Life With Baby

Babies. Once they’re here, it’s hard to remember what life was like before. Life? Before?? Who can remember?

Caitlin, in the pink–but still in the hospital– at 4 months

My husband and I  moved to a new city ten days before my due date, so not only was I living in an unfamiliar neighborhood after my baby was born, I didn’t have any friends nearby. I also didn’t even have the baby nearby, since she was in San Francisco and I was in San Jose. What a strange no-mom’s land I was in: I had a baby, but didn’t actually have the baby with me. Hard to explain to people that I was a commuter mom.

But once we brought her home and I was just beginning to get the hang of being a regular mom,  it was hard  to know if I was on the right track or not. I missed my network of friends. All we had to go by was Dr. Spock. (And where was The Three Martini Playdate when I needed it??)

Finally home, at 4 1/2 months

We dealt with all the usual baby stuff: eating, sleeping, spitting up, fussing, ear infections, naps, no naps, eating, sleeping, socializing etc. etc.

One day, I took my baby girl for a stroll through the neighborhood. On the next block, I saw a woman about my age playing with a baby in her front yard. I walked right up to her gate and said, “Hi, I live up the block and I could really use a friend!” Luckily for me, Linda didn’t look at me like I was a nutball. Her son, Christopher, and Caitlin got to know each other well, and so did Linda and I. We played well together. She saved me from going nuts, I think. She also asked me to join her mothers group, so I got to know a few other local moms.We went to the park, met at each others’ houses and had parties as the kids all turned a year old.

One by one, all the kids started walking. Caitlin just got up one day and followed Christopher across the room. She looked at me as if to say, “What? You didn’t think I could do this? Anything he can do, I can do better,” which was to become a recurring theme over the years.

The hospital had been a noisy place, and we figured out that one way to calm our daughter down was to play loud music or run the vacuum cleaner. You do what you have to do as a parent. Driving around in the car–another sure-fire ticket to dreamland.
And yes,  I got into the whole Earth Mother thing for a while. I started out making all her food from scratch, cooking it and freezing it into ice cube trays, introducing one thing at a time and making sure that she would tolerate the new food. It was fun while it lasted, but pretty soon she was eating everything we gave her with gusto. No more ice cubes.
I also sewed most of her clothes: dresses, jumpers, jackets, and even tiny two-piece bathing suits. The stay-at-home mom thing worked out for me. Most of the time.Looking back, I just remember how much fun we had hopping on the bus and going “downtown” to look in the windows of the stores, and having lunch in the park; or taking the toddlers to the little amusement park nearby and watching them steer their bumper cars around and around the track. I loved spending time just exploring, every walk turning into an adventure of sights and sounds. Taking the kids to the zoo. And dancing. Lots of dancing to loud bouncy music.

All  my former co-workers had planned to take maternity leave and come back to work, but I opted out of that choice, and given the way things turned out, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

The end, for now

We lived in San Jose for a year and a half. But when we got the opportunity to move back to Oakland, we jumped on it. Packed up the toddler and the three cats, and came home–ready to start the next part of the adventure.

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