Joy is fired. Not as my child, but as my first child. As a baby she was perfect and easy. She was good and flexible. Oh, yes, she was opinionated. I can go back and look at baby pictures now and recognize the expression on her face—it matches some sassy or funny or profound or intelligent idea/comment/sentiment that comes out of her little mouth now that she’s (overly) verbal. It’s amazing. She’s amazing. She’s funny. She’s cute. She’s smart. She’s something else. I just thought that the first kid was supposed to break you in as a parent. I am a slow learner, otherwise known as the front runner for WMOTY (worst mother of the year).
Joy was born with a full head of hair-- so full that the internal monitor the doctor kept trying to put on her head during labor kept falling out. It didn’t have anything to stick to. Her little squished face was red for a few hours, then her beautiful complexion was clear, blemish free. She looks like a little porcelain doll. She took to nursing like she had been doing it forever and nursed, problem free, for 19 months. She mostly rolled, crawled for a couple of days, then started to walk. At 15 months she fell and chipped a tooth. It only made her more adorable. At 18 months she fell and had to get stitches above her eye—but she was very polite with the doctors and nurses. She thanked them for taking care of her. Besides these two little mishaps she has been an extremely easy child. She didn’t touch things she wasn’t supposed to, she didn’t put things in her mouth. She’s loving and affectionate and sweet and kind and generous. She’s fired.
Fast forward almost 3 years to when Marlo was born. Maybe I wasn’t listening when Joy was born, but I was listening when I was pregnant with Marlo and the doctor told me that you can be paralyzed by an epidural. Holy cow! Paralyzed? I guess that’s where the challenging aspect of Marlo began. I had her without an epidural. That part was OK. Seriously. It really wasn’t that bad. (Definitely not as bad as being paralyzed by an epidural.) And she, too, was born with a full head of hair. Not as much as Joy, but still a head covered by hair. (I was bald until I was 2 so I can really appreciate a baby born with hair!) But then she got cradle cap. She got these big scabs that yes, washed out with gentle brushing and apricot oil, but great big chunks of hair also washed out. Within 4 months her full head of hair was almost bald. I had no training or experience because Joy did not prepare me for the challenges of cradle cap. And did you know that putting a hat on cradle cap makes it worse? So much for my motherly instincts on how to solve the problem! And so much for full-head-of-hair-model Joy for helping me out on this one.
Marlo also took to nursing right away. But when I took her in for her 4 month appointment, my chubby little cherub had developed some eating habits that I guess the doctor didn’t approve of—she would nurse, projectile vomit 90% of what she ate, then have an explosive pooping “episode” which would necessitate a full bath and a complete wardrobe change. An hour later she would be hungry again. I just thought she was going through a phase…the doctor thought that perhaps she had an underdeveloped digestive system that might require surgery. Surgery? Yes, surgery. So, after my routine 20 minute, four month check up was over, I went to have not one, but two ultrasounds done on her chubby little tummy. They wanted her to drink some water, but she wouldn’t take a bottle. (Neither of my children EVER took a bottle—why would they? They were nursing fanatics.) So then they had me nurse her. The ultrasound was inconclusive. I went back to the pediatrician who decided that maybe they needed to do an upper GI—the whole tube through the nose thing. And that’s where I said no, because after 6 hours at the doctor’s office, I was not prepared to have something so invasive done to my 75th percentile for weight baby to check to make sure that her digestive system was functioning properly. I took Marlo home. The next day the doctor called to have me take Marlo to the lactation consultant. I made my appointment and took her the day after that. The LC called me in from the lobby. I walked into her office and took Marlo out of her stroller. The LC asked me if the little tuft of hair (the only hair left on her cradle-cap-robbed-of-hair head) always stood up to which I answered yes. Then she proceeded to tell me that Marlo probably eats very quickly then projectile vomits, has explosive poops that require bathing to clean her up, she belches like an adult, etc, etc…I felt like she had been watching us! As it turns out, our nursing dynamic was called ‘overproduction and milk ejection reflex.’ I produced a lot of milk. Marlo ate really fast, but was only getting the sugary part of the milk, not the filling part. That was why she was so gassy and poopy and barfy and possibly why she was so chubby. The not-so-easy remedy? Have her nurse up to 4 times on the same side for up to 4 hours before switching. OK, remember what side, how many times and how long we have nursed while being fully engorged (and lopsided) on the other side. Easy. Thanks, Joy, for the heads up on that one!
Marlo’s poor little face was red and splotchy when she was born. Then she got a few bumps. Then she got a few more. Then some of the bumps joined together. Then some of the joined together bumps joined some of the other together bumps. Then her face was just one big, red bump. This is kindly referred to as ‘Baby acne’. It wasn’t all that bad. It stopped at her hair line—right at the point where the cradle cap started. OK, Doll Face Joywith the perfect skin—how ‘bout some preparation in that department?
I can honestly say that these minor problems—the scabby bald head, the breastfeeding dilemma, and the baby acne—have faded to distant memories. The one thing that Joy could have controlled, (because let’s face it, no baby can control cradle cap, overproduction and milk ejection reflex, or baby acne) was the putting stuff in her mouth phase. She could have given me a few trial runs on calling the poison control center. (I have the number strategically placed on the side of the frig.) She could have given me some practice for the little oral-fixation I now have on my hands. You name it, Marlo has put it in her mouth. Oh, sure, Joy put a penny in her mouth once, but spit it out before I could even react. That’s nothing compared to Marlo…
Marlo has tried all of the following (and a lot more that I can’t remember, don’t want to admit, don’t have the time to write about, or can’t spell): dirt, sand, hair, hair clips, hair clips with hair in them—because she won’t wear the hair clip in her hair, flowers, leaves, bugs, plastic bags, paper bags, napkins, paper towels, Vaseline, lotion, soap, shampoo, bubbles, every single toy in our house, wallets, credit cards, clothing, her hands, her toes, Joy’s toes, Joy’s hands, Joy’s hair, Joy’s hair clips—because she doesn’t think that Joy likes to wear the hair clips in her hair, either—and the list goes on and on. The other day we were playing in the loft and Marlo was playing with a miniature china tea cup. (It is impossible to child proof your home when you have a four year old, so it’s also impossible to keep toys in the ‘not intended for children under 3’ range out of reach.) Everyone was having a good time. Then it was time for baths. Marlo was rather quiet, but I was getting PJs ready, diapers laid out, the bath water was running, I was putting toothpaste on toothbrushes, removing clothes, piling hair on top of heads, etc.—I was doing the whole mom-at-bath-time routine. So then the girls got into the bath. And I started singing and talking and playing all of the bath time games that we play. When I finally got around to asking Marlo a direct question and she didn’t answer, I took a second look. That’s when I noticed the look, the ‘I have something I’m not supposed to in my mouth’ look. When I finally got her to open up her mouth, a challenge in and of itself, I discovered that playtime wasn’t really over—she had smuggled the tea cup into the bath with her. My poor second child has a rookie for a mom.
And that is why Joy is fired. She did not prepare me for all of the trials and tribulations and challenges that Marlo has put me through. Nevertheless, I am going to keep her. I have to—I lost the receipt. I would keep her anyway. She’s too wonderful to live without. She brings me such joy. And I am going to keep Marlo, too. Because, even though I have had all of these new, different experiences with my second child, she is every bit as amazing and incredible as Joy is. She is peaceful and easy-going and impish and funny and silly in her own unique little way. I guess I just need to learn that she is going to surprise me at every turn and that I need to stop expecting the expected. Maybe I’ll write a new version of “What to expect when you’re expecting”, but it won’t be about pregnancy. And I won’t be using Joy as a model for what to expect—I did fire her, after all!
Posted by The Editor for Busy Body