And now a word about Mommy
August 13, 2012 § 2 Comments
As you may have noticed, my life has become a bit baby-centric in the past (almost) six months. For the first two and a half months, I struggled with feeling like I mattered at all–it seemed clear to me then that my existence was only useful for as far as I could extend myself to meet Melanie’s needs. Was she hungry? Call Mommy. Did she seem tired? Call Mommy. Was she wet? Call Mommy. (This assessment, on its face, is not fair–obviously, Robert played a massive role and still does. He has changed just as many diapers as I have; he has rocked her to sleep just as many times as I have. But, from my own perspective, I felt like I had no other use on this planet except to tend to Melanie.) I did not develop clinical postpartum depression, but I did experience the baby blues. A lot of new mommies do, and I had to eventually feel comfortable with the fact that I felt so sad and lonely.
That said, even though I was sacrificing myself (my personal interests, time with friends, my health goals, work on my dissertation), and even though I did experience some low moments because of that sacrifice, this has been an experience unlike any other. If I were given the choice not to make those sacrifices, I would not hesitate in the least at rejecting that choice. Melanie is a gift, and I am every day made aware of the preciousness of that gift.
After the first two and a half months, I felt like the clouds began to part. Melanie could smile back, which reassured me and made me feel like maybe I did matter beyond the ability to meet her basic needs. Now she can play with us, and she really is starting to enjoy spending time with us. She prefers some people over others (family members and friends we see with some regularity versus strangers), and she is starting to show elements of her strong-natured personality. (My mom has recommended I read The Strong-Willed Child, which she apparently read cover-to-cover when I was a little girl. She told me this weekend that she thought Melanie would take after her mommy…I couldn’t be more proud. This world needs strong-willed girls, even if they are challenging for their parents.) Best of all, Melanie can nap independently now. We are also working on solids–she has had rice cereal (blech), zucchini (meh), green peas (ugh), oatmeal cereal (blech), green beans (where have you been my whole life??), and (as of today) squash (alleluia!!). As with all new moms, I do believe the solids are helping her nap and sleep longer, but we established a sleeping schedule independently of her introduction to solids.
(Hey wait, isn’t this supposed to be about me??)
As Melanie has become more confident and comfortable with her place in this family, and as we have become more confident and comfortable with her, our lives have gotten substantially better.
Case in point: tomorrow, my committee will be receiving the revisions for all chapters (excluding the conclusion).
I received comments from my committee between June and July for all chapters (excluding the conclusion), and I have been able to slowly and systematically work on revisions as Melanie naps or plays. Robert has had a major hand in this because he has been able to take care of Melanie and offer me a few hours here and there to work. This past week, Robert had a break between his summer and fall semesters, so instead of spending that week with each other (which we desperately wanted to do), he took me to the university library each morning, dropped me off with my lunch and a pout (on my face), and picked me up in the evening when I texted him that I was at my limit and couldn’t take it anymore. He withstood moments of desperation, despair, and depression; as well as moments of guarded joy, relief, and pride. While in the library, I did the best I could, taking each chapter, each comment, as it came–I started with the small stuff first, letting my mind mull over the larger changes. It felt like gardening–I had to clear away the brambles and brush before I could plant the nice big trees.
This morning, as Melanie dozed away the early hours (she is now typically waking up around 8/8:30 instead of 6/6:30–thanks solids!), I finished the last paragraph that needed my attention (the introduction to chapter three). Just as she began to stir and fuss, I printed off a copy of the introduction and four chapters for my committee member who has vision problems; he will receive his copy tomorrow, so I will send electronic versions to my other two committee members at that point as well.
As for my conclusion, the reason it has stagnated is not my fault, I swear! 😉 I drafted my conclusion at the end of May, and then I promptly sent it to my director. I am still waiting to hear from her; although I know that my peers would be really upset by this lack of attention, I am a bit relieved because it gave me time to focus on the revisions from my earlier chapters. If I don’t hear from my director after tomorrow’s electronic delivery of new chapter drafts, I will get in touch with her again and ask her what I need to change about the conclusion. We’ll see what she says. I don’t want to get my hopes up, but there are some whispers that the defense might actually be doable now. I sure hope it is…I feel like I can’t take another semester of this.
So, as my baby continues to nap, and while I am on borrowed time, I am going to close this post here and get moving on some housework.
I am so grateful that my baby is doing this well and that she and Robert have been instrumental in my recent success.