Friday, October 24, 2008

Baby time

In "The Chronicles of Narnia," there is another world with a time of its own. In Narnia, a lot of time passes while only moments pass in our own world. While this is fiction, there are many time dimensions that really exist in our own world.

My dad seems to have a time dimension of his own. People that know him would call it "Calder time." I've been accused of living on Calder time, too, though in my defense there are often factors out of my control and it's just my fate to get the blame when it really should fall elsewhere (I normally don't have it in me to explain, I just suck it up most of the time).

When my dad moved to Guatemala we discovered that Calder time was really "Guatemala time." I discovered there was a method to it. If someone says "morning," they really mean noonish. If they say "noon," they really mean sometime in the early evening. If they say "tomorrow," it means sometime probably that week and "next week" means any time that month. If a person says they can do a job in 5 minutes, it will take a couple of hours. If they say they can do it in a couple of hours, it is an all-day affair. Something that takes a full day will take a full weekend and anything more than a couple of days will take all week. Likewise, a job that takes a week will take at least a month.

I've recently discovered a new time dimension. It's "baby time." Ever since the boys were born I've been living in it. Dave and my mom have visited a great deal in baby time, too. In baby time, time passes in a strange way. One hour may feel like several, or it may feel like 20 minutes. Baby time isn't nearly as predictable as Guatemala time or Calder time. Sleeping in baby time is odd, too. 3 hours of sleep will seem like 8 or may seem like only 30 minutes. Even though the babies are typically on a 3-hour feeding schedule, sometimes we finish one feeding cycle just in time for the next one to begin.

Dave escapes baby time every day when he goes to work. He also spends a lot of time in his "cave," which is my term for our office. I don't think baby time exists in there unless there is also a baby in there. I live in baby time 24/7 - but I'm not sure if 24/7 is a term that really can exist in baby time.

I don't mind baby time so much. I've learned to adjust and live in the babies' time zone. I go with their flow, feed them when they are hungry, change them when they are mucky, and take care of myself when I am able to - when they sleep or sometimes when they are eating. It's easy for me to find computer time since I am pretty much tethered to the couch with babies on me most of the time. I'm tandem breastfeeding right now (for those not familiar with this, it means I've got both babies on my EZ2 Nurse pillow with each baby on a breast). I'm able to type when doing this, and this is often when I eat, drink, and sometimes sleep if I'm tired enough. Finding the time and ability to shower or prepare myself a meal is more difficult because that requires both babies to be content and sleeping at the SAME TIME. While I have done well to get the little guys to eat at the same time, it's not so easy to get them to sleep at the same time. There is usually one awake at any given time. If they are awake and left alone, there is usually a certain amount of crying or escalated screaming.

Fortunately, baby time is somewhat predictable. I can pretty much guess when they will want to eat and can somewhat plan around that, provided they both sleep afterward. So, for the most part, I'm tethered to at least one baby most of the time. I have a baby sling and have discovered the benefits of wearing a baby while trying to get other things done - adult things (get your mind out of the gutter - I'm referring to doing dishes, laundry, and basic household tasks).

The biggest problem I encounter with baby time is that the rest of the world is NOT in this time dimension, nor do many people understand it, even if they themselves have spent some time in baby time. I think many people visit baby time without even realizing it. Even Dave won't seem to realize he was in baby time - on occasion he'll say, "but that was 8 hours ago" when it was really only 2 or 3 or maybe he'll remark about how the babies just ate 30 minutes ago without realizing that a full 3 hours has passed and it took that long to change them, wash the bottles, and prepare for the next feeding.

We've been blessed with so many offers of help. The help is always needed and appreciated. The only problem with the help is that the helpers are not living in baby time and to accept the help, I need to try to make baby time mix with real world time. I need to make myself available to answer the phone or the door on real world time, even though the babies might be hungry, tired, or dirty. It's tough for me to talk on the phone, let alone return phone calls. It makes me feel like I'm rude, but I do the best that I can. It's hard for me to get out since I need to make sure both babies are fed and changed first, and make sure it's all done quickly so that I have some time before the next cycle begins. With the healing c-section and my bad arm, it's also difficult to get out since I can barely carry one car seat on its own without a baby, let alone 2 with babies, not to mention handling the stroller (getting it in and out of the car).

When helpers do come, it means I can't take a nap when it's convenient and I have to schedule my naps, meals, and showers on real-world time around the schedule of those that are coming over. We have Carmen, a great housekeeper, come twice a week for now, to help out. We need her help or the house might fall apart, but it requires a lot of effort from me. I have to get the house tidy or she'll try to put things away and they'll either end up in the wrong places where I'll have to do it over again when she's gone, or she'll be always asking me where things go, which means I might as well do it myself. Her time is much better used doing the things that we just don't have the time or ability to do right now - like real cleaning and not general tidying up.

So, again, twice a week I have to try to make baby time mix with real world time as I try to get the house tidy enough to keep things out of Carmen's way. I have to be showered by the time she gets here or I don't get a shower. Likewise with eating. I feel awkward eating in front of her, as I have discovered that she often hasn't eaten by the time she gets here and if I make myself a sandwich, I feel compelled to make her a sandwich, too, which is hard on me and also isn't a very good use of her time or our money.

She is very helpful, however, when the babies need attention and I could use an extra pair of hands. She sometimes comes into baby time and helps with a feeding when we are doing a bottle feeding (obviously, she can't help much with breastfeeding). She is great at picking up and rocking a baby when both are crying.

In this way, help is bittersweet. It's necessary and it gives me that little extra something I need to be the best mother I can be to 2 babies at the same time, but alternatively it causes me some stress on those days when I have to work in 2 time dimensions at the same time.

I have double the babies, why can't I be double the person and have one of me in baby time and the other in real-world time?


Steve & Kim said...

Lizzie I love to read your blog! I know all too well about baby time and you are so right! As hard as it is sometimes they are so worth it :)

Shelly said...

I can totally relate to your dad having is own time dimension. And I am very much so coveting your housekeeper right now. I am due in December with my fifth baby.