Monday, January 25, 2010

The Unthinkable

Meg is like an ad for babies. Really, she is amazing. She sleeps through the night, and has since she was two and a half months old. She doesn't get upset easily, and when she does she only cries for a second, as if to say "I think I have made my point." She has fingernails like razors, and enjoys pulling hair, but those are things easily overlooked. Still, even though she is pretty much the perfect baby, there are days when Meg drives me to the end of my rope.

Take today for example: she wouldn't take a nap. Well, she would, they just didn't last longer than fifteen minutes. And that meant she was only happy for about the first seven minutes after waking. After that she would whine, and rub her eyes, and generally be unpleasant. She wasn't happy in her exersaucer, or on her mat, or in her high chair. She wasn't screaming, or even making that much noise, but she needed my constant attention. Of course, all of this was on a day I desperately needed her to nap. I had so much to do, and I couldn't do it while holding or entertaining a baby. By the time Ryan got home I was fried, and escaped to the grocery store.

I have no idea what I would do if she was a "difficult" baby. Would I be able to handle it if she cried all the time? Or had colic? Or croup? What if she just wouldn't eat? Or couldn't sleep because of reflux? What would I do?

Yesterday, a Utah woman with one of those "difficult" babies smothered her child because he just wouldn't stop crying. She was holding him to her chest, trying to make him stop, and the next thing she knew, he wasn't breathing. She is now in jail, and, I would assume, in agony. The baby's brother, his twin, is in state custody. The boys' father, who was sleeping in the next room, I'm sure is just wondering what the hell happened, and probably wishing his wife had just woken him up for help.

I am not saying that I condone what this woman did. Far from it. What I am saying is that my feelings for her are not just anger, but also sadness. I know how tiring having a new baby is, and can't imagine how tiring having two is. I also can't imagine having one of those babies cry all the time. I like to think I would have what it takes, but who knows. Who knows what any of us are capable of when pushed to the edge. That has haunted me all day.

I do know one thing: when Meg was being slightly pissy today, I forgot about all the things I "had to do," held her tight, and thanked my lucky stars.


Anonymous said...

I think parents who "shake" their babies, etc. just get to the end of their wits and don't know what to do. It's ok to put the baby down and walk away. It's ok if the baby cries.

It's much better than what could happen if you don't.

I feel sorry for whenever this happens too. For EVERYONE involved.

Janine@Shelf Life said...

When people hear about stuff like this they are of one of two camps. The ones who want to know all the details so they can rest assured something like this can never happen to them, and the ones who realize this kind of stuff can happen to anyone if the circumstances are right. Actually, now that I think about it, I think both camps know this terrifying fact - but one takes note and the other is in denial.

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Ach. Imagine? That breaks my heart in two.

Give Meg an extra hug -- a nice, gentle extra hug -- for all of us.


Heather said...

I agree with Janine. I've been at the end of my rope with a refluxy baby who wouldn't sleep before. This is so heartbreaking on so many levels. I'm sure everyone who hears the story and those who are living in it wish we could all turn back the clock to just a few moments in time, when simply holding that baby out and away or laying him down to cry would change the world.

It does take a village to raise kids. I just think we don't do a good enough job of being that village for each other.

Hug Meg. We all have crankypants days like that.

erin said...

I had a heck of a time with baby Max. She would cry for hours and was pretty much inconsolable at all times. I had to ask for a lot more help with her from my ex husband than I ever had with the other two girls.

His lack of help in my serious time of need was another reason for our strained practically non existent relationship.

I would just have to let her cry and leave the room sometimes...and go in the kitchen and stuff my face with chocolate chip cookies.

I could never imagine hurting her.

just making my way said...

I've had to take that walk that Jules mentioned sometimes. And Janine summed it up well too. This shit is hard. Most of us have the support to make it through those tough times. My heart breaks for those children, but also for those parents.

Summer said...

That's awful.

My middle child has always been the "crier," very unsatisfied and boundless energy. From birth, he has had the loudest and most shrill cry, I've ever witnessed. When he was just a few months old, I discovered I was pregnant again. I just thought life was stressful with one difficult child. My two youngest are 15 months apart. I Do NOT know how mothers of twins, triplets, etc... stay sane. There were days, I'd just cry with them. I really thought my husband and I would end up divorced. Life was just that stressful, and I didn't feel like anyone understood what I was going through. Then I reached out to women who had been through my exact situation. It was wonderful to hear that there wasn't anything wrong with me. I think that's what anyone who is at their wits end needs.

I agree with Jules, there are times moms need to put that baby in their crib (gently), and go outside on the front porch for about 5 minutes.

a Tonggu Momma said...

Once, during the worst of the Tongginator's attachment struggles, I left her in a playpen and walked across the street to my neighbor's house to knock on her door. When she opened the door, and saw me without the Tongginator in tow, she poured me a cup of coffee and sat me down at her kitchen table. Then she went to my house to hang out for awhile. I don't know what I would have done without her that day.

KAM said...

I agree with you and everyone here so completely. Mama's sometimes need a time out, too. It's the stories of repeated DHS calls, with no action against the parents and then a baby or child hurt or dead, that get to me. Or the stories where the parent "forgets" the baby in the car, on a 100 degree in the hell does that happen?

Aunt Juicebox said...

They obviously know having a baby can be overwhelming because they gave me a bunch of papers to look at and sign, giving me advice on how to deal with a cranky baby, and to NEVER NEVER shake the baby, and so on. And that was 16 years ago. Sadly, you can't force people to take classes before they have a baby, etc. Maybe they should teach them that stuff in elementary school, when they are more likely to remember it. Babies are fragile, handle with care.