Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Breaking Bad

Olive had reached the breaking point. A weekend on Cape Cod. Then a weekend staying with her grandparents while her parents abandoned her to go fly across the country to drink beer and ride bikes and talk like adults. Now we had dragged her 5 hours in the car up to Bar Harbor to spend a weekend with her other grandparents. She was going to put her foot down.

One of the most difficult things to get used to as a parent is not being able to communicate with her when something is going wrong. This also opens you up to a world of unsolicited advice from anyone within a half mile radius of a crying baby.

I think she has a tummy ache.
Oh, that baby is definitely teething.
She needs to be picked up.
I think those cloth diapers are bothering her.
Wow, she is over-tired.
Wow, she obviously isn’t tired, why are you putting her down for a nap?
She is over-full.
She is hungry.
She doesn’t like the car seat.
There is sun in her eyes.
She is cold.
She is hot.
She wants to play.
She is over-stimulated.
She wants her mommy.
She wants her daddy.
She wants her toy.
She wants a different toy.
She is wet.
She needs to poop.
She has gas.
She needs to burp.

Usually these little suggestions are also directed at the baby, in an attempt, I guess, to not seem too overbearing. People don’t say to the parent:
I wonder if she is wet.
They say to your child:
Does little baby need to be changed? Do you have a little wet dippy-dipe?

My two favorite are the teething and the tummy ache. They are easy excuses and they have no cure, so it explains away every instance of crying. People immediately latch on to the teething excuse if they see a baby drooling or putting something in their mouth. While those are signs of teething, they are also signs of being a baby. Olive drools enough that if left unattended in an empty bathtub, she may drown herself in saliva with hours. She also tastes every object she can grab, particularly if it is a hotel remote control or anything virtually guaranteed to give her the swine flu. If she is teething, then she has been doing it since she was about 7 weeks old.

The tummy ache excuse is also convenient because there is really no way to tell. Usually, the tummy ache comment is followed up by a full dietary examination of the mother.

What did you eat yesterday.?
Um, some yogurt, a turkey sandwich, an apple, and then pasta with broccoli and…
AH! There it is! Broccoli! That is why she is crying. You ate broccoli yesterday!

This is the point at which my wife wants to drop to the ground and sweep your legs out from under you. Apparently nursing mothers must limit their diet to bread, clear liquids, and non-citrus fruit. I have determined, by process of elimination, that these are the only items that don’t give babies tummy aches. Broccoli is the number one culprit. I’m surprised anyone eats the stuff as just its mere essence in the breast milk can rend a baby useless for hours!

Anyway, we heard, and uttered, most of these excuses while in Bar Harbor. Olive cried during the day and wouldn’t let us put her down. She woke up every two hours and wouldn’t go back to sleep. One night she slept on Leanne’s chest, as she wouldn’t let us put her down without doing her best imitation of a horror movie victim. All this uneasiness was exacerbated by the fact that we had my in-laws sleeping in the next room and there were other guests at the Inn on both sides of our bedroom. We didn’t want to get kicked out because our normally super sleeper was keeping everyone awake. Letting her “cry it out” wasn’t an option.

When we are tired, or hungry, or cold, or hot, or have a tummy ache, or a tooth ache, or when we have pooped our pants, we can tell someone, we can notify the authorities, we can change our underwear, and we can remedy the problem. As parents, we need to guess. Yes, it is an educated guess. You do get to know different cries. When your baby is farting like a tuba you can be pretty sure that there is some digestive problem. Yes, some parents teach their kids sign language. I’m sure it is amazing. We aren’t those parents. So what you are left with is the two of us frantically walking and bouncing Olive around a dark room at 1, 2, 4, 4:30, and 5:30 in the morning asking ourselves if she is hungry, overtired, cold, or teething.

Really, she was probably just getting a little thrown off by being in a different place again, around different people, with a slightly different routine. I mean, how many of us have digestive trouble when we travel? How many of us are grumpy after a long car ride? Babies got to be the same, right?

Luckily, after we returned home, all seems to be returning to normal. Only up once last night. I guess she stopped teething and her tummy feels better.

1 comment:

  1. Haha Oh my god, trying to soothe a cranky baby Sadie in front of other people used to give me anxiety attacks. Now I wish I could go back in time and say "No, my baby isn't hungry, she just hates you."

    I'm sorry little O was grumpy on your trip.