Neuroscience has proven that being a mom
actually makes you smarter and the whole "mommy
brain" business is a myth. Hmm. Who am I to quibble with scientific
research, but from where I sit, the combination of sleeplessness,
sore nipples and a throbbing C-scar isn't helping anybody
complete The New York Times Sunday
I had my second son in September 2012. He was sweet
and adorable. However, he thought sleep was for suckers and acted
like he was being dipped into molten lava when we had the audacity
to put him down. I'd had a C-section so my own movements were
ginger at best. On top of all that, nursing was going terribly. My
daily schedule amounted to this pattern on repeat: fitful nursing
session, supplemental bottle, pumping session to boost my supply.
When I was finished, it was time to start all over again. The baby
and I were a two-headed monster of misery and
My toddler was 2 ½ at the time and definitely took
a back seat during those first six weeks. I changed his diaper, fed
him and indulged the occasional cuddle, but he spent most of his
times playing independently with his toys.
On a particularly brutal day about three weeks
postpartum, I was completely wrung out. My eyes were open, but I
was essentially in a low-grade coma. Eventually my vacant stare
turned to the direction of my toddler. He was clad only in a
diaper, crouched on the floor in a defensive posture to keep the
curious cats at bay while he ate pouches he had retrieved from the
pantry. I gasped and said aloud "Oh my God, he's
Had I fed him breakfast? I couldn't remember.
Lunch? Definitely not. Yep, I had completely forgotten to feed my
kid, so he took matters into his own hands. He didn't even ask me
for lunch - he just fended for himself. He was pleased as punch. I
wanted to die. My distraction had turned my child feral. All he
needed was a sloth bear best friend and the picture would be
After feeding him a proper lunch, hugging him
tightly and indulging in some guilty tears, I decided to decrease
the ambition of my daily goals. I couldn't change the baby's brutal
feeding schedule, but everything else went up in smoke. I gave up
on the piles of laundry, the disastrous kitchen and everything else
that didn't fulfill a basic need. Was everyone fed, clothed and
relatively unscathed at the end of the day? Gold medal. Survival
mode isn't glamorous, but it gets the job done.
The most jarring part of this experience was the
abrupt loss of any initial smugness my husband and I had about
being experts the second time around. As far as I could tell,
having two kids amounted to constantly choosing one to neglect.
Baby's hungry? His turn. Toddler wedged halfway through the cat
door? That one. Baby spews "Exorcist" vomit all over his clothes,
our clothes, the couch and the rug? We have a winner!
Things have normalized now that the boys are 3 ½
and one, and I'm happy to report that all meals are taken at the
table rather than crouched on the family room floor.
I still have absolutely no idea what I'm doing, but
I've made my peace with it. "Happily muddling through" is not the
most inspiring message to stitch onto a pillow, but it works for
Rebecca Little, a native Chicagoan, loves discovering new ways to keep her two very active boys entertained lest they resort to spackling heirloom furniture or flushing toy trains down the toilet - not that those are real examples. Follow her at PinwheelChicago.com.
See more of Rebecca's stories here.
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