Friday, June 18, 2010

The Mythical Happy Baby.

In Yoga, there is a wonderful pose called "Happy Baby Pose" in which the person lies on their back, bends their knees up and out and grabs their feet to roll back and forth. It feels great on the lower back.

But much like the misleading expression "I slept like a baby last night" I have come to realize that before people have children they have this incorrect perception of how babies are. We see them everywhere in commercials, in movies and television programs, and we may even catch glimpses of them out and about - these mythical happy babies.

The reality, I have learned, is that babies move rapidly from one state to another. A happy baby, especially in the first few months, is one that is rested, full, at the perfect temperature, and fully-engaged in an enjoyable activity. The problem is, that it is nearly impossible to keep those four elements balanced in the rapidly changing landscape of a small baby.

Oh, I know all will change over the next few months, and it will become infinitely easier to keep my child happy and giggling for hours. But in the meantime, it sometimes feels like I emerge from our nest with a ticking timebomb. We can get to Starbucks, order a drink, coo at the other patrons, and then dissolve into screaming on the way home. We can get 3/4 of the way to a friends house with squeals and fascination, and then it can all turn south and end with red-faces and tears streaming down cheeks (and if it's a really bad day, it could end that way for both of us!)

But we keep trying and we are learning. I have successfully taken walks with the stroller a half-dozen times, but tonight we set out like usual and ended up 6 blocks away, with me sitting on the steps of the municipal building nursing her while my husband came to rescue us.

A few days ago, I had an interesting trip to Trader Joes. An old woman came up to me to see the baby, and asked how old she was. "Two months!" she said, "That is TOO young to be out!" "I don't really have a choice." I said, "I have to buy groceries!" In the next aisle over there was a woman with an absolutely angelic sleeping baby about the same age - amazinglg to me - in a carseat. We stopped to talk for a minute and she complimented my baby carrier - I thanked her and told her that my sweet girl would not tolerate a carseat for long while shopping so the wrap is the best option for keeping her quiet for as long as possible. "Oh, me too, he fell asleep in the car and will be very unhappy when he wakes up, I'm just hoping that he doesn't start to scream before we get back out to the car."

Ah, sometimes all is not what it appears to be!

Because the truth of the matter is, they ARE too young to be out. Certainly too young to be out with the expectation of consistency. Their timelines are not your timelines. They don't understand why they are alone in the carseat and why they cannot be held or nursed when the mood strikes them. And they only have one way to communicate a variety of negative emotions - crying. I know all of this, and yet I want to try. I want to be able to do things now.

So I get out into the world and I pray... I pray that she will be okay. That I've fed her enough, that she's rested enough, and that we can get through whatever the task is at hand before she melts down and needs the comfort of home and mommy.

We are going to Chicago for my cousin's wedding this weekend. A potentially ill-advised experiment of three days and two nights away from home at a time when I could not successfully walk six blocks. At least since we are flying, I will be able to nurse her on the plane and in the airport when she has trouble, but I also plan to bring earplugs. Not for me, but for my fellow passengers! Let's pray it does not get ugly.

No, seriously, pray for us.

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