While Ingrid is a lovely baby, and getting lovelier by the day, I really cannot say that I enjoy staying at home and taking care of her all day, every day. It’s challenging and boring at the same time.
First of all, it can be immensely frustrating because there is very little feedback, and the little that there is, is very unclear. She is a black box: I am taking care of a system whose workings are hidden from me, and whose feedback is generally limited to two states: “I’m OK”, “I’m not at all OK, fix me!”. When she seems hungry, there is no gauge to say whether she is very hungry, a little bit hungry, or just feels like snacking on the breast. When she seems tired, there is no way to know whether she really is tired or simply bored. And no way of knowing whether what I am doing to calm her is (1) just right but needs some time to work; (2) almost right, just needs some tweaking; or (3) totally wrong and making her more upset. All guesswork. And to make it worse, even when I think I’ve figured out some part of it, that part is sure to change so my solution stops working again.
At the same time, I find it quite tedious to take care of a baby. My days are very repetitive. Change, feed, burp, keep her awake, try to get her to sleep. Wait an hour or two while she sleeps, and start over. And repeat all over again. And each step is the same every time. Getting her to sleep is especially boring: it generally involves patting her while rocking / swaying her in a sling, for 10–15 minutes, and again if she wakes up halfway through her nap. So every day I spend about an hour rocking and bouncing from one foot to the other.
The part that rankles me the most, I think, is the utter lack of flexibility. I cannot ask her to wait just a few minutes – when she wants food, she better get it immediately, and when she is crying out of tiredness, she cannot wait until I’ve finished my meal, for example.
I really am looking forward to a more communicative Ingrid. Much of this does come down to communication, doesn’t it? When her feedback becomes more nuanced than just “this is good” and “this is awful”, when it becomes possible to play with her while she’s awake, when she starts understanding what I say… this should all become much more enjoyable. I hope so!