I need to reframe my mind.

Today is day 8 of 18 straight days with visitors staying with us. So far it has just been my mom, who is amazing, and helpful, and knowledgable, and nurturing. Next up, a revolving door of Pea’s sister, mother and step-dad, my step-mother, and Pea’s dad and step-mom. I am tired of having a guest already, and my mother is a very easy guest who makes dinner and does laundry and is good at burping babies.

Spud alternated being up for an hour and asleep for an hour for the entire night last night. So I am tired from that as well. Pea and my mother both feel it is useful to tell me I need to prioritize napping, but making it a priority didn’t change that Spud only napped for 20 minutes in the basinette yesterday. He slept for ages in the car seat when we ran some errands, and for ages on me in the morning. Yesterday was a fussy day followed by a fussy night. I think growth spurt, but am not sure what’s going on.

I find myself waiting for the other shoe. For Spud to suffocate, show signs of abnormal development, get sick. I spend as little time on Google as I can, knowing it will always offer something properly scary to worry about. In the meantime, I wait and I watch and I remain one small step detached from Spud, to keep me safe if something goes wrong. I don’t want to do this, but I am stuck.

Pea is getting grumpy, because by the time he gets home in the evening, Spud is cluster feeding and grumpy, and I am tired and short tempered. He mildly chastised me for not replying to a “connect mutual friends” email he had sent. I sent five emails yesterday and had six more urgent ones I just didn’t get to. I am stressed about how hard it is to keep on top of things, and the next set of guests all feel strongly I should not be working at all, so are not likely to be helpful in that regard. I did not accept his chastising.

Probably all I need is more sleep, the universal heal-all for new parents. I probably won’t get enough sleep for ages though, so I need to reframe how I’m doing this in the meantime.

Spud is so lucky to have an extended clan of loving, excited family who want to meet him and provide some support to Pea and I.

I am so happy to have Spud here, and I know borrowing worry is a waste of energy and that Pea and I will navigate challenges as they appear.

I would be grumpy if I had to be at work too, it would break my heart a little every time I left in the morning. Pea is getting more sleep than I am, but he is not getting enough sleep by far.

I have empathy and compassion still, but I am tired and they are harder to access. I will try to nap and try to live in this moment more.


9 thoughts on “Grinding

  1. Turia

    So I said some stuff to you about this already but you know me, always more assvice to offer.

    With emails, before becoming a parent I never had them sitting in a draft folder I would make the time to write them and send them all at once. Now it sometimes takes me 3 days to finish an email but I keep chipping away at it when I can. Having the smartphone has helped a lot. It is a big change in mindset to be able to be productive in blocks of three or five minutes, but it is necessary. Maybe you were already better at this than I was.

    It sometimes took me weeks to reply to someone. I am not exaggerating. Pea needs to let go of any usual timelines and recognize that answering emails cannot be a priority, especially ones that are not work-related.

    With work, I strongly suggest redefining your definition of urgent and also setting out firm guidelines to how you will handle emails from your students. When I was teaching this summer I told them I would reply within 48 hours and not at all on the weekend. Often I did better than this but it made it clear they couldn’t expect instant responses from me.

    If you will need time to concentrate on work every day, maybe you want to think about getting a mother’s helper who can come in for a few hours a few times a week to watch Spud while you put out fires. If Spud starts to nap well after six weeks maybe this will not be necessary. If he is like my babies, it might be a life saver. If Spud sleeps well on your chest durine the day, get out the laptop. I wrote entire lectures with P camped out on my chest.

    Honestly this phase is SO HARD and women who are very intellectual and older and have established careers are often gobsmacked by the shift to becoming a mother. Plus infertility and loss also increase your risk for trouble adjusting and PPD and PPA. Everything you are feeling is very very normal but do keep an eye on your moods, and make sure Pea is looking out for you too.

    Lastly it is totally ok to not love this stage and to not want to treasure every moment. I wanted to punch people who told me that with E. It is just really really hard and the only way out is through.
    Love you!

    1. labmonkeyftw Post author

      I will think about a mothers helper! I keep telling Dad he needs a PA, I should take my own advice!
      I know I’m a risk for PPA, and am keeping an eye. So far I’ve been surprised by how non-anxious I have been, but I’m being honest with Pea about my mood and if I’m blue.
      Also, I got some sleep, and the changing of the guard has gone really well. Pea’s sister made a delicious dinner, and his mum and step-dad arrived as a bundle of nerves: they were so excited/nervous to meet their grandson (first for them both), it was adorable. They have plans to shop tomorrow and cook up some meals, so they are well on board with what we need. So I am feeling better for the moment.

  2. Mary

    Turia is absolutely right. Listen to her amazing advice!

    And ask for help. When you have guests, let them watch Spud (even if it’s just to have him sleep on them) while you sleep or work. And (maybe you’ve already addressed this) but is there any way Pea can get home earlier or even take some parental leave himself?

    1. labmonkeyftw Post author

      Yes, she is wise!
      Pea had two weeks of paternal leave, and will be staying home with Spud for the summer once I am back at work, which is why he has to be back at work now. He worked from home today though, and watched Spud for the morning while I napped, so that might be a good pattern for us moving forward!

  3. rainbowgoblin

    Yes, yes, yes. Try to let yourself be selfish, but recognize that you’re going to repeatedly be in the middle of situations where you realize only then that you should have been selfish (you will get better at that). Seriously consider asking the upcoming house guests to NOT stay with you. Pay for a hotel if they can’t and you can. And fuck naps: yes, yes, they should be a priority, but really, so many things are falling through the cracks right now. You should probably ignore me… I always found sleep felt like a far more important priority when I was asleep than when I was awake (this is still true for me, and probably always will be).

    1. labmonkeyftw Post author

      I am absolutely going to realize I should have been selfish late. That sounds exactly like me. I will try to see more things coming. Mostly we just have a great many family close enough to come visit but not close enough to just pop by. So extended visits from multiple people are likely to be an ongoing balancing act, forever. So I will do some thinking about how to navigate that!
      I also do not prioritize sleep. And I got almost enough last night so feel like there is nothing to complain about at all – meaning sleep is the main driver for my mood and hence I should take it seriously but I got enough so all is well and I won’t worry about it (today)! Ha.

  4. Turia

    Me again. When Spud stops the late afternoon cluster feeding (which WILL happen, I promise), try to have an arrangement with Pea where at least a couple of times a week Pea is in charge of Spud when he gets home. And I don’t mean “Pea is in charge of Spud after he gets home and has a snack and potters around for a while”, I mean you hand the baby to Pea as soon as his coat is off and then you leave the house. The late afternoon was always the hardest for me because E would be overtired and fussy and I was exhausted. And nothing helps a Dad really get it more than being left alone with an overtired fussy baby.

    Yes, he will have been at work all day. But so have you. And if you want any chance at all of co-parenting you have to find the spaces even in these early days to back off and give him room. Both so Pea can know his son and gain in confidence in himself as a parent AND so he has some idea of what your day is like. Otherwise it is so so easy for the baby to become the mother’s job. And if you are dealing with the night then he has to take on something after he gets home.

    I get that working all day is tiring but parenting is 24/7 and it doesn’t stop even when you are tired or sick or not in the mood. It should not be relaxing for Pea to come home after work unless it has been relaxing for you. If you are embattled in the trenches, he has to hop in and join you.

    Sleep when the baby sleeps is one of the dumbest pieces of advice given to new mums. If you have more than one it will never be an option so you might as well learn how to function even just with one. Maybe it is always said by individuals with magical sleeping babies who nap in the crib for hours and are happy to be on the floor watching you cook and clean when they are awake. I didn’t have babies like that. You do what you need to do to survive!

    It WILL get better!

    1. labmonkeyftw Post author

      Thanks lovely. Pea is fantastic with Spud, and would do more in a heartbeat. I will keep in mind to give him time and space with Spud once Spud relinquishes his so-frequent need for me. Right now, he’s on the boob all the time in the evenings, so there is limited help Pea can offer (so he makes dinner and brings me water and holds Spud for the five minutes between feedings so I can pee. He worked from home today and took Spud for the morning so I could sleep. But habits and patterns of responsibility form as a slow creep, so I will keep an eye.

  5. mamajo23

    Might I recommend you put the guests to work. I had a similar situation after my little boy was born and if they ever said ‘anything I can do?’ I actually told them dishes, groceries, etc. It felt weird but kept my sanity. Thinking of you during this beautiful/ terrifying/ exhaustive stage.


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