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Blurry full moon and clouds.





Monday, September 19, 2005

JB's parents relish in telling us how when JB was born, they had been home from the hospital for a couple days when they decided to go out on the town (Coos Bay, Oregon, circa 1973; the mind fairly boggles at the entertainment possibilities laid before them) - before being brought up short by remembering the fact that they now had a baby, and thus couldn't go any-fucking-where.

I thought that little vignette might be an exaggeration of sorts, sort of like how people tell you that you'll never sleep again after the baby comes, but it must be a typical part of adjusting to life with your newborn: forgetting, for a moment, their existence, as you plan your Saturday night.

Well, we could go see Lord of War, you say, before your brain catches up and you glance over to your tiny son, who appears by his loud grunting and furrowed brows to be in the midst of producing the world's pointiest turd. Maybe we could bring him? - and then you think of the logistics involved, the poor odds of him being perfectly silent and producing no Suspect Odors for two and a half hours, and the possibility of CPS hunting you down for bringing a 20-day-old baby to see a movie rated R for "strong violence, drug use, language and sexuality". And so you heave a sigh and trundle over to the computer to put it in your "Saved" Netflix queue, securing your chances of finally watching the damn thing sometime in 2006.

To avoid cabin fever, though, we have been pretty diligent about leaving the house for small outings with Riley, which was highly nerve-wracking during the first week when 1) I helplessly worried about the number of pathogens floating through the air at any given moment, 2) he looked especially teensy and pathetic in his Graco seat, and 3) presumably well-meaning strangers constantly exclaimed "Oh! That's such a NEW baby!", making me feel defensive and guilty because of 1) those pathogens.

As the days pass, it is getting a bit easier to leave the house with Riley in tow - we're both a little more convinced of his relative fortitude, and I personally no longer break into guilty tears when he whimpers over the carseat straps - but all of our excursions now require some strategic planning, such as preemptive diaper changes and feedings, and a schedule that allows us to rush back home should our downy-cheeked cherub decide to transform into the Very Angry Tomato-Face Baby.

We may not be sitting in fancy bars sipping adult beverages, we may not be watching Nicolas Cage play a Ukrainian gunrunner, and, frankly, some of us may not have washed our hair in over 48 hours, but we WILL be taking our child to a funeral in a few days. Oh yes, our newfound shaky confidence is about to be tested this weekend, when we must pack up Riley and his various accouterments and head to Bend to honor a relative's passing, which will involve not only a five hour drive each way, but also bringing him to the service itself and sitting poised for escape at the first eulogy-interrupting squawk.

I figure if we can collectively get through that, the sky's the limit - next time, we're taking him to HOME DEPOT with us.


Oh, and as for the time-worn adage that you must kiss your beauty sleep goodbye after giving birth, let me just say that it's only partially true. Or mostly true, but in a different way. What? Sorry, I'm tired.

On average I get up with the baby twice in the wee hours of the evening, while JB brackets these tasks by doing the last feeding of the night and the first in the morning. It's pretty good teamwork, really, but I do find it a bit unfair that JB can actually sleep at night, while I remain aware of every snort, gurgle, and moan Riley produces. I turn on the light every so often to make sure that airways are open and socks have not mysteriously been stuffed down tracheas, and the rest of the time I lie in a tense half-doze, simultaneously praying for silence from the bassinet and worrying that things are TOO quiet.

Between morning naps and heading to bed early, I do get enough sleep to make it through the day, so while I can't say I enjoy the 2 AM shift with every molecule of my being, it's not that bad. And the kid has a Darwinian, survival-mechanism way of becoming extra cute in the middle of the night, bright-eyed and aware and surrounded in a soft halo of adorableness, and even I can't begrudge him the inch-thick layer of concealer my undereyes now require.

And now I know the reason that God put a Starbucks on every block of this city - they are to ensure no new parent need go a single moment without an infusion of caffeine and sugar. My new favorite word? "Venti", baby.



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