Sam is a limp noodle right now. We had a long night full of screaming and fussing and wanting to be held and nursed all night long, with Michael and I arguing over whether or not we should get up and hold the baby. He wanted to get up and rock Sam. I wanted to let her fuss it out. We hadn’t figured out the rules yet last night, so we sort of screwed ourselves in this department. Hopefully by tonight we can agree on what we’re going to do.
Sam’s first few nights home remind me of Cassie’s first night, although Sam and Cassie are two very different babies. Sam screamed last night, but not like Cassie used to scream. You ever noticed the animated cartoon up in the corner, the one of the demon mommy holding the screaming demon baby? That’s Cassie and me. She was a demon child, the original angry baby (so very, very angry) and boy did she know how to howl. I remember when I had my C-section and the doctor pulled Cassie out. Michael said, “She’s out! The baby’s finally out!” But we didn’t hear so much as a peep from her. I got a little scared and said, “What’s wrong? Why isn’t she making any noise? What’s she doing?” “Just kind of looking around,” Michael said. Then the nurses took this strangely silent child to the clean up table, pricked her heel to get some blood, and that was the last time Cassie was ever quiet. Since that moment, my eldest daughter has made her presence know with as much ruckus as she can summon.
So Cassie was a screamer, and her first night home was no exception. My mom and dad came to stay with us and help out that first week (they’re here now too). Mom handled all the cooking and cleaning. Dad sat on the couch and read the entire time. Michael did things like assemble the swing and put batteries in all the baby toys. I stumbled around trying to figure out how to breastfeed and stay sane. The first day home was agony. I couldn’t even figure out how to bath Cassie. I had to watch Mom do it. She screamed bloody murder through the whole thing (Cassie, not Mom). I was terrified, and oh-so-grateful my knowledgeable mother the nurse was there to hold my hand.
Then night time came and my parents went to bed and Michael and I were on our own.
Cassie started out the evening by crying non-stop. I responded by nursing. These days, nursing is old hat for me. Sam latches on and we just go. No pain, no fuss, no problem. When Cassie latched on in the beginning, it was all I could do to keep from swearing a blue streak. In fact, many times I could only hold off from swearing the first few minutes and then I had to cut loose because it felt like someone was sawing my nipples off with a dull steak knife (put that as an 11 on the 0-10 pain scale). Of course, every time she nursed, it started off contractions in my slowly shrinking uterus, which also hurt like a bitch. And then there was the C-section incision, and the fact I was still having bowel problems. I was in my own little personal hell, screaming demon baby and all, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is why you see horns on my head and Cassie’s in that darling little picture I put up in the bio section.
So I suffered through nursing. Then I went to put Cassie down in the basinet next to our bed, with vague hopes of getting an hour or two of sleep before she woke up screaming again. I got two minutes. The howling started out low, quickly built up steam, and then threatened to shatter the windows. My parents, both of whom claim to be going deaf, slept through it all. Michael, who can usually sleep through anything, actually woke up, and yours truly, who will jump out of bed if she hears a flea fart in the next room, was about ready to throw herself off a cliff.
Cassie screamed, and Michael and I took turns trying to soothe her. At first, we tried rocking her in the glider. She hated that. Then I tried nursing her, which only seemed to plug the noise as long as she had one of my nipples to chew on. As soon as I detached her, the screaming started again. We massaged her and pumped her legs. It quickly became apparent that the only way to get Cassie to calm down (not sleep, but just calm down) was to carry her as we walked around the bedroom. She had to be held upright and kept moving without stopping. The only time Michael and I got a break was when I sat down and nursed her again. Because I was in so much agony nursing her, I refused to let him sleep while I was sitting in the chair. In fact, the first time he did lay down to sleep, I picked up a box of tissues and threw them at him. “Wake up, you #&%#@! I ain’t suffering through this alone!”
The night seemed endless. We walked, nursed, swore and lamented. I threatened to kill Michael more than once. At one point, I did let him sleep five minutes, during which time I made my only attempt at singing a lullaby. Unfortunately, I was so fried I could only remember the lyrics to one song – “Why Don’t We Get Drunk And Screw” by Jimmy Buffet. To this day, Michael asks, “You couldn’t remember the words to “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star?” Hell no.
Dawn came eventually. At 5AM, Cassie finally wore herself out and went to sleep. I placed her in the basinet and laid down in bed next to Michael with a heavy sigh. “Sweetie,” I said to him. “We’ve shared some good times and some bad ones, and I love you. But no matter how much time passes, I will never, ever look back on this night and laugh.”
And then from the basinet we heard, “BBBRRRPPPZZZZT!”
“I’m not laughing,” I told my husband as our daughter farted again.
“Still not laughing!” I insisted. But Michael already had tears in his eyes and couldn’t keep from shaking.
By the third time she’d farted, I couldn’t help it either. I laughed too. Cassie had stayed awake all night, screaming because she had to pass gas and couldn’t. That was when I finally understood that parenting was hell, and I was perfectly suited for the job.