Monday, May 17, 2010

Pieces of the Puzzles

This month marks the end of an era. We've been watching LOST since the third trimester of my pregnancy. Thanks to Netflix and Hulu, we crammed six entire seasons into six months. I think we watched more than one whole season the week I was in labor. Now that we are all caught up and a week away from the final episode ever, I am not as sad as I expected to be. For one, despite the fact that I watched six years worth of a show in six months, I am not really a big television person. I am sure I will soon forget all about LOST. Second, I am a very big fan of knowing when to quit. The fact that the makers of LOST are ending the show before it starts to really suck and gets canceled wins my admiration. I've been wondering why Robert Smith didn't have the good sense to quit making music after Wish in 1992. Not that it's all been horrible since then, but a lot of it has. He should take a page out of LOST's book. Come to think of it, so should a lot of musicians. Anyway, I like LOST. Over the seasons I have favored different characters and have changed my mind about things a half a dozen times. I started out hating Sawyer but now I think he's my favorite. I hated Jin at first for being a sexist jerk and then loved him for how he loved his wife but then was furious that he willingly orphaned their daughter by staying with Sun in the sub so I hated him again. And so on. Deep stuff, this.

The one thing about LOST that has really annoyed me is the ridiculous way women give birth on that island. Now that I have experienced labor and delivery I am much less tolerant of television births. And on LOST it's even sillier than on other shows. Maybe it's just me, but I'm pretty sure that full-term pregnant women don't really run around in the jungle the way two women have on this show. I know, poetic license and willing suspension of disbelief. But it's hard. There they are, running around, going about their business of being stranded on an island. They have no shoes, it's hot and humid, they haven't taken a shower in forever, and they are not drinking water. Not peeing every two minutes. Not having Braxton-Hicks. Not out of breath. Then they suddenly gasp and get a strange look on their face and say very calmly, "It's time. The baby's coming!" And they grunt and they hike up their skirt and lie on their back and out pops a baby. Or two. And they're clean! Seriously, it was not that easy for me and I wasn't in the jungle and I had shoes and all the water I wanted. First of all, how do they know that "it's time"? Maybe I was the only woman in the world to go into labor and have it get worse, and better, and worse, and better for so long that even when the contractions were five minutes apart I wasn't really sure I was even in labor (I was) but I definitely did not get a strange look and suddenly go "here she comes!" and then lie down on my back and pop her out. As if.

So now when I see stuff like this I want to turn it off. Don't television writers have kids? I know they do because I went to school with one of the writers of LOST and I know for a fact that he has two girls. I guess maybe this whole thing didn't annoy his wife the way it did me. Anyway. I hope no more babies get born on that island. Only two more episodes left, so thankfully it's pretty unlikely.

So, Thora. She is a regular baby now. She's outgrowing her clothes faster than I ever could have imagined. She's tall (25 in) and chunky (15 lbs!) and so happy. She plays now. She is a lot more fun now, because she reacts to people and things and toys and her reflection. She recognizes people and objects. She reaches for things (and best of all, she reaches for me). And she lets me put sunglasses on her, raising the cuteness factor to an all-time high.

It's kind of interesting how easy it is to find a common philosophical thread in Thora's life, Johnny's life, and mine. You wouldn't think there would be that much that a three month old baby, a thirty-one year old student and soon-to-be stay-at-home-dad and a thirty-*cough*-year-old control freak have in common. But there is. Lately, this family is all about fitting puzzle pieces together.

Thora is working hardest at this. The most exciting puzzle piece of all is her thumb, which most of the time she still can't seem to locate. She can, however, cram almost her whole hand into her mouth. And she does, all the time. Her hands are always wet with drool, which means I am also always wet with drool. I wash her hands whenever I remember to, but that doesn't stop the drool from becoming icky black stuff that accumulates in the creases of her palms and between her fingers from them being so wet all the time. Also, she shoves her appendages in her mouth with such force that I worry she will scratch her gums or the roof of her mouth with her razor sharp claws that seem to get sharper every time I attempt to clip them, but so far she hasn't. She can also grab her Haba ring rattle, or Sophie the giraffe, and shove them into her mouth too. But if she loses her grip, she becomes hysterical. Devastated. It's so sad, because now she cries with tears. They always get me. The quivering lower lip is still the worst though. I can't bear it. So inevitably, I stop walking or whatever I'm doing and lean over to readjust Sophie, or the ring, or whatever it is. I try to pry her thumb from her fist and slide it into her mouth. And she gets it! For a second she is happy.

Then whatever it is slides slowly back out of her mouth...

And then she is frustrated once again.

Then eventually she either gets in back in (see above) or falls asleep.

This goes on all day long, even during bedtime. That's the worst. She nurses and drifts off as I read to her or sing to her, stroking her face, her head. She is asleep, totally asleep I tell you, and as I back away and out of the room she will sleepily try to put her thumb in her mouth and miss, instead whacking herself in the face. Then she brings both hands to her face, rubs her eyes and is wide awake again. We do this as many as a half dozen times a night now, before she gives up and finally stays asleep.

Johnny's puzzle pieces are much more literal. Since neither Thora nor I are any good with a drill, Johnny is handyman-by-default. And poor him, too, since he isn't much handier than I am and he is subject to my pointing and directing and telling him exactly how to do that which I could not possibly do myself. Luckily my sister-in-law's boyfriend - who is in some kind of construction union and weighs about 250 pounds of solid muscle - just happened to be chez nous when we were hanging a picture on a particularly challenging wall. He fixed it for us while we stood with mouths open, very impressed, and then after choruses of "No pressure! But it really would be soooo helpful!" he very kindly volunteered to put up the shower basket things (you know, that hold shampoo and whatever). We just happened to have purchased the special drill bits you need to drill into bathroom tile a half an hour before he arrived, imagine that!

Anyway, even with the baskets and the picture taken care of, there was still more work to be done but no one else to do it. Johnny, angel that he is, is almost always eager to please me, so he dutifully gets out the drill and hangs shelving whenever I ask. Only recently, though, has he learned that hanging things forever on your brand new walls goes much better when you measure stuff beforehand. He has measured so much that he has misplaced the measuring tape! This week we have been (I mean, he has been) hanging the kind of shelving that you hang from the back. That means you drill your holes, screw in your mollies, and then you stick your shelves on the screws. So basically if you haven't measured carefully, the little holes on the backs of your shelves that you cannot see when you're doing this simply will not fit and then you have to pull everything out and start again. Puzzle pieces, see? This might have been the wrong week to hang these things because Johnny's other project for the week is to work on not swearing. I have permission to yell ZAP and poke him whenever he swears. You can imagine that I am hoarse from zapping after all this, but the shelves are hung and they really look great. Come over and see!

As for me. A little like Thora is trying to fit her whole hand in her mouth and there's just no way it will fit, I am trying to cram everything into my life. There is no way to do this without giving stuff up. I want to be with Thora and Johnny every waking second. Yet I am also back at work and I want to be there as well. I am supposedly working half-time but that is literally impossible to do. Especially when I hear ten times a day "Are you back?" and I say yes and start telling them about how I'm supposedly working half-time and explain that we are sharing childcare responsibilities and I'm transitioning back and they're already off somewhere else, having only heard "Yes." Then I feel guilty. I really am only back for now to manage my team and to help with big ticket stuff. But it's literally impossible to pick and choose what I am available for and I honestly love my job so much that I want to succeed and reply to everything and be available for every meeting and read every draft of every document sent my way. This means I spend half my time at work with a baby strapped to my chest because I am not saying no often enough and I am coming into our offices even on days I should be working from home or not working at all. I need to delegate more, huh?

But again, I love my job. I would do it for free, I swear, I love it that much. And no one has complained about Thora and Thora hasn't complained either so it all works out.

That's the biggest puzzle piece that is not quite fitting yet, but there are others like seeing friends, working out, sleeping. Answering emails, reading, housework. I am just not getting it all in there the way I would like to. I have so much that I want to do once Thora is asleep for the night that I stay awake doing it until I can't keep my eyes open another second, and then she's awake before I know it, totally refreshed and smiling and chatting and ready to start her day. At six am. People warned me that I would have to let go of a lot of things. Like housework. But I can't! My FlyLady habits won't let me. Also, I read that new parents don't get to see many friends regularly for months if not years. And a friend (whom I do see) told me it took her a year to finish the first novel she tried to read after her first baby was born. I am in the middle of reading Steinbeck's East of Eden and a great historical novel (Strivers Row by Kevin Baker) and I am only 100 or so pages in to each and I have been since February. That's so annoying! While I have really let go of my Type-A-ness with regards to my baby and my parenting, I really cannot do it for everything else. I can't become disorganized at work. I hate it when the house is a mess. I can't sleep when there are things still on my day's to-do list. My fingers itch when there are unread messages on my Blackberry and I feel guilty when I don't reply to emails within 24 hours. I have gotten four or five notices from the library that books I requested are in and I have also gotten four or five notices from the library that my previous notices have expired and they're releasing my hold on the books. In my attempt to be perfect at everything, I am succeeding at nothing.

But no more! I am turning over a new leaf. What have I done now three days in a row? Napped. I have napped deliciously, curled up around my baby when she lies down with me to nurse and nap in the afternoon. I haven't gotten a blessed thing done but at least I am rested. And when she is sleeping against me and I feel her breath on my cheek I am able to stop. I am released from all my deadlines because that is the best reminder that nothing matters more than this child. The rest I can do later.


  1. You are succeeding at *being,* with grace and aplomb, and that is not only enough, it is everything.

  2. I loved that last paragraph very lyrical.
    she is so cute! so sweet.
    I have to get the giraffe teether now. plus how do you fit in new photos on your blog?
    I just wanted ot know for my blog.

    shes so beautiful Aimee!

  3. Im so bad.. now that they have cancelled Lost I can finally restart watching it. I stopped because it got too complex and I missed too many episodes.
    I only watch cancelled shows usually.
    except Glee which I like with a guilty pleasure and scrubs which used to be hysterical. Also mindless daytime tv like judge judy where I can sit and say to myself are these people for real?!

  4. She is just so full of personality and so so so cute. Soon, you'll pick the housework you need to do and the stuff that can wait. Books are now for ipods. Also, there's this:

    Om nom nom?


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