You know how so many things in life are much clearer, make more sense once you have something to compare them to? What’s become clear after these last few months with Leyna is how really, REALLY hard it was to be Kendall’s parent the first 3 months of his life.
The clarity comes not from realizing that it was hard for me to cope the first few months because I’ve known that all along. It comes from realizing how unusually hard he was to deal with. In a way, it’s vindication. Maybe I wasn’t a terrible mother, as I often wondered at the start of his life. Maybe he just truly had colic in the purest form, a vague “illness” that we could never figure out how to cure, despite all our desperate, passionate attempts. Maybe his unstoppable screams that dug and stabbed at my very core, that caused me to shout “SHUT THE FUCK UP!” at him at 2 am after many hours of begging, bouncing, singing and sobbing, that sent me into deep pit of guilt… maybe those weren’t *our* fault entirely. Maybe he just really was a difficult baby.
People would tell us that, reassure us that he “just has colic,” that he would grow out of it, that he was sensing our stress, that we needed to calm down, that we needed to wait it out. But at the same time, I’d be hearing from people bits of advice like, “soak in every minute of this precious time, it goes so fast,” and I wondered what the hell was wrong with me. I didn’t want to “soak in” any of it. I wanted it all to pass, fast! If 3 months was the magic age babies are supposed to grow out of colic, then I fucking wanted a 3 month old, stat. I didn’t care what I’d miss out on.
Truth be told, I didn’t cherish many moments those first few months. I have few pictures because I didn’t even feel like documenting it. And looking back, I honestly have few memories. There are vast expanses of time that I have no recollection of. I feel very sad if I think about it too much… about how much I wished away the first few months of Kendall’s life. I feel a little robbed.
Of course, having only that experience to relate to, I assumed my start with Leyna would be just as bad or worse, considering I’d have to split my time with her and Kendall. The first 6 weeks of her life, I waited, breath held, preparing myself for the fussiness to set in, the yelps to escalate to purple-faced screams. But, they didn’t. They never did. She is happy unless there is something tangible wrong. I then fix the tangible issue and she is happy again.
It took a long time for me to warm up to the idea of having a 2nd baby. I was still iffy when Kendall turned 20 months old and we started trying. I NEVER understood how women of babies and newborns could even contemplate for one second having another baby so soon. The 2 under 2 club boggled my ever loving mind, and the 2 under 1 club made me want to rip my ovaries out. When people would ask when we were having another one, for the longest time, I wanted to make the Scream face and run in the other direction. And feeling like this made me think something was wrong with me. Perhaps I just wasn’t that maternal, maybe I was an awful mother for not loving my newborn so much that I wanted another at any point in the next 15 years?
But now, I get it. I totally get it. Leyna is the kind of baby that makes me love babies. Leyna is the kind of baby that bathes me in momnesia, causing me to rapidly forget the intense pain it took to bring her into this world.
Leyna is an EASY baby. Kendall was not.
Now, don’t interpret this to mean me saying I love one child more than another (that was already covered in the blog world last week). I love them both equally, both with all the love I have to give, from the bottom of my toes, always have. But it took me a few months to really start to like Kendall. And while it’s easy to feel guilty about that, especially compared to how much more I liked Leyna from the start, how much easier it’s been to bond with her the last 3 months, this experience the 2nd time around has also helped alleviate some of the guilt I was still carrying around.
Our experience with Kendall was tough. It was NOT typical. Colic was traumatizing. Looking back, I know we did the best we could with what we had and what we knew. And after 3 months passed, I really did start to like my sweet little boy a whole hell of a lot. In my blog post from when Kendall was 12 weeks old, “I’ve Always Loved Him, But I’m Really Starting To Like Him,” I said:
You can’t fully appreciate and enjoy the good things in life unless you’ve experienced the bad, and I believe motherhood is no exception.
Oh, how wise I was as a newbie mom. In a way, I’m grateful for the rough start we had with Kendall. I think it’s shaped the way I look at motherhood for the better, knowing what we’ve been through and that we came out the other side alright. I’m just going to take this opportunity to give myself a huge pat on the back and a little more credit for dealing with all of that right out of the gates of parenthood.
Kendall is rapidly approaching 3 (I know! Right?!) and Leyna is almost 3 months (and that’s as precise as I can get until I put one of those tickers on my blog again to help me keep track).