The past month has been… different. Privately, I think of it as the teenage period of babyhood. There have been fewer easy smiles, more mood swings, more expressions of independence without the payoff of actual independence. If anything, he’s been especially clingy this past month, yelling his disapproval when we try to leave him alone in his play yard for more than two minutes. When I approach or sit near him, he crawls over and raises his arms, pleading to be held, and then pushes me away in the next moment.
We keep trying to find ways to make him laugh. We are bad clowns, practising bad physical comedy. Ooops! The toy dropped! Ooops! Mama has tripped over something.
He has learned how to cry like a big boy. Big shuddering sobs and double breathing in the aftermath, making CIO impossible these days. The first afternoon that it happened, I crouched quiet as a stone behind his crib, his face centimeters away from mine. He couldn’t see me, thanks to the swaddle we’d placed over his crib bars, but it seemed like he knew I was there. He screamed and screamed and hiccuped and screamed, a mess of little boy heartbrokenness. I vacillated between being heartbroken myself, and furious. It is strange how angry I can get, over nothing more than irrational crying. It’s as if those two emotions – anger and love – occupy adjacent spaces, and I’m tottering on a knife edge. Please go to sleep, sweetheart. Please go to sleep.
The past week has also been challenging with a bout of bad diarrhoea (10 diaper changes in one day), accompanied by a painful diaper rash and a string of middle-of-the-night poo poos. We’re not out of the woods yet, and tonight I’m bracing myself for a 2am wake up, and at least an hour of song and dance before we all go back to bed again. The record was two hours last week, which included throwing a bunch of plastic balls around the living room to tire him out enough so that he would go back to bed without protesting.
I’ve added a new word to my vocabulary: Desitin. It stinks, but it cleared up his diaper rash in record time. Just make sure the butt is totally dry before applying. The upside to this: lots of cute naked baby. (It also means that I spend much of his meal time saying “No!” while he explores two new things simultaneously – his pointing index finger, and his penis.)
Meanwhile, through it all, there is this: