People give lots of advice when you have a new baby. Some of it is helpful (“Buy 30,000 more diapers than you think you need!”). Some of it is messy but true (if he has diaper rash, let him be naked for awhile everyday!”). Some of it is kind of bizarre (squirt breast milk into infected eyes!).
The most universal piece of advice we got, no contest, was to “savor every moment!” Actually, they verbally capitalize it: Savor Every Moment. The people who say this were A) very well meaning B) usually a touch misty eyed and C) clinically insane.
Trying to savor every minute seems like something that should be so easy to do with a precious, gorgeous little boy that makes funny cooing noises and giggles after he sneezes. And for sure, savoring opportunities abound: bathtime, tummy time, watching him sleep, playing with his hair. An astute person will notice this is not, however, 24 hours worth of activity in a day. Lucky for me, “Savor It!” probably became the concept that saved my marriage.
For awhile it was a minor “in” joke. If I got peed on, Mac would say “savor it!” If he had to fork over $100 for formula and diapers we’d chuckle “let’s savor this!” The day Baby kicked Mac square in the balls was a more ironic “savor.” Then came the time when the “we are truly savoring this” almost got overwhelmed by the reality.
What happened that evening when we were not bathing, tummy timing or hair playing? Let’s see. I was recovering from the injections that help with my chronic abdominal pain, walking with a cane, plus scared out of my wits that one of the nerves in my abdomen would fire back to life while I was holding Baby, and that I would hurt myself trying not to drop him (or worse, drop him then fall). Mac was working 50 hours a week, allowing for his own chronic pain and desperately waiting for sinus surgery to remove a cyst that impaired his breathing and left him even more sleepless than he should have been. We were, to use the parlance of our own choosing, having a pain day. B.C. (Before Child) we could sleep, or make an extra physical therapy appointment, hell; we could drink for a couple of hours and see how that went. The point is, with Baby there was no longer such a thing as a pain day opt-out.
So we’re in the living room/kitchen. My abdomen is very swollen and sore, Mac’s head is killing him, and suddenly the baby begins the Wail of Everlasting Horror. Oh my God, I had no idea the entirety of human suffering throughout time and space could be compressed into one child’s voicebox. And NOTHING helped. Initial inspection yielded no results. We run the laundry list of the usual suspects: diaper, food, temperature, gas, lonely….nope. We talk through other possibilities as they occur to us: When do babies start teething? How can you tell if he’s constipated? I once heard the penis can get chaffed by the diaper?
Now the screaming has started to interfere with our neurological function and we’re screaming back and forth these amazingly bad theories, ranging from the esoteric to downright insane. “Can we let him scream into a phone and see if someone else knows what this means?” “What if he needs to hear his biological mother’s heartbeat and my heartbeat sounds weird?” “Can babies have gallstones?” What? “I SAID CAN BABIES HAVE GALLSTONES?”
In utter desperation I decide to start making dinner, so I can face this hellchild with a full stomach and possibly a Percocet or two in me. I turn on the oven, thinking about chicken pot pies. Decide to make formula so Mac can try feeding baby again while I do the pies. Vaguely recall there was a potpie incident a few weeks ago…what was that?
Need nipple for bottle. Wash, dry, assemble nipple. Set it down to search for the bottle I thought I started making. Oven starts smoking. Oh, crap. The potpie incident was that I dropped one and neverfullycleaneditupAHHHHHHHH! Run to kitchen, slam off oven, open kitchen door to clear smoke, run back with bottle, SHIT, where’s the nipple? Cat bolts out open door to escape the infernal screeching. Run to get the cat! CAN’T run to get the cat, don’t have shoes! Forget the shoes, now the fire alarm is going off. NOW I hear the baby screaming, the alarm wailing, Mac cursing, the cat’s in Omaha by now…
I turn around and look right at my husband, who, over the head of his beautiful bellowing newborn, laughs. Really, really laughs, as he says to me “are you savoring this?”
I think I am.