Three Kid Circus : There Is No Magic Answer

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

There Is No Magic Answer

b4b.jpg My husband opened the car door, and our eyes met. His jaw was set, eyebrows huddling together over worried eyes. I exhaled and grimaced as he grasped my hand and hauled me to my feet.

"We're home," he said. "Home, now." I echoed as I bent to unclasp the straps securing our newborn daughter in to her carseat. I fumbled with the latch. It wouldn't open, and I felt panic rising, burning in my throat.

"Here, let me." My husband gently moved me aside as tears stung my eyes. He removed the entire bucket seat from the car, and we made our way to our apartment. As we crossed the threshold, my eyes raced over the once familiar interior of our home. It looked different, an alien landscape. A small gurgle from the carseat was followed by a crescendo of distress. My husband deftly removed the baby, and I seized her, swaying and bouncing.

"Do you think she's hungry?" My husband looked panicked as she continued to fuss.

She rooted around on my cheek, open mouth and tiny lips searching for milk. I sat on the couch and fumbled around, finally getting her latched on. I looked over my breast, now twice the size of my baby's head, and tried to relax. Yes, we'll have a little milk, and then a nice long nap. My husband fixed a sandwich, and I retired to the bedroom, with my new little peapod.

Thirty minutes later, she awoke with a yowl. A diaper change, and all was well. For thirty minutes. "Waaaah!"

"Diaper again?" said my husband. "She's hungry. Maybe." Every thirty minutes all that day and the next, we frantically sought the magic answer that would allow our baby to settle down, and grant us some rest. The transistion from pregnant to parent was a jolt of ice water into our comfortable lives.

We had read all the books. We took the classes. We had all the stuff. We were ready. And then she arrived.

We gradually became attuned to our baby's needs, and gained confidence in our ability to care for her. Small parts of this new life resembled our old one, but we had a new purpose. We let go of lazy Sundays. Leisurely meals? Gone. My whole body was different. I slept in snatches, troubled by dreams about losing the baby under a huge pile of laundry. All of my passion was spent on obsessive internet research, to prove to myself that my baby was indeed ahead of schedule, and that our parenting was spot-on.

As the months past, life returned to a new version of normal. As she passed milestones, I felt the icy fear slowly warm to a comfortable temperature. I no longer felt that my steadfast attention was the sole reason for my child's survival. My husband and I remembered other common interests, ones that didn't involve diapers. I began to feel competent, even a little superior. I was a great Mommy.

On our first date without our daughter, I got a little tipsy, danced the night away, and upon on return home, we unknowingly made a sibling for our little princess. Standing in the yellow light of my bathroom, the mirror reflected the whole story. My raised eyebrows and tense smile swam before my eyes as the tears of shock fell. The pregnancy test was positive. I inhaled deeply through my nose and heard the rhythmic, metallic sound of my nine month old daughter in her doorway jumper. My husband touched my arm, and my eyes locked onto his. We began to giggle, a squeaking counterpoint to the steady beat of our little girl’s jumping. “It’s going to be a boy.” I spoke without hesitation or doubt. And then I threw up.

This time we were sure of one thing. We didn't have a clue what we were in for, not really. We could lay our best plans, and cross our fingers. There was no fear, not anymore. No illusions of superiority and grandeur. In the place of blind confidence, there was a battle hardened resolve and the weary but joyful knowledge that comes with traversing a difficult path through beautiful terrain.