Infancy. Again. “In the weeds”


by Rachael Ringenberg

In which our young heroine finds she was given a real baby, a waker-baby. None of this magic sleeper-baby stuff, like always falling asleep while nursing (Lux) or sleeping 5+ hours by one month (Lux) or never ever spitting up (Lux). No, this time it’s a real baby who wakes up every three hours to the dot, and would like to be held all the time extra please, who hasn’t the faintest idea how to fall asleep and gets rather upset about it, who detects a whiff of caffeine in my breastmilk and can not abide it.

It will never be this overwhelming, I said to myself last Monday morning after Joe had left and Lux was begging to go to the playground and Joan was fussing. This is it. The pinnacle of overwhelmingness has been reached. The next time I have a baby, I’ll have a four year old and she will make lunch for all us. Right?

I see normal, I see the glimmer of it, though I think it might still be two months away.


I hate repetitive conversational pleasantries. I’ve probably heard some variation of “zero to one is the toughest,” or “one to two is the hardest” one hundred thousand times. THE POINT IS PEOPLE, I would like to interrupt, IT’S A NEWBORN. I remember how I felt with Lux. I remember feeling overwhelmed. THIS is the pinnacle, I imagine I probably said.

There are times in the day I have to say to myself, quit it. She is a newborn. She doesn’t have to shape up. She doesn’t have to get with the program. She can do whatever she wants. I think I perhaps see her worst, through a glass darkly, at 6pm. I’m not seeing her, I’m just seeing all the stuff I haven’t gotten done. The absolute rumpus Lux has piled around me and throughout the entire apartment. The lack of dinner plans. The two emails (just two!) I was hoping to respond to.

But I see her best at 6am. She wakes up to the sunlight. She coos and stretches next to me and I wake up too. It’s quiet and everyone else is still asleep and we’ve made it through the darkness to this very second. I love that moment, a moment when I manage to open my eyes to the present instead of chasing something else in my mind, when I can watch her facial expressions and notice that her eyelashes flit out like a Disney chipmunk’s. When I wonder who she is right now and who she will be.


My mom once told me that she took up sewing when we were young so she could point to something and say “here’s what I accomplished today.” That’s probably why I find myself in the kitchen, baking something that doesn’t need to be baked by hand, dancing a very fine line where Lux is engaged and Joan is briefly asleep but perhaps soon to wake, but will it be after the dough is safely pressed into pans, or before? Last week I found an index card I had scrawled on years and years ago. “Finnish bread” it said at the top, which sounds absurd because it was always “homemade bread” when I was younger. I asked for it weekly from Mrs. B, a Dutch woman who started helping out my mom around the time when there was four of us kids. Before I left for college I finally asked her to walk me through the recipe, and I made scattered notes on this index card. And after I put it in the oven the kitchen smelled exactly as it used to when she made it.


Toast with butter and honey? Who could forget this delicacy? And what about cinnamon sugar toast? My college cafeteria used to keep shakers of cinnamon sugar casually on hand by the salad bar (like, you can have salad, or you can have…cinnamon sugar!). Throughout the semester, on not so good days, I would make a neat stack of white toasted bread with cinnamon sugar and sit down with a cup of coffee for lunch.

When people come visit our apartment, and a rather lot of them have been lately, which is lovely, when they make it up to the 5th floor after the two heavy doors that noisily buzz them access, after the tiny rickety elevator that lifts them four floors, after the small red carpeted flight of stairs from the kitchen they found themselves in after the elevator—they often look around and call it a treehouse. The ceiling is vaulted like an old attic, the windows are mostly enormous, and the tops of trees are visible everywhere. A treehouse that smells like fresh bread.

I think of this as a very easy bread, hard to mess up, leaving you with basic tomato sandwich makings or, of course, steady toast supply. I sometimes abandon the dough for more than two hours, if babies demand. And I particularly like the short baking time–fresh bread so quick!

Makes Two Loaves of Mrs. B’s Homemade Bread
1 package active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 t from a bulk container)
2 cups whole milk (or skim)
1 cup whole wheat flour
4-5 cups white flour
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
  • Dissolve the yeast into 1/4 cup lukewarm water with your finger and let it sit for a bit. Mix together one cup of the white flour and all other dry ingredients. Microwave the milk for 1.5 minutes and then drop in the butter to melt.
  • Mix the bubbly yeast into the dry ingredients. Mix in the melted butter and milk. Add 4 or 5 cups white flour and mix it with a wooden spoon. Dump the dough out on to the counter and knead it for a bit, adding flour if it’s too sticky.
  • Leave the dough to rise for 20 minutes under a damp towel or a bowl.
  • Split the dough into two sections and drop them into bread pans. Let rise for two hours.
  • Bake at 425 for 30 minutes.

This is the third piece in a month-long series entitled “Infancy. Again.” by guest contributor Rachael Ringenberg. Rachael lives in Boston with her husband Joe, and their two daughters—2-1/2-year-old Lux and six-month-old Joan, and writes about having another baby on her blog Erstwhile Dear She wrote this post when Joan was just five weeks. (Which is just one reason it feels so on point for me!) Rachael can also be found under the name girlpolish on twitter or instagramHer first and second posts are here and here, respectively.

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