Friday, August 12, 2005

Yeah Baby!

When a couple is having their first baby, I love to ask them about their expectations, to get a feel for just how out of touch with reality they are. It's a sadistic pleasure of mine you see, because up until the very moment that the first labor pain strikes like a red hot, electric cattle prod dipped in sulfuric acid, the blissful couple still believes they can catch a movie the next day.

A baby, that little bundle of joy, hardly bigger than the span from your wrist to your elbow, is more devastating than a twenty megaton atomic bomb, a road runner to your coyote, spy vs. your spy, like McCauley Caulken home alone. Everything you knew has been stripped away like leg hair on a wax strip. Your friends become your old friends, replaced with other wild eyed, fledgling parents, who like yourselves, have swam too far under water to get back to the surface.

Sleep? We don't need no stinking sleep!

The laundry piles up, the house looks like a warzone. Unless you are one of the lucky ones, the baby cries for a variety of reasons: dirty diaper, gas at either end, hungry, tired, uncomfortable, wants to be held, wants to be put down, scared. The list goes on, but the worst part is, you never really know for sure. So you go through your list of remedies. For gas I patented the bicycle leg pump, which works like a charm every time. No two babies are the same, and what one finds soothing sends the other into a tiny tantrum. We've tried swings, rockers, placing the car seat on a running clothes dryer, running the blow dryer in the room for white noise, CDs of lullabyes, bird calls, and waterfalls, singing, cooing, talking silly, making stupid faces, tripping on imaginary banana peels. You name it, we've tried it. When the baby finally falls asleep, mommy and daddy collapse like discarded marionettes wherever we happen to be standing.

Sex? No unless you are both insomniacs.

My friends Vicky and Richard were our next door neighbors in San Francisco, and were one of the first to disappear once we became no fun. They invited us to a party once, but our youngest son, who was only around sixteen months at the time, nearly fell from a drop off in their back yard which could have killed him, so we had to leave to avoid the danger. That was the last we heard from them until Vicky got pregnant.

By this time my wife and I had moved out of the city and into our first house, and Richard and Vicky had moved into a house only ten miles away. Vicky and I commuted into the city together on the Ferry from Vallejo.

"So, are you ready to have this baby Vick?" I asked her.

"Oh sure, no problem," she said with swagger. "I have a dog, so I feel like I'm ready."

"Oh really," I laughed, "You think raising a dog is the same thing, huh?"

"Well, it will be a little different. But come on! Have you ever had a dog?"


"Well, Charlie cries to get out, and you can't leave him alone. He always is begging for attention and we have to walk him. He's a huge pain in the ass."

"Ok, whatever you say Vick. But do me a favor and bookmark this conversation in your head, because we will revisit."

She gave birth to little Elias, affectionately known as Eli, a beautiful little boy that was a perfect blend of his parents. He had a devilish personality, and his parents let him do almost anything he wanted to do. For instance, they let him draw with markers on the floor, thinking that it would give a cute modern art feel. But as he grew up, his liberal upbringing made him hard to control. Vicky became exasperated and turned to my wife Beth for advice, and the two became great friends, as both were parents of wild boys. And nobody on the planet knows what that means until they've experienced it first hand.

Vicky had an epiphany one day and told Beth, "You know, I am so impressed with you for raising your son with no help at all. You didn't have any family around to help you, or any," she paused with an abashed expression, "friends. I wasn't there for you and I'm sorry."

After Vicky had a reign on motherhood, and her son and mine were playing together nicely, I finally reminded her of our little conversation.

"Eli has been a lot of work, huh?"

"He drives me crazy sometimes," she said affectionately, looking at the two boys with a dreamy far off look.

"No nearly as difficult, say, as raising a dog?"

Her laugh burst out, as if escaping. "Ok, you got me on that one."


jenbeauty said...

Mine are 8 and 4 and I still get no sleep. Someone once told me that when you have that first child you will never sleep again, until you are dead.

Beth said...

I remember those sleepless nights. Somehow I also thought it would be so much easier. Haha.

Scott said...

Jen - Now it seems to be a little better, nothing compared to having a newborn. You remember those days!

Knitter - We all do, but there is something about kids, because they are so worth all the trouble, that we forget. It seems that all grandparents have completely forgotten what it was like.

magnetbabe said...

This post makes me want to go straight home and take another contraceptive pill.

Scott said...

MB - It does have that effect doesn't it. Remember though, that for all the trouble they put us through, there is nothing more gratifying in the world. Kids say and do the cutest things.

Tee said...

LOL! A nice light hearted one. :)

I must be one of the only people who realized as soon as I got pregnant what that meant. I wept many times knowing my life would never be the same. Of course I didn't know the magnitude of it until I had had my sons - but I had an inkling ahead of time. :)

A. Darcy said...

When I first got pregante my grandmother said, all you need to do is learn how to sleep sitting up. I thought she was nutty. Soon after the birth of my daughter, I aquired this as a survival skill, as my little angel seemed to know the second I lay down, even if she wasnt in the same room, she would scream.... I slept upright for 4 months. Kids are great!

trinamick said...

Aww, and just when I was questioning whether sterilization really was the answer. :P I have a 14 yo nephew and I babysat for years. I know all about screaming, crappy, puking, falling, seizing, colicky, bawling, choking, bundles of delight. I'll let someone else have them.

Scott said...

Tee - I decided to take it easy today. See, even when you think you know you don't.

AD - That is classic! Just what I'm talking about.

Trina - Don't be scared off because it has it's moments, moments that you don't enjoy quite as much when it's other peoples kids, even if they are closely related. There's also that extra edge that you don't experience as a baby sitter. Ask A. Darcy, who had to learn to sleep sitting up!

mr. schprock said...

Here I am going to brag: my two girls were easy! After the first month, my wife and I could sleep through the night. They were also great in airplanes, restaurants and movie theaters. It's the teenage years that affect my sleep. I look back on those days and think, "if I can only control them now like I could then!"

Mr. T said...

Mrs T and I were pretty blessed as our kids were pretty good during their early years.. they slept through the night rather quickly and both miss Colic.

However, that's not to say we haven't had our bouts with insanity. Or the ability to have a real social life. Most of our friends are childless and most social calls are done at our place as finding a trustworthy babysitter is near impossible.

Would never trade them for anything in the world, though.

Scott said...

S - Oh yeah, I remember you saying something about this before. I don't envy any man who is the parent of teenaged daughters. I know I would be insane when they start dating. I've heard about people that have quiet babies, but I thought that was only in fairy tales.

T - You too! Khaaaaan! I mean, I'm happy for you. We don't have any babysitters yet either, and I'm not anxious to leave them alone with anybody. A catch 22.

Dixie Belle said...

LOL! I only had one kid and he's grown, thank god.

trinamick said...

Well, I don't want kids anyway, but those excuses just get added to the con list. I don't like babies until they're about 6 months old, when they start responding and you can actually play with them. I like them from then until about 6 years old, and then they're annoying all over again.

That said, I have a cat who cries, pukes, craps on the floor, gets lost, whines when he's hungry, never shuts a door behind him, etc. - and it's a little like having a kid around. Except you can't lock a kid on the back porch when you're sick of them. :P

Scott said...

Dixie - And now you miss him, huh? There's just no winning.

Trina - You think like a man! That's exactly how I think about it. I know I'm supposed to get all sloppy about my kids when they pop out, but you are right, the real fun is when you can interact. Until then it's like communicating with an alien lifeform that speaks telepathically.

trinamick said...

Exactly. And when I walk in the door, all my female friends thrust their kids in my face. "Come look at the baby!" "See my baby!" "Hold my baby!" I'm always tempted to say, "That's the sweetest looking boiled lobster I've ever seen."

Scott said...

I took a photo of my oldest when the nurse laid him on the table. He was all contorted and red, and looked exactly like my Grandpa, and wrinkly old guy. Too bad you can't just be honest: babies are not cute.

Jason said...

Scott, great blog! We're on the same page as far as being Dads. I must say, though, that I'm currently finding my two puppies to be just a little harder to handle than my kids, but I'm expecting them to mellow out soon.

The Zombieslayer said...

Yeah, you tell them. So many stupid people out there who think it's going to be easy.

Funny, I just posted about how some people shouldn't have kids.

Scott said...

Jason - Pets can be a pain too, but nothing compared to a newborn. My kids have eased up considerably. Thanks for dropping by.

Slayer - I wouldn't say stupid, I'd opt for blissfully unaware. Good to see you here.

Miranda said...

Some babies really are cute.
The boy babies in my family
were. My youngest sister who
will start kindergarten this year,
was the ugliest baby ever. She had red marks and a squished face. Now she's as beautiful as a little girl can be, but she was one ugly baby ;)

Scott said...

Miranda - Ok, I admit it, some babies can be cute, but the odds are very stacked against it. And they definitely get cute, don't they?

Angie said...

Great post! came over via jasonsjoint. True, oh so true. I loved it. I have a 3 yr. old and a 4 month old. Both slept through the night thought around 8 weeks. Schedule is the biggest key, I found personally and the bicycle move is AWESOME!! Love your writing style.....

Beth said...

My daughter was a hellion as a baby, but my son was easy squeasy. I had mine within a year of one another though so was breastfeeding while pregnant. There's something wrong with even looking at that in a sentence, let alone doing it.

Children completed my life though, plain and simple. It's amazing to end up with the two you wanted before you even knew you'd have them. That's how I feel.

Both of mine were potty trained before they were 2. My daughter knew all her phonics at 2 and was reading fluently at 3. This was luckily as she still helps me parent second son.

I'll admit though, we're all more friends than anything else. I heard this was dangerous, but I'm level-headed about my life choices so I hope it works out. I know these pre-teen years have had a lot of angst in them so I'm hoping to have a coma through the actual teen ones.

Trevor Record said...

And yet, whenever I telll people that I am not planning on ever having kids, they look at me like I'm a damn fool.

Mrs.T said...

LOL, I hate people who think that a cat or a dog is the same.. because NO its not.

Braleigh said...

This post made me want to rip out my ovaries and stomp them to oblivion.

I've really missed your exceptionally skilful writing during my internet hiatus. Wow...I sounded pretty pompous there...Apologies. I do really enjoy your accounts.

Scott said...

Angie - A fellow bicyclist. It's a jedi master move!

Knitter - I think being friends with your kids is awesome. Sure it can have it's drawbacks, but I hope I have that with both my children.

Trevor - Ok, I bitch a lot, and convincingly so, but really, kids are great and I wouldn't change a thing. That really counts for something, don't you think?

Mrs T - Thank you! As they say in Mexico, hay no comparison.

Braleigh - Pomp away! I appreciate your words and hope to keep you coming back for more. Welcome back, I've missed your blog. Oh, and keep the ovaries. I suppose I'll have to post something nice about parenthood...

Shesawriter said...

Scott wrote: "like a red hot, electric cattle prod dipped in sulfuric acid"

OMG! How did you know???? That's exactly what it feels like. Were you a woman in your past life? LOL!


Scott said...

No, I wasn't a woman in a past life, but some would claim that I am part woman now. I listen and learn.