by Nadine Gallegos
I should have known right away that my son would be different from the rest. While he was in me, he never had a "schedule" like you hear about. He woke, slept and kicked whenever the heck he felt like it. My kicks were never joyous occasions; they were reasons to close my eyes and practice Lamaze breathing.
He was 2 weeks late coming out. I thought for a whole month before he arrived that he would be coming "any day now." He also dropped into my pelvis almost 2 months before he was born. He had me fooled from the start. The day before I was scheduled to go in and be given a pill to get things "moving" and 2 days before I should have been induced, he decided he wanted to do it his own way. He woke me up at 4 a.m. and I was crampy. At 4:30 I woke my husband. Even my contractions were weird. They weren't in any particular order, not any set time apart. At 7:30, when I couldn't get comfortable anymore, we set off for the hospital. Lo and behold I was 8 cm! My son wanted out, and he wanted out now! About 3 hours later we were holding my screaming 9 pound 5 ounce baby. While I lay prone, the baby was passed. I kissed him, then my husband held him, then my mother in law held him. Then my sister in law got a chance. He just got more and more mad. He wanted a boob damnit and he wanted it now! I put him to my breast and immediately he was quiet. "This is wonderful," "He's beautiful," and all those typical phrases were coming out of my mouth.
That night in the hospital, my husband had went home to sleep, so I was alone with our beautiful new son. I held him, and nursed him. He fell asleep. I turned off the lights. He woke up and cried. I turned on the lights. I nursed. He slept. This went on all night long. Finally in tears, I called my husband and begged him to come help me. I was tired from childbirth and I wasn't getting any sleep. Little did I know this wasn't just that night. This was going to be the norm, probably for a year or so.
We took him home, out of the barely controlled chaos of the hospital and to the quiet of our home thinking that would help. We brought him home and he screamed the whole car ride home until I put my finger in his mouth for him to suck on. Our first 6 weeks looked something like this:
Nurse, put down, cry, pick up, nurse, put down, cry, pick up, nurse, hold, freeze, don't move or sneeze and anybody who makes the slightest noise dies!
We turned the ringer off on our phone. Heaven forbid ANYONE come visit and wake our son in the off chance he sleeps. Christmas with my in-laws was horrible. He cried in the car on the way there and back. He cried during the entire dinner, and my husband and I choked back our food without tasting it, taking turns with our screaming baby. The bassinet, the swing, the Gymini, the crib, the stroller -- everything we had was a waste of space. We realized the only way to save ourselves was co-sleeping, and we went out and bought a sling. Bottles? heck no, they're not mom. Pacifiers? nope!
We thought the first two weeks were bad -- then the colic set in. My beautiful baby who was sleeping 4 - 5 hour stretches suddenly stopped wanting to sleep in any form. He didn't want a breast sometimes, and dad spent hours walking our son on his shoulder. Most of the photos we have, which aren't of him crying, are of him in that position. Baths helped. He wouldn't sleep on his own except sometimes he'd sleep on his tummy, but mostly he'd sleep on us. I adjusted my diet to try and calm his tummy and that did nothing. Chamomile tea didn't work because he wouldn't take a bottle. But there were days where I'll admit, we held him down and took a medicine dropper and forced some into him. It worked, barely. We also found some over the counter colic pills that we got desperate and bought. They weren't a miracle drug but they really did help.
I cried to myself, I cried to my husband and I cried to my son. There were days when my husband went back to work where after 6 hours of no sleep and crying, I just started screaming right back at my son. I would sometimes even just put him down and leave, I'd go outside in the cold and just sit there, trying so hard not to walk back in the house and pitch my son outside instead. I don't know how many times I screamed, "I hate you." I don't know how often we looked at adoption ads. Sometimes my husband would come home to a screaming baby and a frazzled wife who would scream at him the minute he walked in the door. I'm sure there were days when he didn't want to come home.
Things did get better. Slowly, we started being able to put him down long enough to stretch and use the restroom. The swing and other things got some very brief use. The colic got worse, then suddenly went away and I started being able to eat decent food. Now that my son is 4 months old, I jumped the gun and offered solids. He took to it so well that dinnertime is actually nice for us now. He sits in his exersaucer and will watch an entire Baby Einstein video sometimes. He sleeps in a bassinet beside the bed for short stretches, though he still co-sleeps, and still wakes 2 - 5 times a night. He learned to sit up and that made a huge difference in attitude. He smiles, laughs, and loves his daddy.
We have a lot more hurdles to overcome but my son is becoming a new baby every day. He still doesn't like strangers, bottles, family functions or sleeping on his own, but he's darn near perfect and after what we've been through we're happy with how things are now. Hey, maybe in a couple years I can go on a date with my husband, come home to him sleeping in his own bed and sleep until 9 a.m. without any interruptions. But of course I'll just settle for one of those adorable baby chuckles.
About the author: Nadine's mom to five little ones and currently lives in Idaho.
Copyright © Nadine Gallegos. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC