Tuesday, January 15, 2013

It gets better...

What a difference a few months can make. Or four, to be exact.

For those of you who've never heard mention of the fourth trimester, it is a reference to the first few months of a baby's life when they aren't quite ready to engage with this noisy, disruptive world. So they cry and scream and generally make it known that they liked their comfy, cozy womb very much, thank you, and they aren't happy about being separated from it and thrust into the strange unknown.

Some babies acclimate more readily to their new environment and others rail against it, crying for hours on end (often referred to as colic). I'd say Ruby fell somewhere in the middle. She didn't have daily hours-long crying jags but she was, shall we say, testy quite often. She'd make her displeasure known by grumping often and occasionally screaming to punctuate her point. Mostly, she seemed frustrated. It was like she was just waiting, albeit rather impatiently, for us to get a clue. Sometimes, Eric and I would look at each other and ask, "Why is our baby so angry!?!" I never doubted that I loved her but there were moments when I certainly didn't like her so much.

We were often told that if we could just survive the fourth trimester, everything would get so much better. Well, Ruby took a little longer than the usual twelve weeks to come around. Somewhere around her fifteenth week of life, though, she forgave our bumbling ineptitude and decided to put up with us. Coincidentally, it was right around the time that we started to figure out her rhythms and to read her cues.

Now, Ruby is the smiling, giggly bundle of joy I dreamt of all those months I carried her in my belly. She even looks like I imagined she would, with her father's dark hair and my blue eyes. Not that it's all sunshine and moonbeams 24/7. She still has occasional hissy fits, particularly when tired or overstimulated. Most of the time, though, she's a happy little munchkin.

It's hard to talk about how difficult adapting to motherhood can be. Maybe because if you're lucky enough to safely deliver a healthy baby, it seems selfish to complain. That, and the whole baby industrial complex is predicated on the birth of a child being the most miraculous, amazing thing ever, if you don't spontaneously combust from happiness at the first sight of your newborn, you're set up to feel like a failure.

Thank god for my mama girlfriends who coached me to hang in there and commiserated with me and shared their own memories of newborn woes. I don't know what I would have done without them. It was such a lifeline for me to be able to whine and complain to sympathetic ears and not feel judged. As a new mom, I needed to hear that motherhood can be hard work and that it's normal to feel overwhelmed at times. I needed to know these feelings weren't a reflection on me and that I'm not alone in feeling this way. And I needed to be reassured that it does get better.

And last but not least, winter has finally arrived in Austin and with the cold weather, I got a craving for chicken pot pie. When I saw this recipe from the Kitchn in my twitter feed, it prodded me to action. The version above is inspired by it but it isn't a faithful recreation. While the biscuit crust in the recipe sounded tantalizing, I went with a good, old fashioned pie crust.