Wednesday, December 6, 2006

A difficult time

As a mother, my job is to take care of what is possible and trust God with the impossible ~ Ruth Bell Graham

My dearest E.,

My joy after having played with you extensively last night was short-lived when it was time to take you up to bed. You were rather docile at first, allowing me to take you upstairs. You twirled a strand of my hair around your little fingers as I walked up, carrying you against my left hip and clutching a big bottle of milk and another smaller one of warm water in my right hand. When we walked into our bedroom, your mouth formed into a perfect little 'O' and you said, "Whoo...." You always say that when we go up to bed. Sometimes, it's a happy whoo...sometimes, it's not, when you're still full of energy and want to play, but have been hindered by your mother, who insists that you must go to bed by 10 p.m.

You settled on my bed and through sheer laziness, refused to hold your own bottle. I lay beside you, brushing the tiny baby hairs off your forehead as you fed. You drank 4 ozs of milk, a big disappointment to me because your grandfather told me you refused to have any milk throughout the day. You ranted and raved angrily when I tried to give you more, and with one quick, sweeping motion of your hand, you knocked the bottle off my hand and a slow steady stream of milk trickled onto the bedsheets.

What a mess that was. And what a nightmare just beginning.

I could do nothing right. You howled, cried, threw tantrums, screamed. I could not lay you down onto our bed even before you would start crying. You wriggled, twisted, flailed your arms, kicked out at me everytime I picked you up and held you against me to soothe you. When you finally allowed me to lie you down in my arms beside me, I patted your little bum, all the while shushing-shushing you into quietness. Mommy's here. Mommy loves you. There's nothing to be afraid of. Tell me what's wrong, pumpkin. Mommy's here.

You continued crying. Sat up in bed and wrung your hands. Pulled at your hair and ears angrily. Tossed your pacifier away. Refused to let me hold you. Screamed until your face scrunched up and turned red.

I maintained my semblance of calm and dignity, all the while ignoring your tantrums. Left you in your crib. You screamed murder and I had to pick you up again in 2 minutes: it damned near broke my heart to hear you suffering that way. Wriggled yourself out of my arms, sat on the bed. I lay back on my pillow, tired, exhausted, at a loss about what next to do. Closed my eyes... and felt your hand stroking my cheek, your head pressed against my neck. You sobbed quietly, still stroking my face, rubbed your nose against mine. I thought you had reached a state of calmness then as my heart melted, and I kissed you tenderly.

The calm didn't last for too long.... You acted up soon again. My head was pounding, not only because I was tired, but because I was distressed. Checked your temperature: no fever. Checked your tummy for wind: nada, but I gave you a tummy rub anyway and tried to feed you some gripe water, which you refused. Took you downstairs finally, and let you play with your toys for 5 minutes. Brought you back up. More screaming and tantrums. You finally fell asleep from the sheer tiredness.

You woke up again at 2.00 a.m. and the same thing happened. The crying, the screaming. Your father and I argued. I felt sorry for you, because I didn't know what was wrong. I felt helpless. When you were finally settling down about 3.30 a.m., you pressed your body against me, sobbing quietly, clinging to my t-shirt. I stroked the top of your head, tears running down my face.

I'm so sorry, sweet pea. I'm so sorry I couldn't do more for you. My heart bled buckets last night just hearing you cry. All I can offer is my love and comfort- I could not find anything else to do for you, short of taking you to the hospital to see what was wrong.

I sighed in relief when you finally fell asleep and I quietly put you into your crib. My thoughts wandered aimless then as I lay in bed, watching the light from the street lamp outside cast shadows on the curtains. Your father breathed noisily, but you were quiet, sleeping peacefully at last.

With one final surge of mixed emotions, I began to cry again. I don't know why, sweet pea. I cried more when I stepped near your crib to look at you. By 5.00 a.m., I was still awake although tired. I blew you a kiss. I love you.

Heck it. I went in to the office at 5.30 a.m. I haven't slept a wink. I suspect today is going to be rather awful for me.

Shoes, shoes, shoes

One, two, buckle my shoe.... ~ traditional nursery rhyme

My dearest E.,

Methinks you have developed a thing for shoes, just like your mother. Last night, I proudly took out the two new pairs of shoes I had bought for you. You have rather long feet for an almost-14 month old. You wear a size 4, which is the average size for a 2-year old baby... You must get the long feet from your father.

Your current favourite pair is a cute, red pair of Mary-Janes, with little silk rosebuds. I bought it for you just a week before your birthday, and you've already outgrown then. What a pity. Notwithstanding, you still love it. You like to pick them up and wave them around. Sometimes, I have to restrain you from trying to put the garter strap into your mouth!

Last night, though, I laid out all your shoes for you in the living room, including your new ones. You stared at them, fascinated. And I laughed when you stuck your legs straight out in front of you and tried to force your little feet into them. I helped you into a pair, and you kept looking down at the velcro fasteners. When I had finally put them on, I helped you to your feet and you grinned at me, showing me your 4 very cute little teeth. And you stomped your feet on the spot, all the while chuckling, as if someone were tickling you- you were so happy! Left, right, left, right.

You bounced a little and jumped on the spot too- all the while very careful to keep a firm grip on my hands. How adorable that was! It was as if you were testing the tensile strength of the shoes, scrutinizing every little stitch, contemplating the comfort on your feet. And then- you insisted on walking: from the living room to the kitchen, to the study room, to the wash area, and back through the kitchen to the living room again.... And you smiled a huge smile of approval at me, as if to say, "Yes, these will do....!" And continued to play with your shoes.

What a marvellous show you put on for your Mommy! I am so proud of you, my beautiful baby girl... By the way, you sure do have quite a number of pairs of shoes for a baby...