Thursday, October 23, 2008

For Crying Out Loud

As seen in Valley Babies
October/November 07

It’s amazing the things you can learn to do while holding a baby. Like typing, one-handed, a peck at a time. There’s a commercial on television that says, “Having a baby changes everything.” Well, they’re not just whistling Dixie!

Before I was a parent, I heard people talking about their lives with infants; using words like sleep deprivation, colic, depression… I heard those words, and many others, but just like any other experience, you can’t understand it until you’ve lived it yourself.

The minute after my child was born, I was blanketed in such euphoria. I actually told my mother, “The hard part is over.” I can still hear her laughter ringing in my ears. You see, I was so terrified of childbirth, of the pain, that I couldn’t see past it to the REALLY hard part: bringing the baby home and caring for him day in and day out. I was so smug! When people would ask us if he was a good baby, my husband and I would gush, “Oh, yes! He only cries when he’s hungry.” We felt good. He felt good. The world was at our feet. There was nothing to this baby stuff!

Then the crying started. Oh, and the baby was crying, too! It didn’t take long for the giddiness to wear off and the reality of the job to sink in. The sheer relentlessness of what I had to do began to overwhelm me. I began to wonder on earth I would do with this baby all day long!

It seems we had a colic situation, although I refused to believe at the time that he had colic. I became the mother every pediatrician hates, visiting and calling constantly, trying to figure out what in the world was making my child cry so alarmingly. He couldn’t possibly have had a condition that doctors really can’t even explain. Five weeks later, I accepted that the baby had some colic-like symptoms, but I still couldn’t bring myself to say he had colic. It would have just been accepting defeat.

The funny thing is, (and people who have children will smile in agreement), so many of the ideas you have about childrearing become laughable in the face of a screaming baby. You just plain don’t care that you have to hold him the whole time he sleeps because that means you might get to sleep a bit yourself. And when your mother reminds you how you said you’d let him cry it out, you smile through your own tears and say, “Please pass the Tylenol.”

Having a baby changes everything, indeed. The fact that it took me nearly six weeks to write a piece that would have taken ten minutes pre-baby is case in point. However, when I feel his soft hair against my cheek, and when he smiles his crooked little smile at me, the worries of my life recede just a bit. I can appreciate small moments of sheer bliss and know that having a baby has changed me.

No comments: