uh, hello? nice to see you again?
I say that because if you’re reading this right now, I’m guessing that you are a long-time reader of this blog. You may have even “subscribed” long ago, and just got a confusing notification in your inbox that some blog—“Type what now”? What was that one?—had an update.
Because why else would you be on the page of a blog that hasn’t updated in almost 2 years?
Anyway, if you are a long-time reader of this blog, you might remember that I once wrote an entire post about a passing comment a co-worker made about Oreos. Another post was about a twitter fight between Nick Jonas and the lunatic who runs Crossfit. Yet another was about the incredibly short lived USA Network drama Colony. (Remember that invaluable contribution to the canon?!)
Point being, while in real life I’m fairly introverted and can find talking exhausting, when it comes to writing I can expostulate for literally ages on the tiniest things. Even when my life was fairly stable, I could bust out a few updates a week on minutiae like insurance battles, workplace struggles, my hair, whatever.
I say all this to explain why, even though I’ve had the idea to update this blog for the past 6 months or so, I’ve been pretty paralyzed by the prospect. Would my readers be OK with a post that WordPress estimated to be a 1,000,000-minute-read? Because that felt like the only way to even scratch the surface of everything that’s happened since I last updated in January 2020.
Had a baby.
Had a newborn.
Had an infant.
Tried to sell the book I wrote. Didn’t happen.
Had a toddler.
Wrote another book. Trying to sell that one.
The long version took 18 months to live and would take just as long to explain. I personally believe everyone on earth has enough interesting stuff going on their lives to justify a blog, but certainly we all could write several after the last year and a half. Just as I’ve had my struggles and challenges, so have you. And yet, somehow, here we are, tattered and exhausted and existing in the perpetual stress state that is 2021.
So allow me to, albeit briefly, address lines 2 and 3 of my short summary, above. Hopefully, in the coming days and weeks I’ll be able to address more of those lines. But for today, I’m reflecting on lines 2 and 3: “Lockdown” and “Had a newborn.” AKA “The Hardest 3 Months of My Life.”
Paul was born after a quick and straightforward labor on February 27, 2020. I delivered him maskless in the hospital with a full support system there because it wasn’t the pandemic yet, even though we know now that it was. Wild, right?
A few weeks later, we were home with a newborn and the country went into lockdown. Not exactly the postpartum experience we’d planned on. My torturous struggles with breastfeeding were compounded by a lip and tongue tie that we couldn’t get diagnosed or treated for weeks because, you know… COVID. For 3 months, we were sleepless zombies, up what felt like every 20 minutes and entirely out of our leagues, blearily shifting our focus between the screaming alien that we somehow had to keep alive and the otherworldly news headlines updating us on the deterioration of the whole wide world. All the support systems we’d planned on—help from family, friends, daycare, even—were wrenched away from us. Our house felt like a dark island in the middle of an endless empty ocean. Some nights I clocked 15,000 steps just walking around the ground floor with a howling baby strapped to me.
Damn. How reductive it is, describing what may have been the hardest time in my life in a simple paragraph. Words like “sleepless” and “screaming” and “deterioration” are stupidly inadequate. “Torture” and “misery” and “desperation” would be equally inadequate. There’s nothing like the feeling when you haven’t slept in days, weeks, and all you want to do is close your eyes and sleep, oh my god let me sleep oh my god oh my god oh my god, and your eyes are finally easing closed because the baby has been fed and changed and you’ve pumped and you’ve cleaned the pump and you’ve stored the milk appropriately and you’ve peed and you’ve checked your blood sugar and you’ve chugged a juice, no, two, because you’re not going to have a midnight near-death session again because of postpartum lows, damnit, and the baby is finally sleeping and your eyes can finally close and then—
—he screams. And even though everything in your body is begging you to ignore it and sleep, finally sleep oh my god sleep…. it sinks in with a nauseating lurch: there’s no one else.
No one else will get that baby if you don’t. And fuck me, you can’t just leave a screaming baby alone in a bassinet because… well, you can’t , you just can’t, everybody knows that, but also you can’t possibly get him because you are so, so, so, so, so tired, but also THERE IS NO ONE ELSE. (Well, OK, there’s the guy next to you but he’s in the exact same position you are and having the exact same existential crisis you’re having, you can see it in his eyes: he’s realizing there’s no one else.)
So you get the baby.
And you do it again. And again. And again. And you have breakdowns and spend more time crying than not crying, and you frantically search amazon and whole foods and wegmans for curbside pick up times and you frantically look at the COVID statistics and you frantically order something called the Love To Dream swaddle at 3:45 AM because it keeps them in a position that *definitely* helps them sleep, and this will *definitely* make a difference, damnit.
And then at 5:15 AM you order something called the LaVie Lactation massager because it’s supposed to help with clogged ducts and even though it looks like a cheap sex toy it will *definitely* keep you from getting mastitis because fuck me, you can’t go to a doctor right now it’s a fucking pandemic—you even did your 6 week postpartum check up virtually, holding a cell phone camera up to your vagina and asking your OB if it “looked normal” because you were too afraid to look yourself.
And then at 6:11 AM you order something called Legendairy (get it?) Milkapalooza because even though it’s twenty bucks for a 10 day supply it will *definitely* help increase your supply so you don’t have to supplement with formula which is pretty much the worst thing in the world. I mean, you haven’t slept in 45 days so your judgement is probably not the best, but you’re pretty sure that having to supplement with formula is akin to genocide. Or worse. It’s worse than genocide. That’s what those instagram videos by those bitchy-looking Midwestern mommy bloggers say, right?
We survived. That’s enough. In every sense of the word, it’s enough, it’s everything. Plus, look at this fucking perfect little baby??
We’re still here.
And so is this damn pandemic.