The Beary Cute one below may be the sweetest, snuggliest, funniest, most interesting person I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing, but She. Is. Hard. Work.
Yesterday was reminiscent of weeks 4 – 6 of Natalie’s life, when she was still such a mystery to us but the adrenaline rush of the first few weeks had begun to wear off. Suddenly we were truly parents, all by ourselves, and this inconsolable crying baby had replaced the sweet, sleepy lump we had been cuddling for a month. It was terrifying, overwhelming, exhausting, and we thought it might last forever. Luckily, that was just a brief period in Natalie’s otherwise content existence.
But yesterday afternoon, without warning, the nightmarish, howling baby returned. And could not be soothed. I guess we had forgotten how hard those early weeks were, because Mike and I were both so unprepared for her intense fussiness that we simply couldn’t deal. After temperature and diaper checks, an extra feeding, a long drive up and down the Midcoast, frantic toy rattling and every other trick we had up our sleeves all proved futile, I could tell we were both starting to panic.
I started asking questions a la David After Dentist:
“Is this real life?”
“Why is this happening to me?”
“Is this going to be forever?”
Gulp. But, unlike David, I did feel tired. And helpless.
We survived the afternoon, and were beyond relieved when Natalie finally went down for the night. A mini-celebration with a glass of wine and we thought our Saturday night was back on track. Until the crying picked up again. And wouldn’t stop. We would finally soothe Natalie back to sleep, and fifteen minutes later she’d be up again, crying loudly enough to wake the whole neighborhood. When you’re a sleep-deprived parent of an infant, nighttime is the only thing that gets you through–sleep and quiet and darkness are the rejuvenators for the tough day ahead. But last night I was wishing for the night to just end already–let it be daytime so we can just be awake and stop pretending that we’re going to get any sleep.
It feels like forever ago that we had one of those nights. Nights where Mike needed to hand her to me and take a break in the other room because it was all feeling like too much. Nights where tears streamed down my face while I desperately tried to rock her to sleep. Nights where the couch and trashy television (Laguna Beach, Season 1? Yes, please.) took up more of my time than sleep, because the frustration of being awakened was worse than the frustration of just staying awake.
I am so glad yesterday and last night are over. Today our five-and-a-half month old is back to her sweet self, napping peacefully now after a morning of smiling, playing, scootching, rolling, and bouncing. Sighs of relief have been breathed, any productive plans for the day have been cancelled, and we are feeling a bit more like ourselves.
The last 24-hours were a reminder of how hard things were in the beginning, and have made me supremely grateful for that we are through with those first couple of months. Natalie is still hard work, and there are so many frustrating and challenging moments every day as we continue to figure out how the heck to be parents, but it’s no longer such a game of survival. These random fussy days that pop up every now and then are tough, but at least they are few.