28 December 2011, by Dannie Cho
I found myself getting royally annoyed with my 4-month-old daughter last Thursday.
I guess it was a simple case of mis-matched expectations.
I expected to be able to sleep through the night, go to work, come home, play with her a little, then go through the cycle again.
She expected to be able to wake up at any time she wants (like 3 to 4 am), make lots of noise thereby causing us to also wake and try all ways and means to put her back to sleep. Then when I get home all concussed from managing performance appraisals and other minor crises with a depleted team at work (because it’s the year end holidays and half the office is on leave), she expected to be allowed to bawl and howl like a banshee as I was carrying her.
Hmm… let’s try putting her down on her playmat. Bawl.
Let’s try letting her sit up. Bawl.
Let’s try holding her close so that her tummy is against me. Bawl.
Let’s try flipping her around so that she faces outwards and can see stuff. Bawl.
Let’s try singing and humming to her. Bawl.
Try bouncing and walking around a little more. Bawl.
Give her a toy. Bawl.
Give her the pacifier. Bawl.
Hold her by the ankles upside down from a second-storey window. Are you nuts?!
To be honest, this was not the first time it happened. My parents had the same problem with her when they visited while I was on duty travel the week before. The wife reported to me that the moment my parents carried her, she became inconsolable and refused to stop crying and struggling. I witnessed this as well when I returned, and my parents came by again for a visit.
“What is this?”, I chided her. “You’d better not get any high-and-mighty ideas. Your grandparents are going to carry you if they want and you are going to stop fussing!”
Yeah, well… it took another 20 minutes before my words finally sank in and she stopped screaming. But then again, it’s also entirely possible that she stopped screaming because she got tired out and fell asleep. Hard to scream when you’re asleep, eh? But on the Thursday mentioned in my opening para, she seems to have gained huge amounts of stamina, which could only have been achieve through hard work, determination and constant practice.
And I gave up.
I gave up on consoling my baby. Passed her to the wife. “You take care of her.” Went straight to the TV room and popped in a blu-ray disc for the movie ‘Suckerpunch’. Tried watching it in Mega Movie mode, where the director and cast gave additional insights in the concepts of the movie, but found that I wanted something that was not so cerebral. Just mindless shooting and fighting interspersed with pretty images. I withdrew into myself. A mental shutdown. A timeout.
The wife, angel that she is, managed to calm Colette down enough to pass her over to my in-laws. She came to the TV room and just sat there with me, holding me. No words needed, other than “You want dinner?”.
And I myself began to calm down.
As adults, we expect things to constantly improve. Move forward. But I also remembered my friend and fellow-blogger Mandy’s post, posted when her son, Cristan, was about 3-4 months old. Things regress for a while. Baby finds it harder to sleep. Gets really fussy as well. And two epiphanies hit me.
1) Our babies are babies because they are babies. Do they know that since they are 4 months old, they need to behave in a certain way that is acceptable to us as parents? Probably not. They are still at a stage where they respond to natural instincts. In the grand scheme of things, 4 months is a pretty young age for parents to be able to have any expectations on their children’s behaviour. Logic does not always work here. As parents, we just have to endure this terrible phase, and work towards training our kids to be better behaved as they grow older and are able to grasp ‘adult’ concepts better.
2) This Maybebaby blog thing is really damned good! Full of useful information! (Actually, it depends on whose blog you read. I’m not sure I have been giving lots of useful information myself. Gotta read my posts all over again…) But it definitely helps that I am able to follow the lives of fellow bloggers with kids slightly older than Coco, and learn from them what to expect and maybe, how to handle those problems as they come.
As of now, no matter how I felt, and no matter how I will feel in future when she’s again bawling her head off, I know that I am addicted to my little Coco, pretty much the same way Mr Druggie is addicted to CoCaine. The occasional highs induced by her smiles are more than enough for me to keep coming back for more. Yeah, I may not be the best at calming her down right now, but I’m sure I will eventually move up the ranking for the ‘Best Person to Make Coco Happy’ category.
Merry belated Christmas, everyone. Happy Holidays!