Have you seen that TV commercial with three moms at a playdate? It’s for something like Doritos, and they’re sitting around eating whatever it is the commercial is about while their babies sleep peacefully in their bucket seats.
I used to hate that commercial.
It was on a few years ago, around (or shortly after) the time Connor was a baby. I can think of ONE time he slept peacefully in his bucket seat. He was a few weeks old and I had come home from somewhere and he had fallen asleep in the car. And he slept for at least two hours after I got home, which I thought was just dandy. Except he never did it again.
Play dates saved my sanity that first year (inasmuch as my sanity was saved), but they were not play dates where we sat around eating chips while our babies slept in their car seats. They were mostly breastfeeding fests, and while that was great — it was nice to sit on someone else’s couch and nurse a baby instead of sitting by myself on my own couch nursing a baby — I was very aware that my baby was the fussy one.
It didn’t take a play date with other (relatively calm) babies for me to notice that. No, that was my reality day in and day out for months. And everyone else was aware of it too (though very accepting, I must say). One day I went to a baby group at the nearby public health clinic. Connor was doing his fussy Connor thing as we came down the hall, and a friend of mine yelled out, “Here comes Connor!” It was impossible to go anywhere without people knowing we were coming.
If I sound bitter then you’ll understand why I hated that commercial. Because that was not my reality. It was the reality I felt I had been promised – babies sleep a lot, right? So, sure, I’ll be able to sit around eating chips with my friends while my baby snores nearby.
Now, you should understand that I’m not quite that deluded. (But my level of delusion about what having a baby would be like really needs to be a post unto itself.) I just didn’t expect it to be SO DAMN HARD. And that stupid commercial just reminded me of how hard it was.
We’re now two months in with baby #2. And so far this is much more what I thought having a baby would be like. He goes to sleep all on his own sometimes. And he likes cuddles and sometimes needs to be bounced but not ALL THE DAMN TIME. My quads are worse for it but my mind is better.
I know this time that babies sometimes need help to go to sleep. (Seriously, I should write a post about my delusion.) And I know how to tell when they need to go to sleep. With Ethan there’s the usual (glassy eyes, yawning) but the tell-tale sign with him is that his eyebrows go red. We have a tough time getting him to nap in the morning but when we manage to hit that sweet spot (a very short window, though Connor’s was shorter) everything works a treat. The whole day generally goes well, in fact. He goes to sleep (by himself! Not on me!). He wakes up. He eats. He plays. He gets sleepy-eyed and red-eyebrowed and he goes back to sleep. Repeat.
I’m doing a mom and baby yoga class with Ethan and I’ve only ever had to pause during class once in five weeks to feed him. I would never have even taken Connor to a mom and baby yoga class because it would have seriously zapped everyone else’s zen. But Ethan is different. I can take him to a grocery store without having to leave a cart full of groceries and flee home so I can cry about my crying baby. I can even go for lunch with a co-worker and not have to stand there bouncing a baby in between frantic bites of sandwich.
Ethan’s not perfect, though. Don’t get me wrong. (No, perfect is the wrong word. No baby is perfect. “Perfect” babies — if they didn’t ever cry or fuss or refuse to go to sleep at the requisite time — would be boring. They wouldn’t grow up to contribute anything to the world (and Connor is going to be a force to be reckoned with, you can be sure). Instead let’s say this: Ethan is not without challenges.) On the days when he doesn’t sleep very well I get flashbacks (Post Traumatic Connor Disorder, we call it). At the moment I despair of ever again sleeping more than three hours at a time. And if he’s hungry and you don’t feed him right away, you had better be wearing ear plugs because, damn, that kid has a set of lungs.
But still. This time around is much closer to my own unedited version of a Doritos commercial and I’m grateful for it.
Two months in, and I think I’ve decided that it’s going to be all right.