Sunday, December 29, 2013

Lift Me Up

... because lately I have been drowning.In diapers and sleepless nights and breast milk and bottles and bath times and meal times... and unexpected hospital and doctor visits.

I didn't quite expect this, but the last two months with a two-year old and a newborn have been very difficult for me.It has felt like bootcamp -- where I am being pushed both physically and mentally, more than I ever have been before.It's physical because I get minimal rest at night and burn a lot of calories during the day breastfeeding, lifting and carrying Akash and Arjun (and sometimes both at the same time -- up and down the stairs), and constantly tending to their needs.It's mental because I just cannot feel at peace with the relentless demands on my time.I suppose it's been difficult to get used to the fact that with two children (and a household to run) you get very little time to yourself -- and yes, you have to do this again on Saturday and Sunday, and next week, and the week after that as well.There is no vacation.

In typical fashion, I also have been very hard on myself.I beat myself up because by American societal standards, I have more of a support structure than most to get me through this time (with Amanda and the grandparents), and it still is very difficult for me.But I wish society would be more gentle with its new mothers and I also wish I would be more gentle with myself.

It feels like during pregnancy and up until labor and delivery, there is enormous focus on the mother in this country.But as soon as the baby is born, it is all about the baby. There is very little focus on the personal needs of the new mother -- and the new mother is just viewed

and treated as a vehicle of care for the new baby.This is wrong.We just went through 9 months of pregnancy and achieved the herculean task of birthing a child.And in addition to recovering from the mental and physical stresses of childbirth, we are overwhelmed with the demands of a newborn.In India, new mothers are massaged and fed and basically are restricted from leaving the home for the first 40 days, which forces them to rest and bond with their new baby.But in America, the situation for new mothers is quite different.No wonder most new mothers in this country, including myself, are anxious and exhausted and overwhelmed and stressed. We should allow ourselves (and not be judged by others) to feel this way.

As with everything else, I am sure with time I will adapt to becoming a parent of two children, and it will become second nature.And I am sure years from now, only the beautiful and wholesome memories of Arjun and Akash's early childhood will linger more prominently in my mind.But, I want to make sure I don't forget how difficult this period has been for me.And I want to remember to commiserate with future parents when they tell me how difficult of a time they are having with multiple young children in the house.

The stress of the last two months also has been amplified by a couple significant health hurdles with Arjun.As much as I tried, I was not able to prevent Arjun from catching a virus from Akash.First, Akash got sick with a coughthe way he asks "guys, what you doing? (that sounds like "what you dooking?") whenever he enters a room filled with people; the way he wanted to be "cozy, cozy" during our first family Friday movie night watching "Madagascar," and got comfy with a pillow and blankie; the way he says "Mommy, don't leave" when I tuck him into bed at night; the way he now has his super sweet moments with Arjun and will hold Arjun's hand and pet him and kiss him and say "Hi baby, I'm Akash, wanna play?"; the way he will occasionally agree to cuddle with me, but will more often than not say "No cuddle!" when I ask for a cuddle;and the way he will sometimes ask me to lay down on the floor next to his crib at bedtime and will peer at me with big wide eyes through the railings of his crib to make sure I didn't leave; the way he will sometimes ask for time on the rocking chair with me before bedtime and will just sit holding me and rocking on the chair, completely zenned out for a few beautiful brief moments; the way he will sometimes show and share his toys with Arjun or will bring over some of the baby toys for Arjun to "play" with; the way he likes to help me set the table by placing the chairs and cutlery and bottles of salad dressing; the way he will help me wipe with paper towels after dinner; the way he has developed a happy/tear-free drop-off routine at school and will willingly hang up his jacket and schoolbag and plant a kiss on my lips before I leave; the way he erupts into laughs and shouts of pure happiness when I pick him up from school (the best part of my day!!); how stinking adorable he looks when he wheels his Thomas the Train school bag behind him on the way to the car; the ways he says "Oh no, what happened!" whenever he encounters anything new; the way he finds such joy in learning what we would consider the smallest of tasks, like pulling up his pants on his own for the first time, or pulling his socks off on his own for the first time, or shutting the blinds for the first time; the way he crawls into this little caravan tent that he got for Christmas and will giggle when I join him in there and share his toys and snacks with me in there; the way he says I am a "princess" and he is "spiderman"; the way he didn't use his stroller when we recently went to the mall and just walked around with us like a little man; the way he sings "Old

McDonald," "B-I-N-G-O," "Jingle Bells," and "Thomas and His Friends"; the way he will literally subsume a Subway chicken sandwich and can eat almost 3/4ths of a foot-long; the way on the way home from a holiday party last Friday night he said "I want to eat McDonalds" like a big kid; the way he loves taco nights and will devour 2-3 tacos; the way he sometimes still gets intensely jealous to see me with Arjun; the way he recently woke up crying in the middle of the night because there were "bugs" in his bed, which actually were just little monkeys printed on his bed sheet; the way he will follow me into the bathroom and will sometimes insist on helping me wipe; the way he is super curious about my breast pump and after seeing me use it, carried it around and was attaching it to chairs and tables and other miscellaneous objects in the hopes that they too would produce milk; the way at the playground in our subdivision we will slide down adjoining slides holding hands and he absolutely loves it.

And featuring Arjun:the way he now erupts into smiles when he sees my face or hears me talk; the way he tries to carry on a conversation in coos; the way he will stretch his tiny body after a good, satisfying breastfeed; the way he sometimes purses his lip in his sleep, especially when you gently stroke his cheek; the way he kicks his little legs when he plays; how so very adorable he looked in his red santa onesie and hat on his first Christmas day; the way he is soooo zen compared to Akash at that age and (knock on wood) never cries, except when he is hungry, has gas, or wants to sleep.He really is the best little newborn.And I am one lucky mamma.
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