Monday, September 5, 2016

Living Life One Day at a Time

Yesterday was not one for the record books. It started off shaky and ended with an absurd flourish of comical misfortune. But that's what being a parent is all about. You have good days. You have bad days. But you get back on the horse of life and give it a swift kick in the you-know-what.

Right now there's a large orange extension cable running from the master bedroom. It's powering the AC. That's because the bedroom circuit breaker is turned off. That's because the 5 wired smoke detectors are on that breaker. That's because they all turned on last night and would not go off. We've had a few false alarms over the years and usually popping out the battery backup does the trick. Not last night. Cue me running frantically from room to room while each alarm screams its protest at a life-saving 85 decibels. The neighbors must have thought revelations was upon us. Jenna and Michael watched my frenzied scrambles from the porch. Their blank stares said it all: "What have you done now?"

That's how my day ended. It started with diarrhea. And not from the baby. Glancing at Harmony, resting innocently on the couch next to me, you'd never guess she was capable of such an offense. While some dogs languish in shelters with uncertain futures, she cozily naps on a bed of cushions covered by no less than 3 blankets. You'd never know she was there except for the tip of her long snout protruding from the blankets like a brown snorkel. As I sat down with my morning coffee, I smelled something. And it wasn't Folgers. Maybe she got inspired by all those diapers.

From there, I left to get a hair cut and then run a few errands. Bad idea. When I came home Jenna was in tears. Though I had vetted this plan with her earlier in the week she now felt abandoned. Left alone to fend for herself. Attached to Michael, literally, and unable to shower or eat breakfast. Meanwhile, I jaunted merrily around the Maine Mall trying on the latest Fall fashions. Oh, and that hike I was planning for Sunday? Nothing has ever been crossed off a list with more vigor. It was time for a reality check and an expectations reset. I will be here when Jenna needs me. And Jenna will be more forceful communicating those needs.

After this light tropical storm the real hurricane blew in. We battened down the hatches and sailed directly into a white-capped discussion on breastfeeding.

This had been a long time coming. Last week was Jenna's first alone with Michael. I was proud of her determination to get out of the house. She joined a breastfeeding group in Scarborough and kicked off a new class called Blossoming Newborns in Portland. Both classes had a baby scale. The numbers rattled us both. At 3 weeks old Michael was underweight.

There is nothing that sparks more passion - and more judgment - than breastfeeding. Ask 10 people about breastfeeding and you'll get 10 different answers. There are so many things that can go wrong. And when it does go wrong it's deeply personal. After a long conversation we decided it was time to supplement with a small amount of formula. Just enough to give Michael that extra boost. So far, we've seen great results. Michael has put on a hefty 3 ounces in the past 3 days. Everyone's happy.

Trying to make up for my morning exodus, I spent the rest of the afternoon in and around the kitchen area. As an expectant Dad, I kept hearing that I wouldn't even have time to shower. But what could possibly be eating up all that time? Now I know. Bottles. Lots of bottles. Big ones, small ones, glass ones and plastic ones. And these bottles aren't like cups. Oh no. Cups have one part - the cup. Bottles must be dismantled into their component parts and each part must be thoroughly scrubbed. It's just like boot camp. Except, instead of a machine gun, I'm taking apart and reassembling tiny plastic bottles. From this day forward, Jenna shall never be in want of a clean bottle. Our sink runneth over.

For Michael, the afternoon progressed lazily. He had some tummy time. He indulged in some tree gazing. He napped in his swing. Meanwhile, I gave the house a deep clean, picked up diapers and rash spray at Babies R' Us, and took Roxie for a walk. That's one thing no one told me about being a new parent. It makes you feel productive. It makes you feel useful. It makes you feel like you've earned those Intervention marathons on A&E. At our jobs we work for pay. At home I work for smiles. It's hard work but worth it. Amen to that.

The evening was mostly uneventful except for the jurassic-sized moth that managed to sneak inside when the dogs went out. I tried to chase him down with a paper towel but he was too quick for me. I still have not found him. He's somewhere in the kitchen, lying in wait, preparing to jump out at an opportune time.

Probably while I'm scrubbing bottles.