we step forth in faith and claim those covenant promises for Henry, when he cannot do so for himself. And then, we pray for the Holy Spirit to do His work.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Black Hole of Babyness

Well, the bambino is allllmost 2 months old, so if I want to have any kind of legitimacy on this blog, I need to post something! Henry is doing great- growing in leaps & bounds- he has officially outgrown his newborn size clothes- eating like a champ- smiling at us- sleeping more predictably and continuously- and just generally being cute.
I think we will keep him.

Before I give the people what they want, (pictures) I would like to have one motherly musing- and no complaining- its my blog, I can do what I want.

Musing: Before Henry arrived, I had big plans for my weeks of maternity leave. Babies sleep a lot, and I would relish the extra time at home and get lots of projects- big & small- going around the house. I would catch up on email, do some deep cleaning, try out some new recipes, organize my closet, make the calls & plans for the bathroom remodel, etc. All while recovering from childbirth, bonding with my new baby, and getting the hang of mothering.
I was, and am, an idiot.
The first few weeks of Henry's life, I only had 2 goals every day: take a shower and leave the house. It could be a 5 minute shower, and a walk around the back yard, but both of those things were absolutely necessary to preserving my sanity. Please know, that I do know how ridiculous this sounds- what sane person would NOT do those things every day? In fact for most people, both of those things are accomplished within the first hour or two of waking.
But, shamefully, there were some days where I failed in not just one goal, but both.
How was this possible?!?! How could one teenytiny person use up so much of my time and energy? Just a few months ago, I was keeping him alive and happy inside my tummy with virtually no extra effort on my part. Not only was I not getting any projects done (again, idiot) but I was barely keeping myself afloat in a sea of laundry, diapers, and feedings.
Understandably, this began to make me feel like a failure.
Until, one day, in frustration, I was trying to explain to a non-mommy friend what I was doing all day at home, and how little Henry was like a black hole of babyness, sucking up all the time and resources that came within his gravitational pull. During the conversation I did a little 'mommy math.' Here is the breakdown of how I was spending my time every day:
Feeding baby about 9-10 times a day, for about 30 minutes = 6 hours
Diaper changes & burping after every feeding, 15 minutes =2.5 hours
Getting baby swaddled & snuggled back to sleep after every feeding, 15 minutes = 2.5 hours
Bathing & dressing baby= .5 hours
Doing the laundry that baby produces & the absolutely necessary daytime chores, ie making & eating food, washing dishes, taking out trash= 2 hours
Staring at baby, talking about baby, talking to baby, wondering if baby is okay, calling mom to ask she thinks baby is okay, all done ad nauseum = 3 hours
Sleeping = 6 hours (broken up into teeny tiny itty bitty bits)

We have now reached a grand total of 22.5 hours.
Allow me to complete the math for you, this leaves 1.5 hours for any other optional activities. And I haven't even mentioned the doctors visits, or comforting Henry if he's fussy, or spending time with my husband- you remember, that person I made the baby with? Yes, I had to work to remember too. AND, spending time with my sweet puppy, who also is desperate for quality time!
Anyway doing this math has helped me to not feel like a giant failure for not being able to care for baby and do everything else. I know there are people who can do this new baby thing with WAAAAY more grace & competence, than me, but maybe I will catch up some day. Besides, my lack of time, energy, and productivity, is mollified by one thing thatI have failed to mention: although Henry is a bit of a black hole, he is the most beautiful black hole you have ever laid eyes on.

For those of you who are worried for my sanity, things are much smoother these days. Henry has moved from feeding 10 times a day to 7, which may not sound like a big difference, but trust me, it is huge! There is more time, and I am getting better at managing it.

For those of you who are wondering where I am & why you haven't seen or heard from me- I blame the black hole of babyness which is sucking up all my time.

For those of you who are wondering "Who is this person who says things like 'mommy math' and can't manage to take a shower?" "Where is my friend who has the ability to talk about lots of interesting things- not just the baby?" I don't know. I think she got sucked into the black hole of babyness. I am hoping to rescue her soon.

Now, some extremely adorable pictures (and one video!) of the black hole himself...

Sometimes Henry thinks he's drowning...