September 2011

Post 20.

I’m having a bit of a crisis. thinking perhaps there is something i’m not doing right. or something i’m not doing.

today with zi was like the longest day of my life. i’m more tired than men in protracted wars. survivors of sleep-deprivation torture have nothing on me.

she’s finally up between 7 and 8 am. by finally, i mean she’s been breastfeeding for the morning on and off since about 5.30am, so yuh girl is pretty much done with rem sleep by daybreak. but by 7, she’s crawling over us like those american monster trucks crushing cars, though mostly she’s crushing my breasts with the palms of her hands or elbows and crushing her father’s balls and stomach with her knees and feet.

she’s loud too, with all the baas and gaas she can string together and she’s happy…grinning, bouncing singing happy…while of course we are completely comatose, our brains like those hard drives that you hear spinning, but which you know have already lost your data. i’ve been up breastfeeding at around 1am and then again at 3am, stone’s now slipped into bed around 4am. i’m convinced we have silent telepathetic debates about who is more tired when Zi wakes, and who should be the one awake enough to grab her ankle before she nose dives to the floor when she starts that marathon race to the bottom of the bed.

that’s just the waking up moment. from there proceeds a day, today that is, when she slept about 20 mins at 11am, 10 mins at about 3pm or so and then never again until after 8pm. yup.

now that’s just business as usual in this house. she stopped sleeping in the day at around a month old. my mother was convinced Zi wasn’t getting enough sleep because i was breastfeeding. i kept telling her no. then a couple of weeks ago, she called and asked me to call the doctor. she didn’t understand, Zi was full, bathed, dry and ready…and she just wouldn’t sleep. see, i said, i told you. i’m not calling the doctor, she’s healthy, happy and fine. she just doesn’t like to sleep.

in the beginning, i got really worried, i thought she wouldn’t grow if she didn’t sleep and her brain wouldn’t develop. the books were saying babies were sleeping 18 hours a day. mine was sleeping between 7 and 7, and was still up every two hours during that time. people told me to leave her let her bawl herself to sleep. i worried about that more. the girl was just up.

today, i watching the PM debate the state of emergency in the house of parliament. she was, of course, up and scaling me and the armchair like a baby squirrel monkey in circ de soleil. i knew she wasn’t hungry because she had just refused to eat more than a handful of pasta and three spoons of callaloo. she had breastfed for two minutes and preferred to chew on the remote. so, to listen to the speech, i put her in her crib.

that girl bawled for 45 mins. and did not fall asleep. see how exhaustion changes your philosophy about crying? after kamla was done, i went to get her. i expected her to be covered in tears, but she wasn’t. she’d just been yelling, mama, what de jail, yuh ent see i calling yuh, where yuh is, mama, ay, all yuh, doh get me vex yuh know, mama! for 45 mins. i picked her up and she was, suddenly, perfectly fine and ready to play.

after this, the day felt like i was moving slowly through water. i took her to the hammock, hoping to rock her to sleep. she cuddled up, latched on and kept her eyes open. we went to the studio where i thought the dark and a/c would lull her off. she decided the computers and cords were too much of an attraction, and started grabbing everything in sight. i took her back to the bed and she read her books and flung toys around while i tried to stayed conscious next to her.

its not the light, she sleeps longer in the dark, but not really. its not the heat, she sleeps longer in the a/c but not really. its not food, she sleeps longer when she’s full, but not really. and she’s prepared to bawl longer than i’m prepared to let her, and even then it doesn’t really make a difference.

i’m at my wits end. not because of the sleep thing. oh no! the last two days, she’s stopped eating well. i’ve hardly gotten anything in, except for oats. i think its because she’s teething, but i’m not seeing the teeth break out as yet. i’m beginning to wonder if she’s not getting enough nutrition because she doesn’t get formula or baby cereals. so, now i’ve got sleeping and eating anxieties. how come other babies seem to eat and sleep fine and mine is a happy, healthy, noisy, smiling, clapping, playful, mobile and alert opposite of that? am i doing something wrong? is this karma? is there a saint somewhere i can light a candle to?

i’m not really in crisis. but i needed a two hour nap today like an addict needs crack. the withdrawal is killing me. well, not really. but if you see me out there, looking rumpled, mumbling in the direction of the asphalt and rocking a distracted, irregular blink…at least you will know, i’m still tenaciously holding it together though my eyes feel sunburned with lack of sleep, sections of my brain seem to be detaching from each other and my body feels like the walking dead.

Post 19.

I’m feeling overwhelmed. The semester is beginning and i like to be on top of things and i’m not. i talked with another mother today and it seems this is just how it is. her son is 10 and she just realised it might not change until he gets to university. whew.

i love my baby, but i could do with a month to do nothing but write, all day, everyday, just to catch up to where i want to be.

the other side of being overwhelmed is being excited. in fact, its because i’m excited that i watch the hours and days ticking by, getting stressed while i get so little done.

i’m working on an issue of our in-house feminist journal. the issue is on indo-caribbean feminisms and its going to be super rad. i’ve got my own paper on theorising indian girlhood to submit, plus the introduction to write, plus all the papers to give a once over with an editor’s eye. i just have to….ummm….get it done. the issue was supposed to be up on line in september, but i’ve pushed it back to january. sounds manageable now, right?

i’ve also got a paper i want to submit to the Political and legal Anthropology Review, a journal that i’d love to get my work into for the first time. i’m extra excited about my paper, which is theorising from my phd thesis. yet, i’m also feeling intense trepidation. i just haven’t had the time to dedicate to it, time enough to send it off confidently knowing that it shows my capacity. is everything i do over the next few years going to feel like complete mediocrity?

then there’s that paper to present in november, on digital media, which i know nothing about, but thought i’d do fine with at the time. what was i thinking?

as i assess what’s in front of me, my brain moves from thinking ‘manageable’ to just thinking ‘aaacckkk’. that’s about as articulate or lucid as i can be. seriously. there it is again. aaaaackkkk.

that’s only the top of the iceberg or the avalanche depending on whether i’m focusing on the present or attempting to predict what’s ahead. i’ve also got a book chapter on women and islam due in january and new research i want to add to it, when i don’t know. and i’m caught between working on my book prospectus which is only three years overdue and finding the right words for a abstract, for a super fancy big word kind of brain-ticking workshop that i’d love to go to, due on the 12th. and here is me, alas, with only two arms.

that’s only 4 of the 24 things at the top of the list, which includes class beginning next week, a new course to write and even, somewhere in there, that little known activity called reading. that thing that academics do. i hardly have time or energy to glance at that list any more. and i’m not reassured by the fact that its not only me.

people tell me how academia is so flexible, but sometimes i dream of a 9-5 because academics have to write and writing takes time, quiet, thoughts and words – lots and lots. and its a real dilemma because more writing means less time with Zi, who i already spend only three full days with a week. why make a baby if she’s not going to see me?

professional women, often in their thirties, are entering the top tiers of their careers, just when the ticking biological clock sounds loud in their ear. and therein is the dilemma. you can’t do both, but you might have to. and when one has to suffer, which will it be? they call it publish or perish for a reason, but also wrapped up in your work is identity, confidence, challenge and satisfying investment of energy. those too are wrapped up in your baby, the one who doesn’t sleep day or night and who, of course, is currently teething and cranky.

today, its the avalanche i’m feeling.

so, this too is motherhood. the loss of career, the sacrifice of time and self, the reckoning with life over which you no longer have full control, the knowing that if you could just lock yourself off to work you’d be a superstar, except you can’t and so you won’t. i’ve always heard about competing career-family pulls for women, and about how you are not going to do either really well if you are trying to do both. i just never really knew that, when you are in that place, all it sounds like is


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