record listening party

Society Girls and Boys

record listening partyI’m not going to lie: having a baby is terrible for your social life.

First of all, you just don’t really sleep for the first couple months.  If you’re breastfeeding, you are completely fucked for sleep, because the sadists that become lactaction consultants want you to feed the baby every two hours until she regains her birth weight. That’s right: you’ll be setting an alarm twelve times a day, every day, and counting those ounces until your baby manages to suck enough milk out of your poor tatas. If you’re formula-feeding, you might sleep a little more, but really, you don’t get more than a few hours in a row, for weeks at a time.

Not sleeping does things. I mean, it creates weird bags under your eyes, and wrinkles where you probably didn’t have them before. But it also means that you tend to trail off in the middle of a sentence, having forgotten what you were saying in the first place. After a few months, you might start transposing words, or just start eating word salad, but basically, you stop being able to talk to people.

And! Even if you can talk to people, all you can talk about is the baby. Even if you’re desperate to talk about things other than the baby, it’s not like you’re going to great concerts or gallery openings. I barely have the neurons to make it through a New Yorker article. Reading books? Pshaw. The baby occupies 90% of your brain, and the other 10% is used up wondering who you would pick to raise your infant if you suddenly died. You talk about labour, poop, pee, onesies, stroller mishaps, sleep schedules, doctors visits, babywearing mishaps, milestones being reached (or not), vaccine mishaps, and other baby-related topics.

I mean, it’s obvious, but your life rotates completely around the baby’s schedule. Eat, nap, tummy time, be a crank, wash, rinse, repeat, all on a two-hour cycle. Our ten week old baby has a ninety-minute window between waking and needing to be rocked to sleep again, and we need to cram twenty minutes of breastfeeding, a story, a session on the floor, and at least three diaper changes into that window. It makes going for a pint or two kind of tough.

And public spaces that accommodate babies are few and far between in Toronto. Restaurants operate at a dull roar, and servers will flat-out tell you to leave strollers outside (and they’re not wrong to do so). Coffee shops with a single freelancers at every table make it tough to wrangle you, your sister/maternity leave buddy/mom, and the stroller; if you babywear, you have your choice of holding your kid the entire time (#attachmentparenting), or just never sitting down. Toronto does have drop-in centres and libraries that welcome kids and babies, but they rarely serve ramen noodles. Change tables? Forget it, and get used to changing your baby on the bathroom counter if you’re lucky (and the floor if you’re not).

It’s the little things I miss. I miss going dancing, but the idea of leaving the house at ten PM is laughable. (Are mid-afternoon raves a thing? They should be.) I miss getting dressed up, but I’m just going to spray any clothes I put on with breast milk anyway. I miss going on dates with M, but parental leave income isn’t exactly lavish. Life’s rhythm right now is kind of unfamiliar: it’s simultaneously faster-paced and much slower. It feels like getting out the door is a major undertaking, but also, like getting out the door only is for prosaic things like grocery shopping.

And, finally, I feel weird inserting a baby into childless-person plans. A birthday dinner out, a crafternoon, a coffee date, or a movie: these are all possible to do with a kid, but my energy is split between the person I’m with (and it’s usually one-on-one time, as group outings are exhausting and overstimulating for both me and the baby), and the kid. That’s not a bad thing, but it is a real thing. And it’s a new thing.

I had one baby-date with a friend recently, and it was absolutely freeing to realize that both of us would randomly launch into a song or start saying things like, “Who’s got a dirty bum? Is it you? Is it you?” and then continue on with whatever we had been talking about before as if nothing had happened. It was like having a very gentle form of Tourette’s.

And that’s what having a baby is like—this strangely unbalanced time that is also perfectly balanced. It means giving up late-night plans, favourite restaurants, and about half your brain, in exchange for chubby cheeks, giggle-fests, and breastmilk feasts. It’s not a terrible trade-off, but man, good luck getting out for last call.

About the Author

Kaitlyn Kochany
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More about Kaitlyn Kochany

Kaitlyn Kochany is a Toronto-area freelance writer and editor. She had her son, NS, in January 2016, and has been trying to sleep and write since then.

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