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Monday, October 18, 2010

The Baby Vortex

After the epic visit with Hanne, I set out to catch up on some sleep and (almost) alone time -- but I swung so far in the other direction that I fell and got caught in The Baby Vortex.

The Baby Vortex is not so much about the baby, as the name might imply, but more about myself. An isolating force that quickly sucked me in to suddenly feel that I lacked an existence outside of the baby world. It started with sleeping almost an entire day, a marvelous idea that should have yielded positive results, but instead it invited a potential migraine that I fought off all day. I chalked it up to exhaustion and slept in again, always intending to "catch up" when I did finally start my next day. But there's the elusive balance of energy-time-focus-completion I am finally beginning to appreciate, and surrender to, after losing many a battle. It's ridiculous but true that hours fly by, and yet nothing gets done. For an impatient multi-tasker like me, this is a bitter pill to swallow. My idea of relaxation is to make a list of things to do, and my sense of control is to execute the tasks from these lists. It's an ongoing process that brings if not happiness, a deep sense of calm. So I can't really explain how a whole day goes by, or a whole week, and I still didn't make that call to the doctor's office. Or the piles of intended organizational joy, instead of being merrily put away, grow like ugly ulcers in the house. The reality is if the house, occasional laundry, baby and I are clean, presentable and there's dinner ready before 8pm, that's all I've managed.

I should mention that the vortex is fiercely grounded at home. I did not leave the house for 72 hours. I did not step outside the house for three whole days. Now that would have sounded dreamy back in my 50+hour workweeks, but instead of the lounging, reading and carefree state of playing hooky I'd imagined, I am a slave to a repetitive tyrant. Zenas is a good baby. But even a good baby wakes up every 3 hours to feed, has no control over what should be private acts over a toilet, and prefers to be held, especially when tired, at the end of every waking cycle. Then repeat. It's not very hard work, nor is it unpleasant work. But it must be delivered without fail, and by me, mostly alone. The responsibility is an insidiously growing weight, at first perceived as the privilege of parenthood, but shifting around week six to an inescapable contract.

What's crazy is that there is constant change in this lack of activity. Zenas is growing fast (okay well big) before our very eyes, and we're gaining the confidence and expertise we didn't know we lacked. But all the change is subtle, while also constant, so the reality doesn't quite hit you at first but suddenly like an overplayed song.

So many questions suddenly are about my identity, my desires, my meaning, my friends, my personality, my needs, my wardrobe, my days left, my work, my hobbies, my intentions, my family (original), my family (new), my money, my future, my abilities, my needs, my time, all my my my that is not my baby. The vortex is a spinny thing.

A telling sign: I did not take a single photo of Zenas in three days. I can't let this happen, so I began to claw my way back to the world of the living. I finally answered a few emails, made some calls, and tended to my social calendar. Made a vow to take a walk once a day, and also to try to meet some other moms who are around. The days are flying by, and I refuse to be left behind.

1 comment:

  1. Mari, have you read Ayelet Waldman? She came to the bookstore and read from her book, BAD MOTHER, and the piece she shared was incredibly funny and witty and snarky and humane. She said some really interesting things about the whole being a mom vs. being yourself balance. She's also a bit (in)famous for writing an essay in the NY Times about loving her children but being *in* love with her husband: