Thanks to Google’s generous parental-leave policy and his accommodating coworkers, Bryan was able to take a month off after Annie’s birth (and will take another when I go back in July). Today that month has ended, however, and he is back in the office for half-days. Despite this easing into it, my solo-parenting has not gotten off to a slam-dunk start.
I’m tempted to blame it all on The Dog. She has been back in a plastic post-surgical cone collar thanks to a 6-month-old butt-wound infection that apparently her licking is entirely responsible for. Five courses of antibiotics barely made a dent, but put her back in the cone for a couple of weeks to keep her from touching it, and the wound heals right up. We tried to reprieve her this weekend, but she immediately chewed it up again, so she’s wearing that dumb cone until we can’t even see a scar.
Unfortunately, she still has not learned how to navigate the house in the cone without crashing it into furniture and walls, and she still tries to scratch behind her ears, making the sound of a truckload of empty milk jugs clattering onto concrete. She’s noisy, is what I’m saying. Really, breathtakingly noisy, in a house where sometimes the click of a door will wake the sleeping baby. (Other times, sleeping baby is completely unfazed by an accidentally-activated alarm clock blaring at midnight until we launch panicked out of bed to silence it. Go figure. )
Sous also hates thunder. Or maybe not “hates” so much as “is utterly terrified by,” something we can mitigate by swaddling her in her thundershirt.
So this morning it happens to be storming as Bryan sets off for his first day back at work. He has gotten Annie down for a nap, so the house is peaceful as he leaves, but Sous is panting with thunder-distress. I think I’ll just tiptoe into the bedroom for the thundershirt, but of course Sous can’t resist crashing up the stairs behind me. Halfway up I grab her cone to keep it from slamming into every subsequent step, but the damage is done: Annie is awake. Which is to say, crying.
Trying not to make it worse, I herd Sous into the second bedroom to panic by herself. I let Annie cry while I go for the thundershirt. It is not it its usual spot. I rifle through the dirty clothes in case it’s been swept up. No dice. I give up on Sous for a minute and try to calm Annie down with shushing and her latest-favorite pacifier. No luck. So now, an inconsolable baby in one bedroom, and a dog having a panic attack in the other.
I go downstairs to make a quick sweep for the thundershirt (nowhere) and realize I’m ravenous. I know I can calm Annie down by nursing her, but that will immobilize me for half an hour, so I grab the end of a bag of Fritos from the counter and run back upstairs. I let Sous out of the bedroom and tell her she’ll just have to fend for herself. I scoop Annie up to nurse: baby in one hand, Fritos in the other. Sous is trying to make circles around my feet, her giant conehead scraping against the walls. Bryan has been gone for precisely 8 minutes.
Half an hour later, though, the storm is over, and Annie has resumed her nap. And now, nearly two hours after that, I’m starting to want to go back upstairs to make sure she’s still breathing. But Cone-Head is downstairs with me, and I know how that will end.