Sobriety- Thursday March 22nd

I’m a Hazelholic.  I’m completely and utterly addicted to Hazel and 90% of my mental and physical energy is completely devoted to getting my next dose.  I even wake up in the middle of the night jonsing for a fix.  Hazel addiction has a few side affects: sleeplessness, disinterest in socializing with peers, difficultly concentrating on non-Hazel topics, as well as a loss of interest in personal care and chore-doing.  But one look at a baby toe, one glance at the funny cowlick in the front of her hair, a coo, a kick of her feet and I’m ready to forgo sleep and socializing for the rest of my life for another hour of Hazel.

When I’m away from Hazel, I challenge myself not to think about her constantly.  I try not to look at the 1,236 photos of her on my phone. I use thinking of her to motivate myself to get things done.  ”I’ll make ten calls then wonder what she’s doing right now.”  ”I’ll answer all these emails then imagine how fun it’ll be to take her to the park this summer”.

Like a true junkie, all I really want to talk about is Hazel.  On the few occasions that Tom and I have been out alone, I try not to talk about her.  We’ll talk about politics or our family or our jobs but after five or six minutes I have to ask: “What do you think Hazel is doing right now?”  Tom is always eager to indulge my addiction.  My Hazel tolerance is so high it would be impossible for me to overdose.  And the more I get of her, the more right I feel in the world.

I have to take my Hazelholism one day at a time.  I can’t let myself be overwhelmed at the thought of us spending so much time apart.  I try not to scowl at the stay-at-home mom’s I see when I’m on my lunch break (deep down inside I know that’s not all it’s cracked up to be).  And I certainly don’t let myself think about how I’m missing all of her milestones.  Instead I try and focus on how I’m her mother, and how this is the thing that I’m the very best at.

Non-Update – Tuesday March 13th

My maternity leave is over.  For the second time in my life the little family bubble we made had to get broken.  Tom and I couldn’t stay insulated with our child any longer (we were so lucky to have the time we did).  I haven’t been able to write about it because I have such mixed feelings.  I’m happy to be back at work, I’m heartbroken to have to leave Hazel.  That’s the simplest breakdown of how I feel.  The more complex version is that leaving Hazel everyday feels like a violent, catastrophic tearing of my heart. But that violent event is good and necessary to support my family, and I feel lucky to have a job that I enjoy and am good at.

When Tommy Jr was born my heart went through so many changes.  Meeting him made it grow ten times its size, trying to care for him tore it apart, watching him die softened then scarred it.  As that scar healed I changed a lot.  I lost a lot of my laughter and my ability to sympathize with people.  I feel harder now, more serious.  Sometimes it is harder to push my feelings into words.

This is one of those times.  I don’t know what to say, other than I don’t know exactly what to say right now.


The Time We Took An Infant CPR Class – Thursday March 1st

“Ok class” the woman said, “can you tell me what this is?”  She help up a household item so we could all see it.

“Toothpaste!” we shouted enthusiastically.

“Wrong” she said smugly.  ”It’s poison, and the cap is a choking hazard.”  And thus began our infant CPR class, which should have been called “How Everything in Your Home Can be Weaponized By Your Baby” or “How There’s No Way Your Baby Will Survive Unless You Raise it in a Cage”.  The class cost $70 per person, and I guess they thought just teaching us infant CPR wasn’t going to satisfy a room full of new parents.  Actually, we were the only new parents, every one else was a million months pregnant.  If I had taken this class while I was still pregnant, I would have decided that I’d have to give Hazel to my mother to raise because there is no way I could keep her alive.  According to the implications of the nurse who taught the class, even wolves had a better chance of keeping Hazel alive because they didn’t keep disposable razors or cleaning supplies in their dens.

Each warning was followed by anecdotal evidence.  ”You think your child-proof caps are childproof?  Here’s a story of someone I personally know who’s child took all their medication….”  ”You must cover your outlets because your baby will stick his fingers in the outlet and be electrocuted. And if you buy the wrong kind of outlet covers, they will pry them off and choke on them, like my friend’s baby…”

This went on for 45 minutes.  By the end I was searching my purse for a paper bag I could breath into.  I wasn’t just horrified by the instructor’s constant misuse of the word “literally”, I was terrified at the prospect of inadvertently maiming or killing my child because I use the wrong knob covers to the garage door and Hazel sneaks out there once she’s big enough to crawl and gets in my car and puts it in reverse and smashes through the garage door and doesn’t have her seatbelt on…

And then the CPR video began.  While I am very cynical about the crappy acting in instructional videos (I once contemplated quitting a new job because I was so offended by the lack of effort they put into the sexual harassment video).  The first scene introduced a young couple and their infant daughter “Emma”.  Mother explained that “Emma” had been off that day and as she goes on the explain her symptoms she glances over and notices that “Emma” isn’t breathing!  She begins her well-practiced Infant CPR (spoiler alert: She saves “Emma’s” life).

It was the first time in my life that I rolled my eyes and fought back tears at the same time.  As the video progressed, and two more couples narrowly saved their plastic babies using Infant CPR I had to hide the tears of fear and panic from my fellow classmates.  Tom G took my hand when the spunky interracial couple found their plastic baby choking in his high chair at what looked like an Outback Steakhouse. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that the video ended with the first couple having a awkward conversation about how glad they are that they “took that Infant CPR class at the local hospital”.  Kind of beating a dead plastic baby since we were all already sitting in the class, paid in full.  But I guess the director of the film just wanted to hammer the message home: Your baby is about to perish at any minute unless you’ve armed yourself with the proper classes, videos and brochures.

The last thirty minutes were spent practicing CPR on our own plastic babies.  I couldn’t bare to call the dummy “Hazel” during the part where we practiced shouting the infant’s name before starting chest compressions (Baby’s Name! Baby’s Name! Are you Ok!?!).  Without heavy medication I don’t think it’s safe for me to imagine doing chest compressions on my daughter.  Although when I got home I cut my nails painfully short, since the instructor made a point to say that if you have long nails you just dig them into the child’s skin, because what’s the difference if you cut her if she stops breathing.

We finally left, feeling more prepared and more panicked at the same time.  We raced home to Hazel, and I tried not to picture pushing her sternum down an inch and a half in order to pump blood throughout her body.  I told my brain to file that information away in the part of my brain that saves essential but unpleasant information, like how to make myself throw up and what poison ivy looks like. I tried to ignore the niggling thought that if I found my baby limp, not breathing and unresponsive I might not have the composure to start CPR.

In the meantime I’m relieved that I don’t have a stash of Mardi Gras beads, because according to Infant CPR class Hazel would break them apart and stuff them in her mouth the second I turn my back on her.

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