My youngest daughter turned 10 yesterday. Gone are the boring, single numbered birthdays; she’s in double digits from now ‘till 100. While she was happy it was her birthday, the thought of getting older depressed her a little, because she’s afraid she won’t be my “baby” anymore. I told her that whether she was 10 or 110, she’d always be my baby. Her smile of relief let me know that was all she needed to hear.

My youngest was a real life changer for us in many ways. I was very excited to have a 2nd child. I came from a family of 6 and my husband came from a family of 8. The thought of having only one child seemed foreign to me. My oldest was thrilled at the thought of becoming a big sister right from the start. She viewed the results of my home pregnancy test with me, and anxiously anticipated the arrival of the baby.

Fast forward to December 2001. I was all set for my scheduled C-section on December 11th. My body, which has no problem conceiving a child, doesn’t seem to work properly when it comes to delivering them. I remember waking up very early and leaving the house at around 5 am to get to the hospital on time. It was a freezing cold morning, and at one point my husband had to pull over to take his jacket off for my oldest daughter to use as a blanket. I can still remember the driveway he pulled over in, and think of that morning whenever I pass the house.

My second little girly-girl came into this world with a loud, healthy cry…and didn’t stop crying until roughly 2004.

Whereas my first daughter was a quiet, happy, agreeable child, my second was needy, crabby and demanding. She would find solace and comfort nowhere but in my arms, and it got to the point where I would strap her to my body to do the house work. Perhaps this choice in parenting methods was not the right one, but I was tired and crazed and didn’t know what to do. My husband, while a great father, is not a fan of the screaming child, and I was at the point where I was willing to do almost anything to keep her quiet.

I was also trying desperately to breast feed her. Due in part to the total incompetence of the nursing staff at the New Jersey hospital my first child was born in, I was never able to get her to take latch on. The memory of sterilizing bottles and the cost of formula made me determined to get kidlet #2 to partake of mother’s milk. For the first few weeks I tried and tried, but many times would succumb and feed her breast milk in the bottle.

One day, totally and utterly frustrated, I whipped off my blouse, put on my ABBA Gold CD and got her positioned on the Boppy. While singing “Take a Chance on Me” and “Waterloo” I gently urged her to latch on, and by “Dancing Queen” she had the knack of it. After that she nursed with relative ease, and it was yet another time during the day she was quiet.

I’ll tell you, over those first two years we spent very little time apart. It was hard for me to go anywhere. I recall a night about 6 months after she was born where I went to a tupperware type party with my sister at a neighbor’s house. I left her in the hands of my husband and my brother in law; she was dry, fed and needed nothing. But me.

I got a phone call within 35 minutes of leaving the house to please, please, please come back. They could not get her to stop crying and at that point my mom guilt-o-meter could not be ignored. It was the first of many times holidays, parties and vacations were a lot less fun than they could have been, or ruined all together.

It also altered my relationships with people. Nobody in my family had babies anymore, and it seemed as if nobody could remember what it was like. I wasn’t as much fun to be around because a) I had a crying baby 85% of the time, and b) I was tired and moody and somewhat brain dead. On one level, I totally understood. On another level it left me depressed and hurt.

About the time when she turned 2, she stopped crying – I always joke that the terrible two’s for me were from birth to 2. Things like “The Wiggles” and favorite toys were a happy substitute for mommy for a while. I enrolled her in preschool so I could get some work done, and hoped the interaction with other kids would be good for her, and it was. She got glowing reports from her teachers about what a sweet child she was which at first left me scratching my head. The crying years were over.

And now she’s 10. I joke with her about what a rotten little baby she was, but that she’s turned into a fantastic girl. It’s funny because she always apologizes for it – and I tell her not to sweat it. She got her crabbies out of her system early on, and all that’s left is sweetness.

I really love my girls, and I don’t regret one single party, movie, concert or dinner I might have missed to stay home and be their mom.

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