There’s one thing about post-partum recovery that really makes life interesting.
After I had Cassie, I had a terrible time staying on my usual, cynical, even keel. I would go from feeling a freaked-out sort of mania (not a happy feeling) to outright terror and despair in mere seconds. Every time I sat down to nurse, I literally had a panic attack. It was so bad, it felt like the ground actually opened up beneath me and I was falling into a bottomless pit. During the first two weeks home, Michael had to go into work for a three hour meeting. I was twitchy and nervous when he left. When he got back, Cassie was sitting in her bouncy chair howling and I was on the couch in tears. I immediately jumped up and screamed, “Don’t you ever leave me alone with this child again, you bastard!”
I got over it. Eventually.
Things are a little different with child number two. Sam has a very different temperament from Cassie. Cassie was a colicky live wire that almost never slept and shrieked constantly. Because she didn’t sleep, I didn’t sleep, and that more than anything else was probably the source of my problems. I was barely able to function in my sleep-deprived state. I shuffled around like the somnambulist in “The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari,” my arms stretched out in front of me to keep me from running straight into a wall as I lurched around trying to take care of the baby.
Sam is Cassie’s polar opposite. She’s a limp noodle who sleeps constantly. In fact, last night I had to wake her for each late night feeding, otherwise my breasts would have exploded and I’d be one flat-chested mama this morning. She’s so sleepy that I can dab her face and belly with an ice cold wash cloth and it doesn’t even faze her. She just snoozes right through it. You couldn’t even fart in front of Cass without waking her up. A 72-piece marching band could parade around Sam’s basinet and she’d snooze right through it. It’s a little disconcerting (okay, last night it was unnerving when I couldn’t get her to eat) but Sam doesn’t terrify me the way Cassie did.
Another difference between this time and last time is the physical effects of the post-partum hormones. After Cassie was born, I lost a lot of hair, my skin turned all rough and scaly, and my bleeding flowed hard and heavy for over two months. This time around, all I’m losing is weight and the bleeding is no worse than a normal period. My skin looks better than it did in my 20s (although that’s not saying much), and I could almost pass for one of those fake, airbrushed mommies in the parenting magazines. Hey, right now, it’s 7:30AM, I’m dressed, my hair is brushed, my teeth are clean, I’ve got even got jewelry on and I’m the only person in the house who’s awake, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Physically, I’m doing fine. But none of that means I’m not feeling the ol’ baby blues. I am; they’re just expressing themselves in a different fashion this time around. Namely, swearing.
Now I will be the first to admit I swear a lot. Much more than your average mommy does. I’ve said it before, I got my degree in swearing courtesy of the US Army. I take to foul language like it was my native tongue, and when I’m really torqued, I revel in the imaginative use of blasphemous phrases and scatological terms. I’m a writer. Creative language is second nature to me. But when Cassie came along, I tried to cut back on the dirty words. I had to swear whenever I nursed during the first three months because it hurt so badly that it was either swear or castrate my husband. Outside of that, though, I tried to cut back. I really curbed the habit the first time Cassie tried to repeat a certain four letter word that I usually reserve for computer malfunctions. Nothing like seeing your nine-month old pull herself to standing, shake a tiny fist at your PC and shout, “Fa!”
So I cleaned up my act, sticking to just one mildly offensive word that I could get away with if Cassie repeated it. Then Sam came along and my language skills returned in full force.
Last night, I opened a kitchen cabinet and discovered someone had put away all my glassware in the wrong place. Nothing fell out and hit me. Nothing was broken or missing or dirty. It was just all jumbled up, which annoyed the crap out of me. So when I was confronted by the chaos of mugs and sippy cups, I reverted to true form. I uttered an expletive that I won’t repeat here and five seconds later, Cassie ran into the dining room and repeated it to her father.
This has been going on ever since we brought Sam home. Some little thing is not quite right and I express myself in my native tongue with a vengeance. Why? I’m not sure, except that I may just be feeling a little too good this time around. I’m up and moving, cleaning house and taking care of the baby. I’m waking up at 6:30AM, as well as at midnight, 2AM, 4AM, and any other time I feel the need to drain my engorged breasts into sleepy Sam’s pouting puss. I’ve got so much energy I’m not even napping during the day. In fact, the first day home from the hospital, I set about cleaning out our suitcases and putting stuff away. At 3PM, I looked around and realized I was the only person in the whole frikkin’ house who was awake. Michael, Cassie, Sam and my parents had all collapsed and gone to sleep. Of course, this led to a solid round of swearing.
How will I curb my tongue, I wonder? I know I’m tired, even if I don’t feel it, and I know that as long as I’m tired my language is going to be foul. It’s just a natural stress reaction for me. And with so many people in the house, I’m naturally going to continue to be stressed. Of course, as people leave I’m still going to be cranky. Eventually, it’s going to be just me, Cassie and Sam and I’m pretty sure my patience is going to be at an ebb for a while as I learn how to take care of two children instead of one.
Let’s face it. The language is just going to slip, and we’re going to have more “Oops!” moments like the one we had last night. All I can say is I’ll do my best to watch my mouth. I just hope Sam’s first word doesn’t turn out to be “Fa!”