This week I was in Boston for less than a day to defend my dissertation. My hearing was successful, and I’m done! Several years of coursework, research, dissertation writing…. I should be celebrating, consumed with the possibilities of what could come next in my professional life.
Instead, I got a virus. Not a cold, not the flu.
It’s the dreaded baby bug.
Somehow, without planning to, I spent far too much time around adorable, perfect babies during my trip. I stayed with a family friend whose daughter had a one year old with whom I spent much of yesterday morning. She was a smiling, wild-haired, pudgy-cheeked angel. (Dangerously, this young toddler made the mistake of letting me play with her gorgeous mane of hair. As the mother of a boy, I nearly swooned.)
On my flight, I sat in front of a family with six — yes, six! — perfectly behaved children, including a newborn who didn’t cry once and the cutest little toddler girl who sang happy songs softly during the whole trip and played peekaboo with me.
And I went out to dinner with one of my best friends from college and got to meet her beautiful baby girl with the biggest, clearest blue eyes and the coyest smile. During the whole dinner, she cooed happily and flirted with me.
I never intended for my son to be an only child. But to say that his infancy was difficult would be such an incredible understatement, and I’ve been in a sort of post-traumatic haze for the past year. Months of colic, breastfeeding hell, visits to specialists for reflux, trials of medication, milk protein allergies, nearly a year of completely sleepless nights, and then constant ear infections. The crying was so constant that I would literally hear it echoing in my ears even when the house was silent. Until recently — and I know this makes me a terrible person — I would see a baby on the street or in a store and would want to run as fast and as far away from this poor infant as possible.
But now my son is about to turn two, and I will be 39 this summer. I finally got my doctorate, and I love what I’m doing: writing. And even though my days are not exciting, they’re perfect for me right now. Here is a typical day in my life:
6:30-7 a.m. wakeup. My son is FINALLY sleeping this late, and it’s miraculous. I get him up (or my husband does), change his diaper, get him dressed, and get breakfast ready.
7:45 My husband takes my son to preschool. And then I have the morning to myself. I have time to shower, clean up the breakfast dishes, and blog. Until recently, I would work on my dissertation too. On Thursdays, my son is home the whole day, and often we head over to the gym in the morning.
11:45 I leave to pick up my son at preschool, take him home, and get him ready for his nap.
12:30 – 2:30 My son naps. It’s been a long time coming, but my son is finally a pretty good napper. Sometimes he’ll refuse his nap, and there will be tears (his and mine).
2:30 to 5 My son and I play, run errands, go for a walk, or just hang out.
5:00-6:00 My son eats dinner, my husband comes home, and general preparations begin for our dinner.
7:00 My son takes a bath, gets ready for bed, and is usually asleep by 8.
8:00-10:00 My husband and I eat dinner and then clean up, watch television, or do our own separate things.
10:00-11:00 I get ready for bed, usually read, sometimes novels but often magazines or nonfiction.
11:00 Sleep. My son doesn’t always sleep through the night, but luckily my husband is much better at “night duty” than I am. When I was away this week, I realized that this was the first time in two years that I had slept without being awakened by someone (my son) or something (one of our pets).
Now, to me, this schedule seems ideal. I know it’s boring. But if you had seen my daily schedule a year ago, it would look very different, filled with hours of inconsolable screaming, refusal to sleep.
It’s so selfish to deny my son a sibling or for me to refuse the long-term happiness of a second child just because I finally have my daily schedule and life at a place where I feel comfortable and happy, isn’t it? And there is so much that is wonderful about a new baby: their smell, their tiny little noses, their toothless grins, their squeals of glee, even rocking them to sleep in those quiet moments in the dead of the night. But also so much work and worry. I’m not sure if I’m ready to go back to the newborn schedule again.
At least right now though there’s no denying it. I definitely have it: a serious case of the “baby bug.” Will it go away?
Do any of you have any tips for how to deal with this baby fever? Should I let it run its course?
Thanks to Finish the Sentence Friday!