Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Life is a Luv's Commercial

Do you remember those old Luv's diaper commercials about the people who had rose-colored expectations about what having a baby would be like? The tagline was like, "Get real, and then get Luv's." Because Luv's were the Suave shampoo of diapers, cheaper but just as good. I feel like the ad agency that came up with that campaign must have been populated with actual parents because it's exactly how I feel. My expectations were all earth mothers filmed through cheese cloth - I was going to have a natural, drug free labor; I wasn't going to let that baby leave my sight in the hospital; formula was never going to touch his lips; breastfeeding was going to be second nature; I would never hear him whimper and think, "maybe he'll go back to sleep"... But not everyone can be that softly lit earth mother. Mom has always said that when it comes to having kids, "never say never." But before you have a baby, those nevers don't seem unreasonable. They even feel like common sense.

In reality, after 18 hours of labor I consented to an epidural (total labor time: 22 hours). In reality, after being up for more than 24 hours (laboring for most of them), the endlessly wailing infant became too much and we took the nurses up on their offer to take him to the nursery for a couple of hours so we could sleep. In reality, breastfeeding was not a natural, easy process and Walt didn't gain enough weight, so we had to start supplementing with formula at 7 weeks. In reality, it just isn't possible to leap to every sad little baby noise. A lot of them aren't even actually sad noises, they're just the baby practicing different sounds to see how they feel. And in reality, at some point, you really just want to get a little more sleep.

There are some fantasies even I don't harbor - making my own baby food; banning tv from any room the baby is in; hiring a Chinese nanny so he'll grow up bilingual and really for a world market in which China is king... But I do think I'll try to keep from introducing sugar until he's more than a year old. And I want to expose him to as many different vegetables as possible. But that seems reasonable, doable to me. When I was growing up, Mom cooked us lots of meals with ingredients we didn't recognize. Her rule was always that we had to try everything, but it was okay if we didn't like it. I hope I can be like my mom, that I can be a creative cook for Walt and not take it personally when he complains about what I've made. But never say never... :)

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Worst Sound in the World

Yesterday Walt had his two month Well Baby appointment and received his first vaccines - three shots and one liquid. Your parents warn you, "It's harder on you than on your baby." Your pediatrician tells you, "He forgets almost immediately, so it's the parents that are really hurt when baby gets shots." Intellectually, you can know that it will be hard. But nothing can adequately prepare you for your baby's first shots.

I thought I would do okay because I made it through the heel sticks at birth without tears. And Walt had "slow blood," so it took multiple pokes and several minutes to complete each stick. But his reaction to the two shots in one thigh and one shot in the other was so awful; I was completely unprepared. His scream was this high pitch wail, different from any of his normal cries. His entire body turned bright red with the initial two shots, which were done rapidly, one after the other. His redoubled scream with the third shot was cut a little short as he ran out of air. And there was nothing I could do to make it any better. I really didn't think I would cry, but how can you not when your baby is in such distress?

I said out loud, as if to reassure myself, "It's better than whooping cough. He might not know it, but he doesn't want polio." But that's small comfort when every fiber of your being says, "There has to be a better way to do this."

We survived and Walt spent much of the day sleeping off the experience. I told Pete that next time, he's coming too because I can't contemplate listening to that alone again. I don't know why I think having Pete there will make it any better, but perhaps that's another mystery of early parenthood.