Monday, April 27, 2009

Introducing Mr. Fussypants

Never have I seen so many superstitious people as I have since giving birth. Through the duration of my pregnancy, I've had the pleasure of coming to know several other women that found themselves likewise knocked up. Now that most of us have had our babies (although there are still several that are finishing up their cooking time), it's interesting to see where these women (and myself) are at emotionally. We are wise enough to know that even when things are going well with our newest addition to the family, to admit this out loud tempts God to punish you for such pride. I've never been so happy to surround myself with so many wooden objects as I am now, in case the need suddenly arises to appease myself with the fates and knock on wood after admitting I have a well-behaved baby.

But sometimes no matter how bloody our knuckles, even knocking on wood cannot protect us from the condition of a fussy child. Strangely, it is a bit of a relief to admit we have a fussypants on our hands.  Afterall, I am well acquainted with the look of someone that silently loathes me for having a well-mannered child as they smile politely and say, "how nice for you," through clenched teeth. As the saying goes, misery loves company and this is particularly true of an exhausted and hormonal new mother.

In the interest of full disclosure, the last week has been particularly rough on me (which I hate to admit). But I set this blog up to document this experience and that doesn't mean creating an illusion of the truth I want people to believe. Since North's crying jags have begun, I had felt incompetent as a mother and ineffectual as a soother of a crying infant. The experience had me feeling numb and scared of my child. While I could still enjoy the good moments with my little boy, I dreaded the future outburst from him that I  had no confidence to calm.

I find myself knocking on the wooden desk I'm typing upon even now, feeling more secure in my newfound skills as a mother. While both Dave and I have developed new talents of calming a crying child, the more valuable mindset I've developed in the last week is that of not caring what any outside observer thinks of my mothering skills. I've learned how to convince myself that babies will cry and it is not my fault. It is not the fault of my clean floors when my baby has gas that he needs to work through. The fact that I failed to sleep when he sleeps for the upteenth day in a row is not causing his temporary colic. As of tomorrow, we've had this child in our care for a grand total of 3 weeks and you know what---I'm pretty damn proud of how far we've come in that time. And yes, today was a stellar day (even with a little bit of fussiness thrown into the mix) but we overcame the fear and enjoyed the beautiful day.

Really, I'm writing this for any new mother out there that has or will have similar feelings. I believe doubting yourself and what you are capable of is normal.  Just choose not to allow these negative thoughts to rule you (and if the people around you are making you feel this way, address this with them immediately). While everyone's experience is absolutely unique, I know such self-doubt will only lead to more bad experiences down the road.

While North is far and away my number one priority right now because he is at his most vulnerable; my husband, our pets, and my ambition are still on the forefront of my mind as well. Learning to balance all of them has been my mission in the last 3 weeks; but even before  that, the art of a well balanced life has always been my most important and never-ending challenge. Having a baby just adds one more ball to my juggling act.


Brayden and Carol Wilbeck said...

We learned that Dr. Harvey Karp's "Five S's" technique helps w/ a screaming infant that just can't settle down. My husband and I were taught the techniques in our Newborn Care class and supposedly - they work. I'm about to have a bambino myself so we'll give it a whirl when he becomes a fussypants... Good luck and love the blog! :o)

Jessica Swesey said...

I'm so glad to see you blog about this as it's been on my mind lately too. Those thoughts -- what if people think I'm a bad mother? Because I admit, when I'm in a store and someone's child is screaming, I tend to think under my breathe "jeez lady, can't you control that child?" and then I feel guilty about it because having watched plenty of kids and babies and even taught a group of ornery school-agers, I should know better. Sometimes a child just needs to be a child, and unfortunately for us grown-ups that means screaming and crying.

It's got to be one tough adjustment going from a completely dark, perfectly temperature-controlled womb where you're constantly fed and free of clothing -- to lights, stimulation, wet pants, strange sounds, and fluctuating temperatures. I'm sure you're doing very well with him Sonya. But I can see you've already realized this!

At least he's still cute when he's mad.

Michele said...

I remember feeling so unnatural at first, I felt like I was posing as a mommy and soon everyone around me would know that I'm totally winging it. But that's what we do... wing it... and some techniques work for some babies, others work for others. You'll figure out by trial and error what works for North. But a baby that doesn't cry??? no such thing. Noah would go through a period every night around 6-7pm where he'd just cry and nothing seemed to help. Our doc said that some kids just have a fussy time of day and sometimes no matter what you do the baby will be fussy- so don't be hard on yourself. and with Noah, the fussy times got better the older he got- probably improved around 6-8 weeks. and have you tried the squats??? ;-)

Sonya said...

Brayden & Carol---thanks for mentioning the Five S's. They will definitely help you when your baby arrives! We have been using them and often they do calm Mr. North. Sometimes though, nothing seems to work and I find myself trying all the tricks that have worked in the past until something finally soothes him again. My husband and I have come to realize how hilariously fickle babies are.

Jessmeister---I can't wait to compare notes with you on this when Lil' Miss arrives. It will be just like when we were 16 again and it's us versus the world. And I hear you on the crow eating. I find that crow is especially delicious with a bit of ketchup.

Michele---thanks for making me feel normal. Amazing how a little "we've all been there" can soothe a worried mommy. Also, haven't tried the squats yet, my yoga ball keeps deflating because I lost the plug it came with and we're improvising. I'm too freaked out that it's going to suddenly deflate to sit on it with the baby.