A Second Tour of (Baby) Duty
My wife is having a baby in mid to late August. For those who are regular readers, you know we already have one child, Parker, who just turned three this week. Today on the way to the store and we starting talking about what we were expecting to experience when this new addition to the household arrived. It was odd, but it caught me just how quickly the conversation got framed in military terms. Lots of talk about “hunkering down” and “knowing what’s around the corner” and “having the right weapons to face the challenges” and so on. You’d think we were preparing to enter a battle arena, or were being dropped behind enemy lines in the middle of a hostile jungle.
Now don’t get me (us) wrong. We love Parker, and we are excited about the new baby. We’re looking forward to it. But Parker was, well…brutal as a newborn. Now I’m sure some have (and have had) it worse. Much worse. But that fact didn’t make the early months of Parker’s existence any easier. For one, she never slept. At night you were lucky if you got 7 hours of broken up sleep. During the day: zero. Absolutely nothing. No naps at all, ever. And she cried a lot. And she had continual feeding problems. We remember feeling shell shocked for months. Of course, add to that the normal stuff, specifically that we had no idea what the hell we were doing and were trying, without any daycare, to do two full time jobs while babysitting a non-sleeping kid (with no families around to help either — bah!). Fun it was not!
She’s great now, but it wasn’t pleasant for a while there. So with that in mind, we were talking about this baby. “We know what the enemy is like now” we found ourselves saying. “We know what its got, where it hides, what kind of weaponry it uses.” We also found ourselves talking like seasoned vets. “I know what artillery to bring to that battle,” I said. “I won’t find myself trigger happy and on edge at a mere sound out in the jungle,” she said, bringing to mind the picture of the soldier who, afraid of the unknown in the jungle, fires his gun in a 360 degree pattern after hearing what turns out later to be a bunny rabbit making its way through the underbrush.
Last time, I said, “we were green.” This time we feel as if we have our camouflage green and black paint on our faces. We’re stockpiled with ammo. We’re in shape. The jungle is our friend. We’re cool, calm, and collected. Bring it on!
Of course, we realize that given no serious health concerns, we are very fortunate even to have just the issues I’ve been joking about. Still, it doesn’t make those long nights (or days!) any easier. Hopefully this time the baby will be a bit easier.
Anyone out there have two or more kids? Any good stories to tell? Of course, if you only have those “every moment was blessed, my child was wonderful and slept for 16 hours a day, napped continuously too” stories, I can assure you that you will secure my enduring resentment. 🙂 My sister, who has one of these “book babies” as I call them (the perfect babies who follow all the normal behavior outlined in those “Baby’s First Year” books, is the perennial object of my resentment.
(By the way, the category is called “Cletus” for “Cletus the Fetus” because we didn’t find out the sex. We didn’t for Parker either. Why ruin a good surprise ending? That’s like forwarding ahead on the DVD and watching the end of the movie first.)