Take yesterday. I had just put Peeper down for a nap when I was overcome with energy and inspiration—a rare combo for this nearly 40-week-pregnant lady. I took the surge out on our Forester and cleaned the bejesus out of it. All of Peeper’s 87 books went into a bag; the car toys went into another bag; random things that accumulated but didn’t belong there (several sippy cups, silverware and—um—a ukulele) journeyed inside. And—get this—I vacuumed the eff out of that sucker. I had no idea how much dog hair, bunny crackers and sand (oh the sand!) had coated every surface.
Then I lay down in bed and ate cherries and read Amy Poehler’s Yes Please for a very long time while Peeper graciously continued to nap.
Another example: I’ll be so hungry that I can literally feel my body breaking down muscles and tissues and important organs to feed itself. Then I’ll look at a sandwich and want to cry because I’m suddenly so full that my stomach is crowding my lungs and I can’t breathe.
The swings can be a little overwhelming, even for onlookers. But somehow I’ve learned to ride the ins and outs like waves. (Maybe it’s because I’ve been pregnant for a very long time and I’m finally getting used to it!)
The unexpected and drastic changes are good practice for having a newborn, too. Tiny babies brand-new to the world can go from peacefully sleeping to awake, screaming, and very, very hungry in about two seconds, so it’s good to stay on your toes. It’s also important for new moms to remember that these abrupt changes are not their fault.
As mothers, it’s very easy to invest ourselves in the moods, whims and well-being of our kids—especially newborns because they’re so helpless and reliant on us. This is good: There’s surely some evolutionary no-brainer why we want our offspring to be well cared for and, er, not wailing.
But babies cry. “Sometimes babies cry to tell us something,” as one of Peeper’s big sister books says. But sometimes they cry for no reason. Sometimes you can pop a boob in a baby’s mouth of bounce her or distract her with a ceiling fan and the crying stops; sometimes she’ll cry endlessly and you can’t seem to do anything about it.
Weathering these changes is one of the most important skills of new motherhood. Perhaps that’s why pregnancy involves so many crazy 180s.
I’m pretty sure I’ll be a little more laid back with Baby #2. I’ve done this all before and already have less anxiety about what to do and not do. I’m not nearly as concerned with not damaging a newborn as I was with Peeper—not because I don’t care, of course, but because I’m pretty sure I can take care of an itty bitty person without messing her up royally. (I’ve logged much more than 10,000 hours raising Peeper, after all—that qualifies me as an expert!)
So I’ll try to ride out these swings for as long as my pregnancy continues to last. They’re just extra practice for the roller coaster of when Kiwi arrives.