Monday, December 28, 2015

The New Adventures of Old Tina

I was out with my friend Whitney last night. I chose a bar where I could drink the kind of beer I wanted and also visit the bartender, Kat, another friend of mine. I have chosen certain Sunday nights as my time of the week to get away for a while and do the things that “old me” used to do. And also just to give myself a little bit of a break. This new life holds way more responsibilities than I’ve ever had and often times, I feel the need to get away from it, even just for a few hours. 

We had planned on taking time to write since it is difficult for me to do so these days, even though I have more to say now than I have in a long time. However, in true “catch-up” fashion, we simply talked, enjoyed a few beers and generally enjoyed each other’s company. 

As I was leaving the bar, I realized I wasn’t quite ready to go home. I thought maybe I’d go to the casino and play a little mindless Keno, maybe make a sports bet. I called Johnny to see if he wanted to make a bet as well. He didn’t sound bothered by the fact that I wanted to stay out longer, but he did sound distracted, like someone who has taken care of a baby all night and is now trying to get a few of his own things accomplished. I am quite familiar with that voice as I possess it frequently as well. 

So I hung up the phone and realized going home was a better idea. My breasts were beginning to get engorged from not feeding or pumping for a few hours and my wallet would be better off keeping the money it had inside of it. At least until I could find a more worthy place in which to spend it. I didn’t make the decision easily, I really wanted to go out. The immature child in me threw a bit of a tantrum as I drove past the street that leads to the casino and turned instead down the one in my neighborhood. 

I wasn’t mad at Johnny. Not at all. I often resent him for the time he spends away from the house doing his own thing, but it’s not his fault that I made the choice to come home. However, when it comes to our relationship, we are really shitty communicators. So when I came in, obviously frustrated with my decision to come home, and he asked what was wrong, I responded with a heavy “Nothing”. 

I assumed my post on the living room sofa and proceeded to pump my now very engorged breasts. He asked me again what my problem was and I responded with the fact that I was a little irritated that I had to come home to handle responsibilities when I really wanted to stay out and enjoy myself a little longer. 

“So, you’re irritated that we have a child?” he says. 

Like I said, VERY shitty at communication. 

Suspicious baby wants to know why
someone would ever imply that about him

* * *
Breast pump bag and work apron, new BFFs
This is my view at least four times a week for about 20 minutes during my shift. I stare at the back of the bathroom door and listen to toilets flushing everywhere around me while I use my manual breast pump to relieve myself before getting too engorged with milk. It’s a little better than the view of the brick wall in the parking lot that I look at while I pump in my car before and after my shift as well. At least in the car, I can listen to the radio. 

I would like to say how great I am doing. How amazing it is to be a mother. How I was so devastated to go back to work to leave my precious baby boy at home. How I miss him everyday so much that my heart hurts. I mean, this is how I’m supposed to feel, right? I’m not supposed to feel relieved when I finally get to leave the house by myself. Or when I get to stay longer at work. Or that occasional Sunday night that Johnny is home with the baby and I get to stare at that Keno machine for a while. I’m not supposed to enjoy these things. 

I got asked by someone the other day who hadn’t seen me in a while, “How does it feel to be a mom?” I responded back, “I’m not sure. I’m not really ‘momming’ yet. I’m just trying to keep him alive.” 

Recently, he’s been getting over his big fits, but generally speaking, I have a fussy baby. Not only is he fussy, he’s not a big fan of sleeping. This would make many people start up with the drugs that reduce these two inconveniences. However, I can tell that most of his fussiness comes from either being overtired or having gas. Neither of which I’m prepared to treat with anything but cuddles and bicycle legs. I know this is probably not the popular train of thought. But then, I never considered having a baby to be a vacation. And yes, I am concerned with him being comfortable. I’m also concerned with a learned behavior that feeling uncomfortable should immediately result in taking a pill or some other source of medication. So, I deal with my fussy baby and hope others can too. 

But it’s not easy. I wake up early, hang with baby for a few hours, mostly just trying to get things done around the house and get myself ready for work (a task that used to take 45 minutes to an hour and now requires the better part of two hours if I can’t get him to nap). I go to work and then pick him up after, where he is usually asleep at Grandma’s, wakes up on the 30 second drive home, screams like I’m skinning him for a good half hour and then proceeds to cry off and on for at least 2 or 3 hours before I can finally get him to fall asleep. By that time, I’m so exhausted myself that short of straightening up a little, I’m pretty much useless. 

When he is finally snoozing, I attempt to do the things that remind me of “old Tina”, like blogging, for example. But, like everything else these days, things that were really important to me in the past just find themselves shelved for indefinite periods of time. I really am waiting for my bathroom to finally just clean itself. I’m told miracles happen. 

I’m really not trying to sound like things are bad because that’s not what they are. They are just... different. And as someone who has sought massive quantities of change their entire life, I’m quite surprised at how difficult this new kind of different is. There’s so much to think about when you are trying to keep a tiny human alive. It’s challenging enough to make sure they know how to eat without choking and sleep without suffocating. What about when I have to teach them other things? Like learning how to count and how to handle social interactions? How do I make sure my child doesn't grow up to be insensitive? 

I’m told I over think things and that my life would be easier if I didn’t do that quite so much. Yeah, I’ll get right on that. Just as soon as I learn to stop breathing. 

So, yes, sometimes I’m irritated. I’m irritated that I can’t always make my baby happy. I’m irritated that I have to worry twenty-four hours a day about my milk supply. I’m irritated that my hair is falling out. My already thin hair, coming out in big chunks that they say is a side affect of the breastfeeding. I’m irritated that my relationship isn’t as strong as it could be. I’m irritated that I bought already made gnocchi and marinara sauce in a jar to have for dinner one night this week. I’m irritated that I’m at my pre-pregnancy weight but my clothes don’t fit right because of the different way in which my weight is distributed. I’m irritated that some drunk bitch at the bar called me fat. 

But most of all, I’m irritated that I can’t express my emotions at home without it turning into a power struggle or an opportunity for him to not-so-passively-aggressively question me as a parent. You know who tries to out-parent each other? Couples who have broken up. 

What I’m not irritated with is this perfect face that greets me every morning, laughs when I’m changing his diaper and tells stories while we sit together in the morning sunlight, preparing for the day. I’m not irritated when I pick him up from Grandma’s house, take him home and get my first cuddles in seven or eight hours (after the crying fit, of course). Nothing has been more successful in teaching me to live in the moment like the times he and I share together. 

It’s hard. I knew it would be. I just didn’t know how hard and I do my best to deal with it every day. As someone who has battled depression my whole life, I can tell you easily that having a baby does not close off those dark places where the emotions are so intense, it can be difficult to find my way out. However, he definitely forces me to find the light a lot quicker than anything else and for that, I do feel saved. 

I know “old Tina” isn’t really worth hanging on to but it’s always difficult saying goodbye to a friend you’ve known for so long. And being lonely sucks. But, hopefully the new year brings new ideas on how to like the new me as well as the new “us”. Old Johnny and Tina didn’t need to communicate so much. We just needed to drink. 

But no matter what happens, don’t ever question my love for you, Xander. It’s something that can’t be explained in words. I only hope with the years I have left, I am able to express even a small amount of what I hold in my heart for you. I’ll never give up on you. I only wish you will do the same for me.