Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Vaccines and Mother Bears

My little baby is 2 months old, and that milestone comes with the necessity of a first round of vaccinations. I know that vaccines are controversial these days. But I decided that the benefits outweigh the risks. Babies used to die of diseases that vaccines have eradicated and in terms of public health I can't help but think that's a good thing. So I dutifully took my baby to the doctor's office to be stuck full of painful needles for the good of his future health.

The problem is that new mothers are a lot like bears--prone to violence when their babies are threatened, so it was very VERY difficult for me to watch my poor little guy subjected to pain. It took a lot of willpower not to rip the needles out of my doctor's hands and jam them into her own thigh in retribution. There is nothing more heartbreaking than watching my innocent baby crying when just moments before he was full of trust and smiling at the doctor from the examination table. He just doesn't expect the world to have bad things in store for him. What a gift that must be! Imagine always assuming that things are going to be lovely and warm and cozy and smile-worthy. Imagine never even thinking that the person smiling at you sweetly is about to stab you in the back (or leg) and leave you hurting. He trusts the world implicitly. He has to, because if someone doesn't take care of his every need it's all over.

I almost cried at my baby's first vaccination appointment as I saw those tears clinging to his blonde eyelashes. I can't believe there are three more such appointments due during his first year. I don't think I can take it. It's strange to be able to feel someone else's pain so strongly and yet force yourself to surrender to the logic of "it's for his own good." I'm not sure who was more traumatized by the vaccine event. My baby is sleeping peacefully but my stomach is tied in knots remembering his startled shrieks heralding a great betrayal. I suspect that this is the first of many instances when I will be unable to shield my child from pain. The world can be a hard place. I just hope I can keep it safe and worthy of his beautific smile for as long as possible.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Lessons

A few things that I have learned in my parenting journey so far:

1. Babbling is not a voluntary action. Having a baby causes you to revert to a pre-verbal state where the only noises that seem reasonable in the face of your baby's ridiculous cuteness are goos, gaas, and gurgles.

2. Sleep is not actually a necessity. Pre-baby I really valued sleep. I was one of those people who needed my 8 hours or else I turned into a cranky zombie. I have now discovered that 6 hours of badly broken sleep can be heavenly and have forgotten what it's like to sleep for more than 3 hours in a row.

3. Pee can travel in an arc capable of moving gracefully from a changing table to the back of your husband's head without hitting anything in between.

4. Showering more than once every 4 days is an accomplishment worth celebrating. Shaving my legs is worthy of cracking our best bottle of wine and giving a hearty toast to personal hygiene.

5. No, I didn't hear what you said. You probably explained the same thing to me eight times but I didn't process a single word of it due to sleep deprivation and being distracted by encouraging my baby to burp, fart, or otherwise relieve his gaseous pains.

6. It's a bad idea to try on your old pants at 8 weeks post-partum. This only leads to depression and then a desire to eat cookies, which will only excerbate the problem. Ditto for standing on scales or looking at pictures of post-partum celebrities who probably got tummy-tucks right along with their elective C-sections.

7. Baby toys aren't for babies, they're for parents. I spend way more time playing with my baby's rattles than he does. He's much more interested in the ceiling, the venetian blinds, and shadows. I suspect that I'll be so attached to his stuffed animals by the time he wants them that I won't want to share.

8. I can't seem to call my baby by name. His name seems too big for him somehow, too adult. The offshoot is that he probably thinks his name is Peanut.