In no particular order, a few thoughts.
Lesson learned after cooking in France for two months: butter absolutely, positively makes everything better.
My parents sweetly got me a deep tissue massage in Avignon for my first mother’s day. Unfortunately, the spa sent the “cheque cadeau” to my address here, but because of the name on the mailbox is the owner’s, not mine, I never received it and needed to have a few conversations on the telephone in bad French to clear up the situation. I emphasize this because (1) I am not really a lover of the telephone; and (2) hello, it all had to be in French. Now, I took French from grade 3 through the end of high school but to call my French good would be a lie. Frankly, to call it barely workable would be generous. Thank god for Google Translate. When things turned quickly south during my discussion with the spa (“alors, lundi a 10 heure and vous payez . . .), I was frantically typing in “But it has already been paid for” and “I have your email of May 2nd confirming receipt of the payment!” Happily, all was sorted and I blew google a little kiss. Sorry Madame O’Connor – you did your best with me, but I need a little language crutch from time to time.
Anyway, a massage in France is pretty much like a massage in the US: low light, candles, Enya-esque music playing in the background. But there are a few differences: no modesty covering, for one. I had a moment when she explained I should disrobe and get onto my stomach wearing these sad string disposable “panties.” I nodded, like no big deal, like I had no qualms about my post-pregnancy bottom. But inside, my little puritanical American self wished the lights were maybe turned a little more dim. Also, they rub your belly. Like serious, ten minutes intense massage of this most vulnerable of places. Plus, I’m ticklish. I thought it would be bad form to laugh so I steeled myself against the giggle bubbling up, but that just made me inadvertently tense my stomach muscles which also seemed wrong, so I’d force myself to unclench, but then I’d be right back to ticklish. It was not the most relaxing part of the massage.
One week left in Provence. *heaves big sigh* It’s bittersweet: I’m really looking forward to being back home with friends and the kitcat (Topo has been living the life of Riley in our absence. He was less than pleased with the addition of the baby – though my darkest worries of him scratching or biting her were thankfully unrealized, allowing Topo to live another day – and has been doted on by a beautiful young Italian woman who is house-sitting for us. She whispers sweet nothings to him in Italiano and scratches him behind his ears and, judging by the most recent photo she sent, brushes his coat until it glistens.) (In other words, Topo is going to be seriously ambivalent about his family returning to the fold). What was I saying? Right, I miss our friends and apartment and New York, but it makes me a little teary to be leaving France. We went on our weekly picnic yesterday and at one point, DK leaned over and said, “Now this is vacation.” Our baby asleep in her pousette, us sitting on blankets eating the spread: sandwiches on a baguette bought that morning, olives, cheese, enormous globes of purple grapes, apple slices, sour gherkins, a baby bottle of white wine for us, a baby bottle of mama’s milk for Eme, a custard tart. We spent nearly four hours lolling under a tree by the Rhone, intermittingly reading, playing with the baby, daydreaming. I took a mental snapshot of our sweet girl looking up at the canopy of leaves overhead, legs kicking in excitement when the wind made them dance.
Anyway, so yes, it will be hard to go.
What else? We’ve been dealing with Sleep Issues this week and I am not looking forward to the inevitable horror of getting her back on a schedule in New York. Sleep is one of those randomly hot-button topics for new parents. As in, people are OBSESSED. One of the first presents we got when I was pregnant was on sleep training; it is the first question people ask; it is the subject I email other new moms about. And we are insanely lucky to have a very good sleeper – which I readily admit has almost nothing to do with us, and everything to do with Eme’s bred-in-the-bone personality.
Our pediatrician suggested we start sleep training when Eme went in for her almost-two-months appointment. DK was gung-ho. I was a little pissed off at the suggestion and 100% terrified. I had mentally prepared myself for sleep training to begin when she was four months – not this little wiggly eight week old baby. I stalled. I cajoled. I came up with a million reasons why we should hold off, that she wasn’t ready, she was too little, she needed me. DK responded with logic, that we’d try it, that it would be good for her, for us. That stupid jerk quack doctor, I thought. So at ten weeks, after our first week in France, we tried it. And it turns out, the quack was right – she was ready. She cried the first night for thirty seven minutes (I sobbed in the other room. I can’t even think about it now without getting upset). And then slept until 8am. And then did it again the next night with no interruption. And the next night. We did it! I thought triumphantly. Well . . . sort of. The backsliding began shortly thereafter. She’d wake up and at the first little whimper, I’d zip in and give her her pacifier, sometimes reswaddle, stroke her little sweet head until she feel back asleep (usually within five minutes). Since I wasn’t actually nursing her, I decided it didn’t count and it was almost like her sleeping through the night. Then after a few weeks of this, she started waking up more than once a night and I was rushing in at 3am, at 6am. This went on for weeks (But she has a slight cold! But she has gas! But she might be too warm!) until even I had to admit we needed to reset. Guess what, resetting sucks. Seriously sucks Because the crying feels like my fault. Because I was making her go though this again because I was too weak, because I couldn’t be consistent. She cried for an hour and nine minutes, starting at 1:50 am. DK handed me some earplugs, but I couldn’t do it. It’s hard to explain – but I felt like if she was unhappy, then I should have to listen to it and concentrate with all my might to send her love through the door. I completely realize that is basically a whole bunch of sentimental hooey, but it’s hooey I can’t help but feel. THANK GOD, after one night, she was back to sleeping from 8 pm to 7:30 am. But I’m trying to prepare myself for the plane ride confusion and jet leg and reentry back into her big crib and room without blackout shades. Poor girly. Poor parents.
Speaking of night routine, it basically goes like this: at 6pm, she comes into the kitchen with me in her red bouncy chair we dragged from home and we listen to music, I dance around with a lot of razamatazz hands to make her laugh, I explain what I’m doing, why it’s important to sauté onions for a long time, how to know when green beans are ready, I let her smell some crushed rosemary in my hand, or a slice of lemon peel. She responds by kicking her legs, throwing her arms up in the air, chattering, sucking noisily on her hand (her binkie usually having been discarded on the floor ten times), doing a random spit up when my back is turned, letting loose some very loud toots (which makes her laugh). She begins to lose her mind around 7 pm and starts rubbing her eyes, whining, hating her chair, wanting to be held and danced around. Papa feeds her the nighttime bottle I pumped that morning and gives her a last diaper change and gets her into her pajamas. Then I lay out her swaddle blanket, close the shades and start rocking her to sleep, singing a whole medley of Nancy’s Greatest Hits. I start with a little Blackbird, followed by Sittin’ on the Dock, then either Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone or Summertime. From there I hit either Hearts and Bones or go broadway musical with I Could Have Danced All Night or Where is Love from Oliver (shut up, I know the songs I know). I finish up with My Favorite Things before putting her in her little crib, where I end the sing-a-long with You Are My Sunshine. But I’m getting bored with some of these songs and realize singing about “leav[ing] these young things alone” won’t fly forever (But Mama, why did she go?) Any suggestions? Any favorite lullabies? I can’t do Rock-a-Bye-Baby – too creepy with boughs breaking and cradles falling, but welcome any new material – this mama has hit a singing block.
Think good thoughts for us Monday, aka Traveling Overseas With An Infant, Part Deux.