When I was around 35 weeks along with Micah, I stopped working. I ended up having less than four weeks before he arrived and that in-between time was such a blessing. I had been able to commute on the subway and work full-time because I thought, “That’s what you do. Work! There ain’t no baby just yet.” But once I let go of this rule I had imposed on myself, I realized I was able to do it only because I was on auto-pilot – it was something I just did because of course I should keep working as long as I was physically able. But there was no intentionality behind it, just a (natural) drive to receive a few more paychecks to cover increasing baby-related expenses. I ended up trading in money for time.
When I stopped working, my body started exhaling, melting into the bed and basking in rest, like a turtle sunning on a rock. I was able to invest in quality rest everyday. Something not readily valued in today’s society, especially in rush rush rush NYC, but oh-so-necessary and healing. I’m pretty sure I moaned in my sleep a few times. The rest was so delicious, the kind where you sleep with a small hand towel under your face as you cuddle with your Snoogle because the drool will flow.
I would wake up whenever my body told me to. If I had had insomnia during the night, I could catch up by sleeping in. I didn’t have to run errands on my short lunch break. For the most part, I would find myself with only one item on my to-do list for the whole day like, “Try making scones,” “Meet Anna for lunch on Austin St,” and of course, “Daydream about baby.” Enjoyable, short to-do lists. I could take walks. Or not. I was wealthy with time. I also tried to learn to be kinder to myself for once. I didn’t have to DO anything if I didn’t want to, other than hydrate, eat well, and think pleasant thoughts for baby. I didn’t have to feel accomplished by checking off a long to-do list. Very unnatural for this child of immigrants who is naturally hard on herself.
This time around, I am not as wealthy with time or rest. I do crave some more of each before we are in the thick of it again, the sleep deprivation and exhaustion. Two other life-improving features I find myself craving: a parking spot preferably in the driveway of an actual house and a washer/dryer unit within that house (our co-op will not allow it). I should be content with our present home as it is a blessing that we prayed for in 2010, but the heart wants what the heart wants.
Instead, I am wealthy with cuteness via my toddler who toddles around all day with his bright eyes and smooth dolphin skin. Yesterday, we started the rainy morning off with a load of laundry in the basement. The load consisted of all of his stuffed animals and some of his drooly bibs. Such a small task requires much more energy with a toddler because he will turn it into an adventure. We have to wash his friends often because they are overkissed daily.
Once we get into the elevator, he immediately finds all the slivers of reflective surfaces so that he can give himself loud kisses. “Mmmuahh! Mmmmuahhh! Mmmmuuahhhhhhh!” I also have to cover the panel of alarm buttons that is perfectly within his reach. We walk down a long underground hallway to get to the laundry room. While walking, he feels very affectionate towards me and hugs my leg. He stops to look up at me with pleading eyes like the Puss in Boots Antonio Banderas cat in the Shrek movies. “Up? Up? Up?” He would like to be in my arms. Down the looong hallway. I hate to refuse but I do. I would love to always cuddle with my morsel, too, but I need him to get used to my not being able to pick him up for a while.
I try to distract him from the rejection by making it into a chase. He squeals. He just has to stop at the boiler room to check out what the workers are doing in there. I wrangle him away. We finally get to the washing machine. I’m worried he may be shocked to see his friends, Bear, Elephant, Mr. Mets, Lion, and many more, get dumped into a machine that will spin them silly, drowning them in suds, looking like a scene from Titanic. “Micah, it’s bathtime for them, okay?” He actually helps me by placing them in there one by one, solemnly, like we are performing a ritual.
Still carrying a bottle of detergent, I decide to let him walk outside in the courtyard for a little bit before the rain returns and we are forced back home to wait for the wash to be done. But he refuses to come back into the building as he checks out every gutter, dead leaf, bush and puddle. No matter how many times I pretend to walk back into the lobby without him, he doesn’t care. He wants to roam free. No separation anxiety since he knows I won’t really leave him. Dude is confident. I hide behind a tree so he will come looking for me and we can get home so I can sit for a spell but he is not falling for it.
He’s had it with my fakeouts. When I walk farther away, acting like I don’t have my eye on him at all, he throws himself on the ground. Lately, he wants a LOT of attention from me, almost like the baby has already arrived. And why not? He has always received 100% of my attention. We are always together. He is in for a rude awakening come October.
I am panting and sweating. I just want to sit down. I’m still holding the damn detergent. He wants to stay out. Finally, he hears one of the groundskeepers’ walkie talkie go off loudly with static so he runs over to me, about to cry. I soothe him and explain it is like a phone, that it was loud but not scary (“No ah-yah, Micah!”). We get home after more elevator kisses to his reflections and my pleading with him not to climb stairs once we got to our floor. After just a few minutes, we have to go back down to transfer his friends into the inferno, the dryer.
I catch a glimpse of myself in the elevator. Grey roots, sweat beads on the upper lip and lower eye regions, disheveled low ponytail in 80s leopard-print scrunchy, no bra, in the most comfy rainbow “dress” I should not wear in public even though it’s still within my building, wishing I could look only half as elegant and accessorized as Mrs. Roper.
That was about one hour of our morning. The rest of the time we play, read, dance to his favorite song, John Mayer’s “Heartbreak Warfare” while I’m making sure he doesn’t fall off our high bed when gets too excited during the chorus. He also climbs my stomach from time to time because it is big and inviting. Oh Lord help me when I do this with a newborn attached to my teat.