Wednesday, February 17, 2010

For ScienceGirl

Ecogeofemme is hosting a virtual baby shower for ScienceGirl!

So are here some humble words of advice and support, Sciencegirl and family:

Congratulations! You and your husband are about to begin an incredible adventure. You’re probably a little nervous. That is perfectly normal. In a few months, when you leave the hospital with a fragile newborn in your care, you will be completely petrified. That is also normal.

Just a few things to keep in mind through those first months:

1) Babies actually aren’t that fragile. They might not be able to lift their own heads, but they’re actually pretty resilient. I realized this for the first time when I saw the nurses manhandling my first-born at the hospital. The nurses swaddling, changing diapers, and examining the baby Bean certainly weren’t afraid of breaking her! And my husband, a pediatrician, wasn’t afraid either (it does help to be married to a pediatrician)

2) Poop comes in weird colors, consistencies, and on varying schedules.
That ghastly green-black stool that first comes out? That’s called meconium and it’s perfectly normal. And then those weird mustardy seedy stools? That’s normal, too. At first the baby may seem to go poop every five minutes. Normal. Then (if you’re breastfeeding) the baby might go only once a week. That’s normal, too. It’s also normal if he doesn’t.

3) You and your husband will be talking about baby poop a lot.

4) If you breastfeed, buy lanolin nursing cream.

5) SLEEP WHEN THE BABY SLEEPS!!! Forget about those dishes in the sink and the state of the house!

6) Let other people help.

7) Find a support group of other mothers who understand what you’re going through and don’t mind—indeed, will enthusiastically participate in—conversations about baby poop.

8) Colic may seem like it will last forever, but it IS temporary.

9) It’s all temporary. The good and the bad, both.

10) Your science will still be waiting for you when you get back from maternity leave.

11) You are going to be one awesome rocking mama.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Valentine

When I first met my husband, it all seemed so easy. That old saw about relationships being hard work? It made no sense to me. Our relationship was pure play, effortless as breathing. The furthest thing from work.

More than a decade out, wedding bands on our fingers, two children, the numerous small disappointments and difficulties of life. . . yeah, I get it now. Relationships are work.

Fortunately, my husband is wiser, more perceptive, and stronger than me on this front as on others. Just before Valentine’s Day last week we had a fight—a ridiculous, angry, go-to-bed-with-tears-in-my-eyes fight over something completely absurd. It was the kind of fight we very rarely have, because we are both naturally easy-going and terribly averse to conflict of any kind. Afterward, my husband talked to me. He talked about where we are in our relationship, and how we should pay attention to it, spend time on it. Cultivate it. Work it.

It’s been easy for me to drop my marriage to the bottom of the to-do list. To take it, and my husband, for granted. After 10+ years, it’s still easier for me to withdraw in fear and shyness from my mate, rather than share with him thoughts and parts of my self that I think he might possibly laugh at. After more than a decade, we are still far from knowing each other. If someone had explained all this to me on my wedding day, I would have laughed. I thought I knew everything.

Today there are three beautiful bouquets on the kitchen table: a vase of roses, a vase of tulips, and a vase of aster lilies. My husband ordered them last week before our fight. They were supposed to come on three consecutive days, culminating in the grand finale of red roses. By accident, the floral company shipped them all out on the same day, so I opened the garage door to what seemed a lush forest of blooms.

The roses were slightly open when I got them, and have been steadily expanding since. The red and pink tulips (my favorite) are now at their lush peak. The aster lilies are still folded in slim buds; only two have begun to open, shyly revealing themselves.

My daughter is quite interested in what it will look like when all the flowers are in bloom. I am as well.

And after I finish this post, I am going to e-mail my husband a short love note… just as we once used to do, a long time ago.