So this is just a word, for those of you who are blessed with subsequent babies. It is also a reminder to myself.
Just because you are babylost, you are still also a normal mother, with normal emotions and normal capacities... you are actually still a human being... and this can be hard.
My struggle of late, beyond the nuances of juggling three children which I am pleased to say I believe I am handling with relative grace, involves the car.
It involves the car, my rural home, and one furious, screaming Fiona Clementine.
Unlike most babies, who can be taken for a car ride to induce sleep, all of my babies have despised the car, and Fiona is no exception. During my pregnancy I would often say that this one was going to have to sleep in the car... she'd have no choice. With two older siblings going to two different schools, both 12 minute drives from our home and 7 minutes apart, she was going to be a prisoner in the bucket for at least 45 minutes each day, and that would be if we didn't have anywhere else to go. But alas, the dark side of babywearing rears its ugly head, and not only does Fiona Clementine refuse to sleep in the car, but even the sight of the bucket in our hallway can send her into helpless cries of despair.
And thus begins what has become the bane of my existence. I dread each moment I spend transporting my older children (or myself) anywhere, because with very few exceptions every single second spent in the "golden van" is marked with the loud, piercing newborn cries of my sweet fourthborn. Her crying is hysterical and very loud, with nary a pause. When she gets really cranked up, and quite hoarse from having gone at it for an especially long time, she is reduced to these quick, barky yelps. But it is crying, all the time, every time, and my nerves are frayed and almost shot from it.
What to do, what to do?
Silly woman, you should carpool, perhaps you are saying, imagining me burning these fossil fuels for nothing. But alas, there are no other children in our town who commute to the neighboring town for school, and so this option is lost.
What about your husband, is he such a lazy goodfornothing that he cannot help you cart these two big children to and fro to relieve your little baby from some of her trials? But again, alack and alas, he teaches school and leaves for work at 5:30 in the morning and returns after school is out. And he has no flexibility with his schedule, of course.
So I am alone, hands tied, head downcast each morning as I strap my sweet Fiona Clementine into the blue bucket for her torture session.
"Does it make you want to cry?" asked my dear friend Erin, also babylost.
"No," I answered, and I'm sure she was surprised. But it's true. It doesn't make me want to cry, it makes me want to bang my head against the wall with frustration. I feel awfully, awfully sorry for Fiona, and my heart bleeds for her, but it is my absolute inability to do anything for her that is the predominant emotion.
So today we were on our sixth leg of travel, our sixth full-tilt, high decibel wailing trip home, and the kids had been slow buckling themselves into their carseats, and it had been sleeting down my back as I waited kind-of-but-not-really patiently for them to do so, and now I was finally driving and she was screaming and for the first time, I didn't coo softly at her from my perch behind the wheel, but instead my voice came out sounding as exasperated as I felt and I said to her, "Could you please stop crying?"
I truly did, for a brief moment, feel that exasperation, and I felt like an almost normal mother for being fed up with my newborn. Because I am, after all, human, so those emotions do happen...
And then in comes the babylost part.
Because my cousin's baby, Andrew, whom many of you remember, was diagnosed with his leukemia at somewhere around 11 weeks, and Fiona is now nearing 10 weeks. So now that I've birthed her alive, and gotten over the hump of accepting her as born alive and strong, now I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop, analyzing what I suck out of her nose for signs of blood, worrying about everything she does as a potential sign of a lurking killer. I am obsessed and fantasize about asking the pediatrician to run bloodwork on her just in case... and at the same time I also can see, with my other eye, that she is robust and healthy and has displayed no signs of being uhealthy at all.
But, back to the screaming in the car...
of course, after I asked her to stop crying, I realized this: of course now something is going to happen, because I didn't appreciate this moment. I wondered what was wrong with me, when for a year of my life I day dreamed about the cries of my infant and now here I was asking her to be silent, as if one baby's silence hadn't been enough to almost kill me. I felt as if I had committed a true wrong against her, when in true fact, I was just being human, I was just being human.
So this is my message to myself, and anyone else who needs to fill in the blank to their own situation. I absolutely love this baby with all my heart. And while it breaks my heart that half of her awake time in a given day is spent screaming in the back seat, I really don't have any control over this. I am doing the best that I can. And if I get frustrated, this is because I am human, not because I am ungrateful. Charlotte has taught me a great deal about being grateful, but I am sure even she, could she have had the good fortune to be here for the ride, would have wanted Fiona to stop crying.
(and I also know that there might be something about her being held literally almost every second of her life except being in the carseat that might have something else to do with it... but that's another story for another day)