When Your Fussy Baby Refuses the Carrier

Friday, September 11, 2015

"Fussy babies miss the womb. This is the infamous 'fourth trimester' and you must do your best to replicate a womblike atmosphere. Carrying your baby is the easiest way to do this- simply strap or wrap on a carrier, tuck your infant in, and go about your day!"

So easy and crunchy granola, right? Riiiiiiight.

I read this and similar statements a thousand times before Calvin was born. I fully expected him to not be a fussy baby (!) but I wanted to carry him with me at all times regardless- I knew I would miss having him with me when I went back to work and I wanted to take full, cuddly advantage of my maternity leave. I had visions of carrying my sweet babe around in slings and snuggly, complicated soft wraps, his body molded to mine, his face protected from the prying eyes of strangers. I knew, in my bones, that I was a baby carrying kind of mama. No stroller for me, thanks.

Then Calvin was born I knew immediately that he was a little different from other babies that I had known. He seemed somehow more there, more aware of the fact that he was a helpless infant. And he haaaaated it. Things that other babies enjoy- like laying on their mamas chest, cooing from vibrating chairs or peeking out at the world from a cozy mama-facing carrier- just pissed Calvin off.

While before he was born my visions of baby carrying were a choice, after meeting Calvin I realized it was a must for two reasons: the first is when he is awake, he wants to be on the move. There is no sitting or laying and holding an awake Calvin. He will loudly (as in, the neighbors must think I'm physically harming him in some way) make his preference for constant movement be known. This takes the form of endless house cruising and freuquent neighborhood walks when the afternoon cools enough to survive the mid summer out of doors.

The second reason is that seats, pillows and various other infant type perches (even ones that move or vibrate) are wholeheartedly unacceptable to Calvin. It is my impression that his immobility frustrates him, which I completely understand. Steve jokes that we have an entire graveyard of baby seats, swings and chairs that Calvin has tried and rejected. This is true. Mama will buy/try anything to have five peaceful minutes in the bathroom.

Hence, a carrier is a must.

The few times I've successfully carried Calvin in a backwards (that is, towards me) facing carrier, the way infants "should" be carried, was when he was asleep when I tucked him into it, took a quick walk, and took him back out, contorting myself like a silent ninja the entire time, lest he wake. In other words, he was unconscious for the entire experience. If awake, he will contort his neck and body in impossible, awkward positions, trying to turn and face what is oncoming, screaming the entire time. Staring at my neck or chest, legs and arms not freely mobile, simply is not on his agenda.

Finally, a couple weeks ago, I stopped trying to convince Calvin that young babies are supposed to be carried facing their moms and I embraced the fact that I have a baby that wants to engage in the world from an unusually young age. Front facing baby carrying shamers be damned.

I youtubed 'how to front face carry infant' and found a way to wrap Calvin into our boba so that he can greet the world while we trek around the neighborhood. He gets to swing his arms and legs like a prize fighter and gaze at whatever he pleases until he drops into a gentle nap. He loves it. And, as I always knew I would pre-baby, I love carrying him.

One of the many lessons Calvin has taught me in the few short weeks he's been ex-utero is that parenthood laughs in the face of our plans and expectations. Learning to take each day and moment as they come is not only necessary for survival, it is the key the endless joy and wonderment your baby will unlock in your life. And that's what it's all about at the end of the day.

So, kiss your fussy baby, strut your MacGyvered carrier wrap and just roll with it, mama.

On Being a New Mom

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Motherhood. This is a word I always associated with my own mother- mumsie or mum as I call her. Still now, with a sleeping seven week old in the bedroom, I don't feel as though that word applies to me. That somehow I haven't earned it yet?

Motherhood is crying as you hold your precious 4 day old son because you miss having him in your belly so much. It is missing your newborn when your baby is only seven weeks old. It is losing the meaning of time and yet being painfully aware of its passage.

Motherhood is an exhaustion so deep and aching you could never imagine it before experiencing it. It is not being able to fall asleep despite said exhaustion because you can't stop staring at the beautiful, perfect, sweet little face sleeping next to you as you drink in each of his delicious, milky breaths.

It is hating yourself because you want to run away from his endless cries. It is resenting the pre-mama you for thinking this would be all sweet baby cuddles and, you know... easy!

Motherhood is missing your work and resenting that you have a job that will take you away from him even for a second. It is sobbing with him as painful gas bubbles wreak havoc on his tiny bowels; giving up all your favorite foods and more in the hopes you will find the villain causing those bubbles.

It's calling your own mother in tears and asking her if it is okay that this isn't everything you imagined and that it is so, so much harder and more confusing than anyone could have prepared you for.

It is letting go of the baby you pictured before he got here and falling in love with the one you gave birth to. It is staring for hours at tiny body parts that change too fast. It is feeling his hands resting on your chest and gripping you close as he nurses and wanting this to never end; wanting to somehow capture that moment and every other so you can drink them in over and over for the rest of your life.

After all I've done and endured in this life- losing loved ones, moving far from family, medical school, switching residencies- becoming a mother is the most confusing, painful and outright hardest thing I've ever attempted. And yet I desperately clutch at every second, deeply mourning my loss as each moment slips past in an unrelenting march.

That, friends, is being a mom.