Their chubby little toes, big gummy grins, wide, perfect eyes adorned with long eyelashes that squint just the perfect amount when they giggle. Dimples on their little hands, on their rosy cheeks, and the softest skin you kiss over and over again.
Everyone wants babies.. like THIS. In the perfect vacuum that daydreaming brings, or for those awaiting a second, or third, or maybe even grandkids, wherin time has erased the flaws, THIS is what babies are. On the cusp of a new baby, we see giggly bliss with the angelic faces everywhere.
|"Buzz off Mom, Dad is hilarious and doesn't carry food with him all the time, so I can think about other things. Like how funny he is"
I assure you, this is not reality. Reality is a little more.. well fluid-filled.
I, like most mothers, adore my baby. I think he’s possibly the cutest little thing on the whole planet, and I spend most of my day kissing him all over. It doesn’t mean, however, that having another baby has turned me into a liar.
People always ask, in the sort of rhetorical way that means I am to nod and smile,
And always, I am confronted with a strange look when I smile and answer,
“No, he’s actually a terrible baby”.
All I can think is why do people insist on asking that question to every mother when they don’t really want to know the difference. And, why as mothers who are on the brink of a mild psychotic episode, are we conditioned to always answer “Yes”. Because let me tell you, I went in to this whole baby thing assuming babies were awesome. And easy. Because that’s all the damn information anyone ever gave me.
Oh, but wait until you have a bad baby. THEN the real stories come out. The stories that would have been a whole lot more helpful BEFORE you started to contemplate your parenting skills after telling your mildly afraid husband that you were thinking about throwing the baby out the window. (For the record, I seem to remember Mike telling me not to do that because we’d have to replace the window.)
Let me be here to tell you that not all babies are created equal. And I whole heartedly believe that in exchange for the perfect specimen of baby cuteness I received, I am paying with sleepless nights, and a food obsessed baby that nurses so aggressively, I feel like I might need victim services.
I’ve told many stories about Ben as a baby who put me through my paces. He had a sore tummy, (thanks colic) and I was at my wit’s end trying to deal with his incessant crying as a girl in her early 20’s, far, far away from family, with a husband who works shift work. Luckily I had some fantastic friends who I truly believe, are the reason I didn’t leave Ben on someone’s door step, probably on the most expensive acreage, on one of my many cross country drives I took trying to settle him down. But what I heard from all the kind faces when I was bouncing, and swinging, and doing some seriously Cirque Du Soleil moves trying to comfort the uncomfortable baby, was that I would never, have another like this.
After having Belle, I even said that to women experiencing the same pain I went through with my eldest. “Oh no!!” I exclaimed, “This won’t happen again.”
I was so sure of myself that I had another baby. Third times a charm they say. Every grown person I know who happens to be the baby in the family, has a mother that claims that they were soooo easy. The baby of the family gets neglected because they are so laid back. The baby is the quiet ninja.. people almost forget to take the baby in because the baby doesn’t make a peep.
WTF liars… this is SOO not my experience. My baby is demanding. And he doesn’t sleep, and let me tell you people, he CERTAINLY does not get neglected in his quietness. Oh no, in fact I think little Mr. Baby will owe his older siblings some serious retribution for counseling when they are adults.
Psychologist: Ben or Belle when did you first start feeling anger towards your mother.
Ben or Belle: Well, probably around the time my brother was born. She started wandering around in pajamas, and muttering about coffee, and wine. Then she threatened to run away with the circus, but probably not the circus because they sort of stink, so maybe with some sort of non animal circus, but definitely one with men dressed in sequins.
I imagine this is what my other two will have to recall of these first few months of their brother’s life. And I try to reason with the infant. “Why, oh why don’t you sleep? Your brother and sister deserve more than a zombie mom.”
Then he’ll go and sleep 6 hours or something wonderful like that, and I will be up at 3 hours into this magnificent sleep because the baby has now sleep trained ME to get up every 3 hours and no matter what I do, I find it a physical impossibility to sleep any longer. And now I’m mad at myself, but so proud of the baby that I feel hope! So much hope that he figured it out. Then he promptly goes 14 steps backward and wakes up every 45 minutes the next night.
Oh, I know everyone is thinking, well sure, you aren’t getting much sleep, but what about the glorious waking hours you get to spend with the baby in the day.
Oh my friends, they aren’t glorious. Well I’d say NOW I’m at like 60% glorious per hours awake. He’s high maintenance to say the least. He likes someone to entertain him. He’s not crazy about exersaucers, he’d rather a person hold him while he jumps, and would prefer funny faces to be made at him while doing so. Oh, and the said person would probably have to be either Me, or Mike. So, very helpful in getting things done around the house.
He’s also an EPIC barfer. He will, and consistently illustrates with wrecked outfit after wrecked outfit, that he can, and will barf on anyone, all day long. I begged two pediatricians and a family doctor for something to make him stop.. but this little nugget kept gaining weight despite the frequent purging episodes. So, as my pediatrician said, “It’s sort of just a laundry problem”. The doctor is lucky I didn’t react as violently as the scene unfolded in my mind.
Now I briefly talked about this baby and food. He’s a monster. I actually asked Mike the other morning if I could come in and make a statement because I was being physically, emotionally, and verbally assaulted by my infant. He laughed, but I was quite serious.
Unfortunately, he has inherited a ‘perfect storm’ of traits, if you will. I have a temper, a pretty hot one too, and Mike has a thing about his food. Picture an older dog with his bone being taken away. Imagine that dog’s response, and now perfectly carry that over to Mike’s reaction to someone interfering with him eating. Now combine that with a very hot temper.
I have bruises, scrapes, and cuts all over my nursing equipment from this little monster dive bombing, and clawing me for food. Mike frequently hears squealing and yelling coming from the recliner while I nurse, and that’s just the baby. He is crazy about food, and he ALWAYS thinks he’s hungry. If I didn’t know better, I would assume he was the runt of the litter always trying to get food and the others not letting him in. I assure you, however, that his rolly polly little body tells a MUCH different story.
So here I am, a mom with a third baby who is not at all what was promised to her. Oh yes, his physical beauty puts other babies to shame, and I’m certain when his tummy stops giving him trouble, the hilarious snapshots of his personality we get to see in between storms, will make me look back at these days and laugh.
Right now, though, I’m just trying to keep going. I invoke the words of a determined fish I once knew, and I “just keep swimming, swimming, swimming…”
PS. He also makes a liar out of me as his job. See me in public and chances are he’ll grin, coo and then fall asleep. Don’t believe him.
|"Mom, no one believes you. Look at this face. Are you kidding. I win everytime."|
*Disclaimer- While I am poking fun at my experience with my babies, I don’t mean to offend anyone who has gone through real and trying post-partum depression, anxiety, or scary thoughts. I owe a lot to my awesome, and terribly unflappable husband, and friends and family for keeping me sane. Not all people have this kind of support system, and I sometimes think if people were a little more honest with eachother, more women wouldn't feel so ashamed about getting help.