Baby One was one tough customer. Don’t believe me? You know how the nurses offer to take your wee newborn baby into the nursery for the first night or so so that you can get some rest? Well, the nurses brought him back to me after an hour and told me he was waking up the other babies. That set the tone for about one year of sleep issues. (Oddly enough, after a week-long cry-it-out session at 11 months, he has slept through the night ever since. Weird.)
This little guy, however, is an absolute angel. In the hospital, they only brought him back to me when it was time to eat at night. Why? Because he SLEEPS AT NIGHT. What a concept. He also sleeps in his bassinet / crib. (We have moved him into our room in a small crib.) At nearly six months old, he goes to bed at about 8:00, sleeps until 3:30 or so, has a snack, then sleeps again until about 7:30. Bliss! I even let him sleep with me after his early-morning snack…because everyone loves a baby snuggle, especially baby.
I suspected that Baby One’s sleep habits were not of my own doing – that he slept / didn’t sleep according to his own feisty nature. And I was right. Even from infancy, we have so little control over who they are as people and what they’re like.
They are who they are. And they are so different already.
We live many, many miles away from any of Blaine’s grandparents. My parents come out from California to visit a fair amount since they have a place about 2 hours away in the mountains. But they don’t visit often enough for Blaine to really, really know them. When we do see them, Blaine doesn’t seem to remember them and the results just break my heart. I envy those who not only have free childcare, but children who know and adore their grandparents. Blaine? Not so much.
But we may have turned a corner last week. My mom came to visit for three days (mind you, we just got back from two weeks of visiting in July) and stayed to play. At first, Blaine was nervous about being left alone with his Nonni, as if she was going to steal him away or, even worse, I would abandon him to her care so that I could get a haircut or go to the grocery store without bringing a pacifying cup of raisins with me.
By the second and third day, however, he was pretty happy to play with Nonni while I went off to (gasp!) visit the restroom by myself, work on dinner, or even run a quick errand. And the highlight of the weekend was watching my mom dance with my baby boy like she did with me all those years ago. He loved it. She loved it. I loved it.
It is so hard to see your children not appreciate your parents (and their unending grandparent love) like you want them to. I am desperately hoping that when my dad comes in a few weeks that Blaine will take to him like a monkey to a banana, but I know the odds are slim. He’s a shy little guy, and grandpa is not much more than a stranger to him. I know that later on in life, when he’s older, he will recognize my parents more readily and he will be more excited to see them…but for the time being, it breaks my heart when he cries as they try to love him.
Oddly enough, my sister said that she applied techniques that she read in ‘The Cat Whisperer’ to meeting Blaine:
- Don’t make eye contact at first.
- Let him come to you.
- Use a soft voice.
- Don’t try to pick him up.
- Offer up a treat or toy.
Seriously, my kid is like an ornery kitten. But it totally works. He loves her.
It does a mommy’s heart good when she teaches her baby something new. A few weeks ago I taught B how to identify doggy doo in the backyard so that he would learn to avoid it. So far, he’s only stepped in it once since then. I call that success. Daddy had his own little moment of joy today when he brought B into the garden to pick strawberries, and, wouldn’t you know it, the little tyke remembered (after only two times before) to pick the red ones, take off the green top, and pop it into his cavernous mouth. Daddy was astounded. I’m becoming used to him doing things like this – after I showed him once how to use a whistle, he found it a few days later and immediately put it to his mouth and began to blow. Genius! My baby is a genius all right. (For the record, I want you to know I originally spelled “genius” wrong twice in the last sentence. Fair disclosure.)
It is amazing how fast they learn and what they’re picking up even when you don’t know you’re putting it down, hypothetically and not hypothetically speaking. Makes me realize I need to watch my words and behavior even more closely. Or at least stop saying “crapstick” so often.
Everyone uses this day, and this forum, it seems, to laud the efforts and virtues of their dear husband or father. I’m not going to do that. Neither my dad nor my husband read my blog, and I already praised them on my other favorite social media outlet – the Facebook – so that all of their friends and neighbors can see how loved they are. I also called them and sent cards with adorable photos of baby B. Mission accomplished.
I want to talk about how jealous I am of fathers in the first year of a child’s life. Let’s compare the impacts of the introduction of a child into the life of a mother versus the life of a father, shall we?
- A mother gives up her extra-curricular activities, including rafting, running, mountain biking, and drinking for nine months. A father? None of the above. *
- A mother has to worry all day about whether or not she’s eaten enough iron and folic acid to secure the health and well-being of her fetus and then breastfeeding baby for the better part of two years. Father? Nah. He can still eat a Twinkie for breakfast and not feel the least bit guilty.
- A mother (often) quits work and must struggle with the difficulties of becoming an unproductive member of society. Fathers? You get to keep your day-jobs. (Debatable benefit, I understand.)
- A mother gets cracked, sore, bleeding nipples. Daddy? He just doesn’t get to touch said nipples…which he will inevitably whine about.
- A mother has to struggle to get her post-pregnancy body to fit her jeans so that she can stop wearing yoga pants and feel like a normal human being. Dad? Please, he’s had the same jeans since college.
- A mother gives up reading fiction books (’50 Shades of Grey’ is just sitting there collecting dust) so that she can read paranoia-inducing volumes of baby literature that will give conflicting advice on every subject from weaning to snotty noses to CIO. A dad will just look at mom and say, “Whatever you think we should do, honey.”
- A mother is pretty much tied to her child until breastfeeding is completed (unless you want to attempt to go an extra round with The Breast Pump, which nobody does). Hubands? They can take a five-day river trip and not be subjected to the slow, dull, suction of a plastic funnel attached to their sensitive parts.
- Do we even need to discuss childbirth? Natural or C-section, it doesn’t matter. Dads get to run out of the room and give the little squirt a bath while we lie on a table or bed and try to contemplate how our innards are ever going to recover from what just happened down there. (They don’t’ really.)
Please don’t think that I don’t appreciate my husband, because I absolutely do. And I know that the future will hold a very different balance as I go back to work, the kids go to school, and he has to talk to the boys about what kind of hellish trouble they will be in if they aren’t careful with drugs, drinking, college funds and girls. (He received a lovely gift and a delicious dinner of chicken piccata this evening – happy camper.) My darling husband is wonderful in every way and cannot help that all of these changes are inflicted upon the “fairer” sex. It’s just what we do. We are fair and frickin’ amazing.
*Unless you are my husband, in which case you had to give up drinking coffee and alcohol for a total of six months while we were undergoing fertility treatments for baby B. I had already given them up for six months before that and have yet – I repeat YET – to have an evening that included more than an appreciative sip of wine. I am a martyr.