Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mothering Baby B: Six Notes from the Field

Sub-note: Notes 1-5 are short and anecdotal. Note 6 is personal and lengthy. Feel free to skip 6 if you're short on time or energy.

"Bridgette has a hat! What do you think of that?"

Note 1: Here are stated the opening lines of a song we learned at motor therapy class. Bridgette has learned to love hats because of that song. The one pictured above and below is her current favorite. She places it of her own accord and then crawls about the house, often in nothing but a diaper and her hat.

Other special hats include 1) her first-year birthday tiara, 2) favorite toys, 3) the fry basket at IHOP.

Note 2: Despite loving hats, she still will NOT allow me to touch her hair. She won't even let me brush it. (Although she has learned to "brush" it herself.) The best I've ever done is to place one clip. When dexterous enough, she promptly removes it. You may witness the Frizzy Einstein in photos for a long while yet.

Note 3: She does, however, let me floss her teeth. It is one of her favorite activities.

Note 4: Once home from the hospital, Bridgette's sleeping schedule was not only utterly screwed up, but in addition, she was traumatized by my absence at night and would not sleep even when exhausted. She would cry for an hour and still not go down. Dealing with our own personal exhaustion and having tried a myriad of solutions, one night I sat and rocked her in our glider-chair.

She thrashed and arched and tried to throw herself out of my arms. That is, until I sang Baby Beluga. No sooner had I sung, "Baby beluga in the deep blue sea..." then she completely stilled, settled in, suckled her blanket, and closed her eyes. It was the weirdest, fastest switch I have ever seen her pull. We sing and rock before naps and at bedtime now, and she's gone right down every time.

Note 5: Despite her apparent need for me at bedtime, she was rather fearless this evening at Barnes & Noble. At every moment, she was making a new-found bid for freedom. After 18 months of sitting still, she's a speed-crawler after only one week.

At one point, as she escaped way down an aisle from me, she turned back to check that I was still there and watching over her, as babies will do. I decided on a loyalty test. If I clearly stepped out of view around the corner, would she panic? Would she crawl back to me like a good little lamb? Would she follow her mama duck?

After a few seconds I peered around the shelves. And wouldn't you know! Not only had she not tried to follow me, she didn't seem to care one whit that I had disappeared. In a matter of moments, she had crawled twice as far down the aisle and sat tapping the shoe of a woman who obviously didn't like babies. When I moved to rescue her (in fact, I'm not really sure who I was rescuing), Bridgette tried to escape again!

Note 6: People have often expressed a sentiment such as "Just you wait! Once she's moving, you'll wish she wasn't!" I know it's early yet, but I don't feel that way in the slightest.

The thing is, when your child is delayed, there is nothing you want more than for them to have a normal life. It's not about my personal convenience.

I cannot tell you the jealousy and bitterness I dealt with all those years I couldn't get pregnant, yet I seemed surrounded by mothers on all sides. Though I was established and had empty rooms to fill in a lovely home, so many of these mothers were younger than myself, sometimes fresh out of high school or college, jobless, and practically homeless. It didn't really make sense to me.

Of course, I have a child now, and many women who want children are never that lucky. I never forget that. I can't. Other women have lost babies, and I can't even imagine that kind of pain. So after 5 years of waiting, my first child... well others have had worse, I know. But I don't suppose my first experience has been so very easy either.

Besides the whole Hirschsprung thing (PICCs, incisions, scars, organ removal, a year of infant ileostomy, enterocolitis, special diets, hospital stays, and many other expenses, both monetary and emotional), every Sunday at church I sit and have to squelch another kind of jealousy and bitterness as I watch children born after Bridgette walking about months and months and months before her. It's hard to explain why it's so hard for me, seeming such a minor setback in the long-run.

Perhaps it's so small in the scheme of life that I shouldn't waste emotion about it, but despite attempting to handle it gracefully (to greater or lesser amounts depending on the day and who you are -- whether I've ever expressed my frustration in your presence -- although for most this will be the first public expression I have made), I have often been truly troubled that Bridgette's mobility is not on par with "normal" kids. I have felt anger, but directed at no one, just emited toward the cosmic void or held inside myself. Mostly I'm simply sad for her. The phrase "It will come," is not helpful.

And now some mobility is here at last. No walking yet, but even with crawling I couldn't be more pleased! While I don't look forward to events like losing her in the supermarket, I'm terribly excited for her to continue moving forward, moving backward, moving anywhere on her own.


Tammy and Alvin said...

Your strength in dealing with everything amazes me, and your honesty in sharing your emotions is more impressive to me than if you'd said you had never had any negative emotions.

I'm also amazed that Bri will let you floss her teeth but not comb her hair. Really?

When Henry was that age, he had a song that had an instant calming effect. It was a Godsend. We sang it a LOT.

I hope all of this mobility doesn't take away too much of that baby fat in Bri's cheeks that makes her so darn cute.


Chelsea said...

I am so happy for you both that Babs is crawling!! I have NEVER wished my children weren't mobile--it is such a beautiful thing to watch them learn and explore in a completely self-directed way. Watching your baby achieve this freedom brings me true joy.

If you're dying to get her hair done, when Sophie was that age I sat her on the edge of the sink and turned on the water. Kicking the water distracted her long enough for me to comb it. But I advise against setting your goals too high--she still demands to do her own hair and she still looks an awful lot like Einstein.

Joy said...

Love you post...all the tender emotions of a mother, wife, and mother. We all have then just in different forms. I appreciate your feelings, strength and honesty. Glad to hear B is doing a bit better. I think of you often. Just remember I am just around the corner if you need anything. ;-)

Janel said...

Hugs. I can so relate to you especially #6 on all levels. Hugs.

Lore said...

Congratulations on the speed crawling, Bri! Hip-hip-hooray!!!

Kelly, that first picture of Bri in the hat is absolutely adorable. Please send a copy of one of those to Nana. I am sure she would appreciate seeing that there is another hat lover in the family.


JJuracan and family said...

Your honesty is refreshing! I don't think we are always expected to get through our trials in this life without acknowledging outwardly that they are really hard. Not only is this unrealistic, but how would others know they aren't alone? I can't imagine that there is anyone out there who hasn't thought their lot in life just really sucks...we might not all have the courage or healthy emotion to be able to admit we think that. And for that, I truly admire you! :-) and as far as baby goes...go get 'em kiddo! Make your mama chase you all over the place and keep making her smile :-)

HeatherH said...

You've come a long way my dear and are such an example of strength and optimism. Even your complaints are positive! Don't feel bad about complaining - it's theraputic! I'm so excited about B's mobility - you'll be so surprised at how fast she progresses after this!