Sunday, September 21, 2008

Why My Baby Was Worth It

As part of the Mo' Babies Online Baby Shower for Kristen and Rebecca, and in honor of so many other bloggers and friends having babies and one of my best friends who recently had her first (hey, limboland la la!), I'm writing this post about how wonderful babies are! Because they are! If they weren't, why would I be trying so hard to have another? I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it eleventyfour thousand times more, they are worth it.

I'm sure I've written before, and I've gone on and on IRL, about how my baby girl was not an easy baby. But what I remember most fondly about those early months are actually directly related to ways in which the Pumpkin was difficult. And even at the time, I realized it. Those two ways were: 1. she would not be put down for the first three months of her life (except swaddled in a moving swing, and then only at night); and 2. she was very fussy. Now let me tell you why those two things were really wonderful.

Because my girl would not be put down even for naps, Londo and I had to hold her all the time. Let me rephrase that. Londo and I got to hold her all the time! I think back to those early days, weeks, months and what I remember most fondly is holding that little lump of a baby. I held her in my arms or my slings, on my lap or laying cuddled next to her, I walked with her, rocked her, held her gently. I had three different kinds of slings, and Londo had one sling and a baby carrier. I have never in my life been as physically close to another being as constantly as I was then. And that was truly a beautiful thing.

For naps, I would tuck this little being into a sling and walk around, bouncing and singing, until she fell asleep with her cheek pressed against my chest, her hand curled around the neckline of my shirt, her body tucked into me. There was no transferring her into anything else at this point. To keep her napping, I held her. This meant that I sat down somewhere comfy, picked up a book or turned on the TV or played on the computer, and settled in while she slept against my heartbeat, each precious breath making her ribs rise and fall.

How could I not fall in love with this child? That little lump of warmth and softness wanting nothing more than to be held and fed and comforted. How could I not feel an intensly close bond with this snuggly baby? The bond started at birth, really before even, and just got stronger with every passing minute of holding her in my arms, against my body. Yes, it was hard to hold her all the time, and I needed breaks from her and I dreamed of the day when I could put her down without her freaking out. But I also knew I was lucky to have a baby that I could hold, that wanted--even needed--to be held by me, and I was lucky to have the help and support and understanding and time to just hold her.

The other aspect of my difficult baby which was also a wonderful thing was her fussiness. I realized early on that she was fussy, but that I didn't want to label her as a "fussy" baby and only a fussy baby. I also realized that it was more than her being fussy. My little baby was simply very in touch with her emotions. This became really clear once she started to interact with her environment, especially when she started smiling and laughing. When my child is upset, she is FUSSY! But when my child is happy, she laughs loud and clear.

The Pumpkin is active, sensitive and emotional, and she expresses her joy and frustration with equal abandon. I really believe this is a wonderful trait to have. So she wasn't an easy going, laid back baby. She was a baby who knew what she felt, and she let everyone know. And I realize that I'd rather have a child who lets me know how she feels than one who internalizes it or doesn't know how to get what she needs.

What I find the most fascinating about this ability of the Pumpkin's to express herself is that understanding this about her made me realize I was seeing some of her personality traits since her birth! The active, sensitive, emotional and expressiveness of my little girl was not simply baby fussiness that melted away like the baby fat on her chubby thighs did. That early fussiness was a building block of her future personality that I have been able to witness from soon after she came into the world to her current toddlerness, and I will continue to see her personality develop throughout her life. How cool is that?

So I had to hold my baby and had to deal with a fussy baby. I was so lucky. This raising children is hard. But it's easy to be Mrs. Brightside about those little sweet babies when I think about how wonderful even the toughest aspects were. When I think about how it was all worth it. And I, for one, am looking forward to doing it again.

Good luck to all the new mamas and the about to be mamas and about to be again mamas! I hope you all are able to cherish every part of the newborn phase, because it's over so fast. At least we have our fond memories and the amazing children they become!

8 comments:

cynthia said...

Awww, that was heartwarming about it all being worth it. And the love you feel for her is so deep and comes through so much. :)

Parisienne Mais Presque said...

Amen, caramama! Le Petit, too, was a must-be-held-all-the-time "fussy" baby. And I feel the same way about it now, fourteen months later, as you do about the Pumpkin. I am so glad he is who he is! Being so needed at the beginning was a gift. I not only learned how to snuggle and be close and present as a mom, but I also learned to let go of my anxiety and trust my instincts. Both were huge lessons for me that I'm looking forward to using for an eventual baby number two.

I also got back into good physical shape very quickly after the birth because the one of the only ways I could get le Petit to nap was to put him in the Bjorn or the Moby and walk and walk and walk...

I wonder what another child will teach me, because I'm certain now that they all have something new to show you from birth. I almost hope I'll have another "fussy" baby because I feel I'm well-prepared for that, and know how to make it bring out the best in both of us.

(But I wouldn't mind a better sleeper. One of those mythical sleeps-through-the-night-at-three-months models would be nice. *grin*)

Goldilocks said...

What a beautiful post. You don't realize just how special and sweet those early months are until they've morphed into squirmy bundles of toddlerhood.

sheSaid.purplehouseonpearl.com said...

I had a similar, very clear about what he wanted and wanted to be held always baby.

I did lots of reading too, sometimes I loved it, sometimes it was a struggle, and sometimes I wanted to scream! I just told myself, when he is 12 he wont want anything to do with you :)
Even now he wants to sleep on me, and I go with it, because at some point he wont be able to any more and that will be a very big hole.

Also, a sensitive, emotional and very sure about what they want trait is good. You need to have a very clear sense of self, and of your desires to succeed in this world and they have a leg up on this.

But a couple of days of a laid back baby wouldn't be bad.... maybe one that slept peacefully no matter what was going on around them?

Cloud said...

I loved the feeling of our Pumpkin sleeping on my chest, too. Which may or may not be partially responsible for our ongoing sleep issues. I prefer to think that the sleep issues were innate, and that is WHY I let her sleep on my chest so much!

I also loved watching her figure new things out. I still love that, actually.

OneHappyCow said...

LOVED this post, and as the other comments have said, I have a "fussy" STILL wanting to be held all the time girl. I have to admit, only as of late have I recognized the benefits and miss that closeness even of babyhood. I did enjoy it, but that whole thing threw me for a loop - I was not prepared for the level of NEED that my monkey had for me. Now, I look back fondly. Yes, we too have sleep issues. Seems to be a trend, I bet its all part and parcel of having such a sensitive, knows what they want type child. Even now, I am just enjoying the closeness we share (and only minimally wanting to scream!). I always say that I am afraid for #2 because of how much I went through the wringer for #1, but I probably wouldn't know what to do with an "easy" baby! I am prepared now as someone else had said. Anyways, I love that you put such a positive light on this issue, because although it was a very frustrating, heart-wrenching time, it was also a beautiful, emotional time. Your post was very eloquent and emotional. Touched me because it WAS me too! Thanks!

Shellie said...

That was beautifully written and I echo the sentiment completely! It almost makes me want another (only almost)!

Anonymous said...

That describes my first three months with my bundle too. Although it is not always possible to see at the time, you're comments are so true and heartwarming and make me understand reason behind his need/demand.