Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A Week With a Baby

I arrived at my sister's house late Saturday night. I was supposed to be there Friday afternoon, but a bunch of last-minute stuff came up that threw my plans off. Once I had done everything I could on Saturday, however, my awesome husband shoved me out the door (figuratively, of course) amidst promises that he would take care of everything else (which he did).

The thing that struck me most vividly about living with a five-week-old baby for a week was how irreversibly a baby re-centers your life. And you'd think that would be a bad thing, but it's really just different. For one week, I got to see what it's like to have a baby at the center of my universe, and what really amazed me was how much life still continued to move along pretty much normally around that new center. And I'll stop there before I start to wax too poetical. I'll admit that I got off easy, because I didn't have to get up for thrice nightly feedings, and my sister insisted that I shouldn't have to be on diaper duty all week. But I really enjoyed the rhythm of living with Alana and Eric and Nicholas for that time. And Alana took lots of pictures of us for me to post on my blog.

I won't go into a detailed blow-by-blow of the entire week. We ate three meals a day and evening snacks at night, Nicholas eating approximately twice as often as us. I did as much of the cooking as I could, vacuumed, did dishes, went grocery shopping and stacked firewood. While Alana nursed, I read. When Nicholas was fussy, I walked around with him and let him look at the world to keep him entertained.
nick looking around

When his neck got tired of twisting around to see what there was to see, I held him on my chest until he fell asleep (exhausted, no doubt, from the strain of trying to read the words on my shirt).
nick reading my shirt

Sometimes, he would sleep soundly, and I would rest him on my knees and send Alana to bed while he napped and I read (or just stared at him).
nick asleep on my lap

Sometimes, I would entertain him by reading him his dinosaur book,
me reading to nick

and sometimes, he would entertain me with his Dr. Evil impersonation.
nick's dr. evil impersonation

Other times, we would just hang out and let mommy do housework unencumbered.
nick and me

During the week I was there, I learned to tell his hungry cries from his bored cries, and he learned how to stick his tongue out for me when I encouraged him with laughter. (Sadly, there are no pictures of this, which is odd, since he did stick his tongue out an awful lot.) Alana and I both swear we saw him smile real smiles, not just the gassy ones. While I was there, Nick discovered his hands, and by the end of the week, he had developed a really strong grip.
nick holding my finger

We took walks with Nick and Eli (Nicholas' big, hairy, canine brother). We visited Alana's Taiko group to show Neko-chan off to Alana's second family. One night, Tim and Allison (a friend from college and his girlfriend) came to visit me and we played Settlers of Catan while Alana and Nick napped. We picked a whole bunch of tomatoes from Alana's garden and made sauce. We talked, we laughed, and we splurged and ate ice cream almost every night.

As I was looking over the pictures that Alana sent to me (and over them, and over them, and over them), I realized that not only was I enjoying how adorable my nephew looked in those pictures, but I was also enjoying how I looked in those pictures. I haven't liked very many pictures of myself in the past few years - I always seem to look old or tired (to me, of course, everyone else always seems to think I look fine). But since I quit my job at the law office, I have had several people tell me how much happier I look. And a week at my sister's, a week that for all intents and purposes should have seemed routine and boring, a week of living simply on a schedule driven by the needs of an infant, that week seems to have been the icing on the cake. I look at these pictures, and I like the way I look because I look happy.
me sans nick


Dan said...

Yeah, I sorta can see the happier thing... your smiles seem a little bit... deeper, maybe?

Also, why are you reading cutesy dinosaur books to a baby?! Get Machiavelli into him while his mind is still malleable to fully develop his evil genius capabilities!

(also, never let me have children)

Kate said...

All through this post I was thinking, "Wow, Jule Ann really looks great. Great haircut and I swear she's lost weight." Then I got to the end and discovered that you were feeling happier, too. It's nice to see that your reappearance on the blogging scene is not angst-y, as most blogging seems to be.

timollie said...

I must admit that in the last post, when you posted your goofy pic of you and Jer, I thought - wow, I haven't seen that girl in a long time :) That happy, goofy girl. I'm glad you're really feeling well, and I pray that it sticks around for a long while :)
Hope to see you soon, friend!

Anonymous said...

Babies do funny things to you. Yes, a 5 week old can smile, I've got picture evidence to that effect. I actually have seen a much newer baby really smile, I don't believe the gas story. I know there are reflex smiles, and there are real smiles. Not all of my babies have smiled early, but a few have and I believe they were real smiles.

You look natural with a baby hanging out with you.

BTW, my baby is due on the 10th, I'm still pregnant and waiting...

Sarah said...

ooohhhh...Kite Runner was fantastic!

jd said...

I think there's another Aunt Ester in the making! The aunt who is a favourite with the nieces and nephews! I'm so glad you had such a good week, and it IS good to see you so relaxed and happy.
Love you!