Friday, February 18, 2011

Other Babies

It's hard not to notice what Other Babies do. I know that comparisons are odious, but Ben and I are just trying to make sense of things over here. You see, we are given to understand that Other Babies of Bee's age sleep on their own some of the time. They may wake up a few times during the night (or they might just sleep all night), but they don't require being held by a parent in order to sleep -- every nap, and all night long. Every day. Always. While we slurp down cold dinners. (Did I mention we've been doing this for four months??) Other Babies, while enjoying being held, will, we've observed, succumb to occasional non-holding activities, such as chilling in a swing or hanging out lookin' at a mobile or something. Not ours. (Oh, and she hates being carried in the Balboa baby sling, the BabyBjörn, or our Moby wrap* -- nope, nothing but good, old-fashioned, prop-free, forearm-shattering cuddling for our girl.)

And evidently Other Babies can sometimes be shuttled about on errands and visits! Did you know this?! Today Ben was at the Mall of America on a work errand, and he observed several Other Babies being toted about while their mothers shopped or ate French fries. Oh my god. These infants slept serenely in strollers or watched the world with a contentedness foreign to my baffled husband. Other Babies are positively astonishing.

So, we love our Bee beyond all dearness, but she has extremely intense demands, even for a baby. In addition to only sleeping when being held in our arms, Bee has, at four months old, never once fallen asleep on her own. If we "put her to bed" (HA) after she finally falls asleep in one of our laps, those big, startled eyes fly open as soon as her pajamaed little rear touches the crib mattress. And the poor thing suffers digestive pain and is colicky, so she cries a lot -- often inconsolably for five hours a day. When I say inconsolably, I'm dead serious -- today she screamed in my arms for hours, actually making herself hoarse. (Does this sound like a baby who would simply soothe herself to sleep if left to cry it out alone in her crib? Be serious, people.)

Friends and family have ceased promising us that "it gets better," a phrase Ben and I heard almost daily in Bee's first month or two of life -- from friends, from relatives, from sympathetic neighbors, from random Internet strangers, and from the pediatrician. But it hasn't gotten better. In fact, if the it in "it gets better" represents our unbearable sleeplessness (we are so unimaginably tired!), it has gotten far worse. Ben and I have to take turns sleeping, which means we each get 3-5 hours a night. Any "extra" sleep one of us gets is subtracted directly from the other's. After four months of this, Dear Reader, Ben and I are a little surprised to find ourselves still alive. (Also, you should see the condition of our home. Disgusting! We're afraid to let anyone come over, for fear they will return with a camera crew.)

I can be quite a self-pitying creature when I want to be. (I know, you cannot believe it.) Although friends continue to congratulate me on maintaining my sense of humor, I'm pretty sure any levity you perceive while reading recent entries to this blog can be chalked up to what has been described as my perky writing style, for I assure you, I am quite humorless nowadays. Most days, either Ben or I wonders aloud how much longer we can go on like this, the other generally replying with naught but a dismal shaking of the head.

We don't want any of those Other Babies, though, and surely it's unnecessary for me to qualify today's complaints with assurances that Ben and I adore our spirited, sensitive, and clever little girl. But I feel compelled anyway, lest you become convinced, friends, that we are not grateful for Bee's generally good health and for what we believe to be quite a merry and charming personality (though frequently eclipsed by her physical discomforts and, um, constant shrieking). Being quite an eager and curious girl, Bee resists sleep -- there is so much in this world, you understand, by which to be fascinated. And curiosity and eagerness may someday serve Bee well. But right now -- I will confess it -- we occasionally envy the parents of dull, sleepy babies.

* Yes, we have three different babywearing options and they have all been rejected outright. Our optimism and buying power begin to wane.


Post a Comment