My Day of Reckoning

I knew this day would come.  It was only a matter of time.  It was when, not if.  I knew that I would have my day of reckoning and I would have to face my worst fear.  That day arrived recently, later than I thought it would, but still earlier than I would have liked.

See, Rex had a virus thingy that Kept. Coming. Back. bringing with it a pesky low grade fever that did not appear to bother him in the slightest but bothered day care because sick babies don’t belong at day care.  It was never a scary illness, it was the Virus du Jour making its rounds of all the kids and he managed to catch it.

It was this illness that brought me face to face with my greatest fear: staying home with Rex all day. By myself.  The panic that I felt welling up inside me that Thursday night when I took his temperature, watching that damn thermometer go up like  Chris Farley’s blood pressure rating, was similar to the feeling when I realized that I had hit a bicyclist with my car back in law school.  It was the panic that I felt when I realized that our first baby had died.  In other words, it was gut-wrenching, breath-sucking panic.  It made my teeth hurt.

How is it possible that I have never spent an entire day at home with my baby by  myself?  Well, even during maternity leave, I had someone there at least part of the time, either my mom or my mother in law or my wonderful friend.  And then, and now, he is in day care.  And, Mr. X is home on the weekends, so poof, all seven days of the week accounted for.

The day for me to face the fear had come.  And, all I could see stretching before me was the endless day of me holding a constant one-sided conversation with Rex or worse, listening to him cry before succumbing to a nap and then waiting on pins and needles for him to wake up.   What if he should get it in his head to be cranky? There would be no one there I could say, can you just let me have 5 minutes? And for that matter, what would I do with him all day?  When we first brought him home, I kept asking myself this question. What does one do with a newborn all day? The obvious answer now is feed him, change him and get him to sleep by whatever means necessary.  But, at the time, I was clueless.

Even now, it’s not the most intuitive thing for me to be at home with him.  He’s on a schedule now for feeding and napping, but during the other time, I look at him quizzically and ask, what should we do? And he looks right back at me and drools.  He’s as clueless as I am.  We end up in a cycle of playyard, jumperoo, throne, quilt on the floor with toys, (me) reading books to him while he tries to eat the books, going outside, taking a walk, etc., etc.  It makes me exhausted just thinking about it.

In the end, though I managed. Frankly, I managed pretty darn well.  Mr. X came home at lunch to relieve me for a little bit so I could go out and get us lunch.  Rex decided that naps were the new black and took two ginormous ones, one in the morning and one the afternoon.  And, I wasn’t exhausted at the end as I had thought I would be.  I was tired, to be sure, but not physically and emotionally drained as I had felt on prior occasions when I was the sole caretaker for more than a few hours.

I know now that some of my panic was in the not knowing: not knowing if I would be able to do it, not knowing when it was going to happen.  Just the sheer act of doing it and getting through it relatively unscathed has given me a great deal of confidence.  It has also reinforced what I’ve suspected for a long time: I am not cut out for being a stay at home mom.  Oh, do I salute you ladies who do it and do it well, day in and day out.  Give me a contract to review or a nasty letter to respond to any day.

Even though we had a good day together when he was home with me, the time that we have when he comes home from day care is that much more special.  I kiss his big cheeks within an inch of his life and he squeals in delight.  We’ve both had a good day, then.

photo: Vandelizer

Of Anniversaries

Such a confluence of events today.  Three years ago today I hit “publish” for the very first time on this blog.  Three years later, it still brings me a great deal of comfort and peace.

Six months ago today, we met Rex for the very first time when he was placed on my chest after an easy 12+ hours of blissfully epiduraled labor and 2.5 hours of pushing.

If you had told me that three years to the day after I started my blog that I would be serenading my six-month old with a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday, I would have never believed you.

Wonders will never cease.

My One and Only

Back in those heady days of first trying to conceive, before we knew what epic problems and failures lied ahead of us, Mr. X and I were both comfortable with the idea of having two children.  It seemed so complimentary, so even, so symmetrical.  I am an only child so the thought of having a child with a sibling appealed to me, even though I never wanted a sibling growing up (I think my precise words to my dad when he asked if I wanted a sibling was, “And what? Have to share?”).  They could grow up together, love each other, blah, blah, blah.

Within 24 hours of having Rex, I knew pretty much unequivocally that I was done.  Six months later, I’m still pretty much unequivocal about being done with one.   The main reason is that I don’t want to do the baby thing again. Ever again.

I’ve taken to motherhood like a fish to a bicycle, that is to say, I’ve adapted, but very slowly and painfully.  This has nothing to do with Rex, either. He is a WONDERFUL baby.  We know how fabulously lucky we are that he inherited most of his daddy’s laid back temperment with a pinch of his momma’s fiesty-ness.

It’s that I now realize that in my fantasizing about being a mom, I never had dreams of holding babies and playing with infants.  My dreams were always of taking a three year old to the zoo, talking to an earnest 6 year old and reading books to him.  It was never about changing diapers and preparing bottles for me.

These past few weeks have cemented this – Rex has been home with us due to illness and weekends and while I’m managing just fine, I am 99.9% certain that one infant in my lifetime is enough.

That is how it is that I turned to Mr. X at lunch the other day and told him out of the blue, “I can’t do this again.”  He knew exactly what I was talking about and gave me one of his gorgeous smiles.  He said he understood and accepted my decision, even though I know that he was interested in giving Rex a sibling.  I have never loved him so much as I did when he accepted my wish with such grace and ease.

This decision also allows me to avoid the angst of secondary infertility – and there would be angst, even though we both decided that we would not take any heroic measures to have number two that we took to have Rex.  I know myself well enough that it would be very possible that I would spiral right back into the pain of infertility non-gratification that would get worse and worse each month. I gave five years of my life to it and I really regret that now.  I don’t want to spend the rest of my 30s like that. I want to enjoy Rex at all of his stages both because of him and because I would know unequivocally that this was it.

image: thelouishe