Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Ode on Baby-Dragging

I think people who haven't had kids have the idea that little babies are easily portable. I get this impression because of the number of people who have asked us when (or told us) we're bringing the baby over so they can see him. I know they mean well and just want to have a look at the cute little new baby, but in reality it's a huge PITA.

It's not that it's just inconvenient to put on his long pants and put him in the car seat and drive somewhere, so we can't be bothered. Oh no--there's a lot more to it. There is a definite reason (besides agoraphobia) that I pretty much just stay in the house these days.

For one thing, he's breastfed, not bottle-fed, which is what I think people may be used to seeing. Now, bottle-fed babies may well go 4 hours between feedings (and thus are easier to schedule activities with), basically because formula is a lot harder for them to digest. But breastfed babies often go a mere 1½-2 hours between feedings. If you then consider that a full nursing meal may take an hour, you can start to get an idea of how time-consuming this feeding business can be.

Now, this "typically" business is just an average--Limelet is one of the more-frequent feeders during the day (though blessedly he eats only a couple of times at night.) And just FYI, breastfed babies who are put on a schedule like bottle-fed babies, show delayed growth compared to on-demand nursers; bluntly put, they starve. So get that idea out of your head right now.

For example, this morning Limelet has been nursing for most of the time between 5:30 and 11:30. We had a lovely 1-hour break, during which he--amazingly--slept the entire hour (I had a real shower today with conditioner and everything! And answered a few urgent academic emails.) otherwise, pretty much, just...nursing...since 5:30am. If it weren't for the baby sling (in which I can nurse him), I'd have bedsores. I'm nursing him right now as I write this, though it's kind of hard to do.

Okay, so, say I have to go somewhere. To the university to pick something up, for example. This means I have to find the time to bathe both myself (it's usually been days, so I really should) and the baby, too. So I may have the time for a really quick shower if he's dozing for 10 minutes between nursing, but I have to leave out anything fancy, like shaving my legs, putting on any makeup at all, or drying my hair (not that I blow-dry it anyway).

Hygiene only--no time for grooming! If my husband is home he can potentially walk the baby around and around to stave off the hunger cries with exciting, repetitive songs (the Black Adder theme song features prominently, for some reason). This gives me time to also brush my teeth.

At least Limelet likes his bath, so it's only time-consuming, not torturous. But by the time I've had my shower and then bathed him, it's always time to eat again. Heaven forbid we set out on a car trip when he's already hungry, so we better time the bath accordingly. Did you notice there was no time I mentioned anything about myself eating? That's how it often works in real life, too. Just when I'm supposed to be eating like a horse (cow?) in order to produce milk, I have the least time to eat that I ever will in my entire life.

So we're bathed, dressed, he's fed, and I have an apple and a granola bar in my purse. Now we take him out to the car. If it's cold, which--come on, it's Michigan. It's cold. And windy. There is no convenient way to take an infant out in the cold, so I'm glad our car is only 20 feet from the door. Even so, the wind that gets under the blankets makes him gasp for breath repeatedly until he's frothing at the mouth. So now we buckle him into the car seat--it's not too comfortable for infants, as they slump down and can't breathe right (as I see it), and the straps have to be really tight in order to keep them properly and safely in. So he dislikes that aspect already, though he's a good sport about it most of the time.

We start out on our trip, usually about 2 hours after beginning to get ready. Now if I go on campus, there is a bit of a hike from the car to whatever building I'm going to, which means that my poor baby is blown into a crying, frothy, gasping little bundle by the time I get to the door. I hate this, and clearly he does, too, poor little thing.

Since we've been driving a while, it's time to nurse him again, so I hope that I get to--wherever--at least half an hour early. And then I have to find some place to nurse him, or at least some place to get him attached and get the cloth over his head to hide the hideous, lurid, obscene spectacle of a mother feeding her tiny innocent hungry baby. Who is also still upset from having to gasp and froth in the cold wind, dammit.

So far we've taken 2 hours to get ready, 45 minutes to drive, and half an hour to nurse. The "to" trip is so far therefore 3 hours, 15 minutes. This doesn't include any changing of his nappy/diaper --add in ten minutes. There; almost 3½ hours. And we haven't even done whatever we came out for yet!

The going home bit is somewhat shorter. Make it to the car with the re-blown and frothy upset baby, feed and change him in the car before leaving, stuff him into the disliked car seat again, 45 minutes. Drive drive drive, another 45 minutes. So maybe just an hour and a half. But add that to the above 3½ hours, and suddenly I realize it's been 5 frikkin' hours! Not including whatever activity we attended. (Okay, cut out half an hour if I didn't need to shower or dress for whatever it was.) We'll get home perhaps 6 hours after we started getting ready, if whatever we did took just an hour. And did you notice that all I've eaten so far all day is an apple and a granola bar? That's really not good for a nursing mother.

On top of all that, on days that I take him out, he's all fussy and riled up and doesn't sleep well that night. His schedule of constant eating and napping was interrupted! Takes forever to get to sleep (this means I may spend a back-ouching hour or so walking in circles in the dark kitchen, playing the lullabies of the world CD, while he's semi-awake in the sling) and he wakes up often in the night.

So, this is why we don't want to attend whatever happening event is happening. At least while he's still so young. It's not that we don't like people. It's not even that we're lazy (this time). It's just way too much, and way too stressful, for any but the most necessary things. So you're welcome to come over for a little visit instead. Just give us some lead time to wash the poopy nappies and maybe even ourselves. And feel free to bring dinner!


Melanie said...

Oh goodness! I will bring over some soup! Do you like spicy? I have a fabulous recipe for a pureed lentil soup. It also freezes very well. Hmm, I might have time this weekend. I'll be in touch.

liz said...

Oh, you don't really have to bring food. (Not that I'd turn down spicy lentil, you understand.) Of course you're welcome to come out--we haven't seen you for awhile anyway!

Gwen said...

What's amazing to me is that I have almost forgotten all of this, only a mere 3 years after having my own child. Hang in there; it will get better.

At least he sleeps pretty good at night. At this age, Sprout would wake up screaming with gas every hour all night (for six months). I was rather wilted, which is maybe why I don't remember the tricky bits...