Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Introvert has a child, discovers she's now always being watched

Li'l E is asleep (although we'll see whether she sleeps for more than half an hour). I'm sitting down with a cup of tea (this week, it's David's Teas' Salted Caramel, because I'm apparently in the mood for tea that tastes like candy). I'm finally starting learn how to carve out little moments in my day.

For a while, it seemed impossible to get anything done or to take any time for myself. At first, Li'l E and I had the double whammy of my slow recovery and her constant feeding (undersized baby more than doubles her weight in the first three months: oy). I also had a serious case of the New Moms, where I didn't know how to get anything done while she was awake, since she wanted to be cuddled constantly. But now she's growing up a little (and so am I), and I've been working on getting her to be more independent. Now, I can at least get housework done while she's awake, and she's just pleased that I talk to her while I work.

The next hurdle is getting back into the dissertation process. I really don't know how to work while she's awake: she's so demanding, and wants my attention constantly. I'd be too distracted to form many coherent thoughts. (I guess I could do mindless tasks and some editing while she was awake, but writing is another story.) I need a lot of sleep right now in order to continue to function, and so working after she goes to bed is out of the question. I imagine that nap time will become my ideal writing time, once I get on a roll. Li'l E takes several small naps a day, and during her morning naps I've already formed the habit of approaching them with the attitude of "I MUST WORK AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE."

Really, the problem is that I'm so tired and distracted. Perhaps reintroducing my SAD lamp into my morning routine would alleviate some of the tiredness, but I'm also tired because I'm physically catching up with the requirements of my new life. I don't know how to deal with the distractedness part. Right now, I'm trying to deal with it by taking a little time to be quiet. A cup of tea and a little bit of silence. I grew so accustomed to having endless quiet time at home over these years, and now that I have a small and loud constant companion, I find that I need to deliberately carve out quiet time for myself. I never before realised how much my mental health depends on time spent being alone and quiet.

So. Where do I go from here? I finish my project of organizing the house, so that I have space to work. (We really didn't get off to a good start here, with my inability to take part in the unpacking process. We've been in survival mode until now.) I get started writing while family is around to deal with the baby, and then create tasks that can be done during naps. I continue to allow myself a little quiet time.

And now the baby's awake, and I'm typing with one hand. That second cup of tea will have to wait.

Update: I just got a message from my grad secretary, saying that she's confident that I qualify for medical leave (backdated to the beginning of this school year), even though the terms of my extension stated that I could not apply for leave. Apparently my case is exceptional!


Dixie said...

Yes, indeed, the introvert has a baby. My good friend from seminary had a baby a year and a half ago and used that exact language. It was like a light bulb for me: THAT'S why I don't want to be near any body by the end of the day!!

I know you'll get the new rhythm that works for you and E down. Even though it will probably be an ever-changing rhythm. :) Just have lots of grace with yourself.

Queen of West Procrastination said...

Thanks, Dixie. It's easy to feel like a bad mother when I'm so relieved to take a break from the baby!

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

Any hope of a babysitter, even a youngish neighbor to come in while you're there? I wonder if someone from your church or school has a 10-14 year old they'd be willing to rent out :).

I'd also consider some kind of arrangement where you trade time with another academic mom of a young child -- that way when one of you is paying a lot of attention to two babies, the other can have some work time..

Nothing about needing a break from the baby makes you a bad mom... nothing at all..