Doing It Myself (But Not Really)

There have been some big developments recently. Last weekend was a big weekend in fact, but Sunday was especially noteworthy. I had been home alone at that point for nine days in a row, and it has been intense and challenging.

One thing that happened was that I carved out enough time to knit four rows of a baby blanket that I started making soon after I learned that I was pregnant. I swear it will be finished before his one year birthday. It has to be or it won't be big enough to cover him after it's finished. Even a few rows a day at this point will get me there.

Another big event was when I took the baby for a walk in the stroller and we entered a coffee house so I could buy some tea and a croissant. He did not cry. He cried prior to our arrival and he cried soon after our departure, but I blame the unrelenting Texas heat for that. I give the baby credit for allowing me to get my treats without interfering with the quiet environment enjoyed by the other patrons.

Last weekend I also bathed the baby by myself, with no other person present in the house. This also probably sounds insignificant unless you have ever held a newborn and understand how unpredictably their heads and limbs thrash about. He is getting stronger by the hour and and extremely close to being able to hold his head up, but holding him in water without backup hands still intimidates me.

Last weekend I also showered uninterrupted, and even used a blow dryer, with no other adult present. This time the credit goes to the MamaRoo bouncing chair. Really "bouncing" is not really an accurate depiction of what this thing does. Babies apparently love, in fact crave, motion. This chair offers five types of motion, approximating the movements of the ocean, a kangaroo, a tree swing, the car, or a rocker. There are also built in white noise options, or even the possibility of plugging your music device. It has five speeds, and while I am still experimenting, yesterday the lowest speed of the tree swing bought the baby a blissful nap and bought me the grown-up bliss of a complete shower with a little bonus time for laundry.

Unbelievably, I also turned on the oven that day and used it to prepare some food for dinner. I even sat down at the table to eat that dinner, although dinner did not turn out to be one continuous event. MamaRoo came through again here, allowing me to finish my interrupted dinner before turning my attention back to the baby.

These things, and even a few others, happened for a few reasons. One, we are starting to find our rhythm and the baby is getting bigger and stronger. Both myself and the baby are getting the hang of our new existence. Two, and more significantly, for two nights in a row, the baby slept at night for five hours continuously. That may have been some sort of illusion on his part, some kind of baby mirage, because it hasn't happened again since. When I started writing this post a few days ago, I was jubilant from the effect of semi-normal sleep and mild productivity. This morning, on the heels of a brutal night and a rough 24 hours prior to that, it sounds impossible that I will ever feel rested and/or productive again or even that last weekend actually happened to me.

Regardless, these milestones were possible because I'm not actually doing all this by myself. I may be home alone technically, but I have had generous help at some key moments. As I mentioned before, my mom was here for a crucial stretch right as my husband left and as the baby was at the height of his struggle to resist continuous sleep.

After my mom left, I struggled mightily in the days that followed, but friends did not let me lose heart, stopping by with help, encouragement and/or edible treats. Ultimately, a couple we are friends with offered to not just babysit the baby, but to take him to their house, so that I had the experience of my house, but quiet, in which I could nap or do things, or both. I was unbelievably excited, until I packed his diaper bag, at which point I felt strange and guilty. When he left I even felt sad. My eyes filled up briefly but then dried quickly as they drove away; I recovered quickly and then spent a wonderful four hours doing normal things and taking an amazing nap.

When he was returned to me, We were both refreshed and calm, and I was ready, even excited to see him, even though only a few hours had passed. I am very lucky, and that night was the first night that he slept five hours. It felt like some kind of turning point, because when I woke up on Saturday, I felt like me again. The old me, the one that wanted to make things in my studio and that didn't mind being home alone sometimes.

In the beginning of all this, I wanted to do a lot of baby-related things myself. I wanted to knit the blanket. I planned to knit some animals for the mobile over the crib. I got half-way through making a maternity dress to wear to my shower and had plans to make several more. I should have made some burp cloths (just fancy pieces of fabric, really) and a nursing cover (again, a fancy piece of fabric). Instead, everything happened in whirlwind fashion all year, and I made almost nothing for myself or for the baby. I bought lots of things that I'm not sure will ever have a second life (at least at our house), and some things that proved wasteful or unnecessary, because I was had to rush or because I didn't fully understand what I needed.

But, at least this blanket will get done. I swear it will. And maybe events caused a temporary drop in my crafty output and a lull in my efforts at consuming sustainably. But on the other hand, isn’t it amazing and lucky that I don't have to do everything myself all the time?