It Is Indeed Just Like Ronnie Sang: "Be My Little Baby"

When your child is a newborn basically the only advice anyone in a position of authority has is something along the lines of, when a kid is crying, for God's sake, fix it. Because like we said before, and even though I can't find where exactly I said this before, I know I've said it before, which brings up a funny thing about memory: When you're sleep deprived you're 750 percent more likely to sound like a huge dickhead.

OK, let's reset that paragraph because "we" lost our train of thought: Because like "we" said before, babies cry for clear reasons: They're tired, they're hungry, they shit themselves, they have to burp, they're wet and because their daddies overuse colons when they write. So it was a little bit of a shock when we rolled into the pediatrician's office and he suggested that it might be time for Mr. Baby to "cry it out."

If you're a parent, you know that "cry it out" is a loaded term, a point of contention between veterans who know that a baby needs to learn how to handle shit and soft first-timers who feel like it's important to coddle their little monsters.

It's not that "we're" opposed to babies crying, it's just that after six months of hearing that you need to attend to babies when they cry, it's kind of a shock to hear that that's no longer an operating principle.

Because what it really means when your baby needs to cry it out is that he or she is finally emerging from a newborn's stupor, that their brains are not only hooked up, but fully online and ultimately you're on the clock. In short, they know better and you can teach them that.

I don't necessarily subscribe to this, mind you. To me, Mr. Baby is clearly becoming more and more sentient but I don't always get the sense that he is able to take away lessons from this cold, cruel world. But that said, there was something about the visit to the pediatrician's office that was a little different.

It all started out innocently enough: We got to the office on time, which we actually couldn't do at first. After we were there for a while, a newborn showed up and I was too curious, so I asked the parents how old he/she was. It was their second visit — the one that happens five days after the baby is born. Then the dad asked how we were sleeping. That of course opened the floodgates — I'm all too happy to talk about how badly we're sleeping, which is sort of unfair because since we switched to disposable overnight diapers, I don't ever have to get up.

A friend with an older kid prefaced a bit of advice with that old saw, "Opinions are like assholes . . ." and that didn't not go through my head as I talked to these folks, but like I said, I couldn't help myself. And besides, it cut the sting of going to the doctor's office and seeing that your newborn wasn't the youngest newborn in the room. Interestingly, I'm reading on the Googles that the definition of "newborn" seems to be a baby under four weeks old.

So I'm right in the middle of expounding on the virtues of a co-sleeper when the Vaudeville hook appeared and we were summoned back to the examination room, where, honestly, I feel like we were put to save everyone else from ourselves.

So here's what happens when you're at the pediatrician's office, at least if your kid is a newborn baby: They first weigh and measure your baby, which means that they tell you to strip the kid to their diaper in order to prepare them to get fully naked. After they're done — and hopefully your kid doesn't pee on the scale, which happened to us and which is I think the reason why the one nurse there doesn't see Mr. Baby anymore — you put the kid back into his or her diaper and wait for the doctor to examine him or her.

While we were waiting, Mr. Baby was his typical joyous self — goofing, smiling, sort of laughing, or at least what passes for laughing now. Then the nurse came in and she started to prepare the vaccinations, which were going to be two shots, one on each thigh. And Mr. Baby suddenly got just a little bit curious about what the lady was doing. And then he got a little more quiet. And then when the doctor came in and started examining him, it sort of looked like he knew what was up.

Now you hear about this when it comes to pets. Our childhood cats hated the ancient cat carrier we had, which we kept in the hot storage room off the garage and which always signaled to them that they were about to go get their sex organs harvested, or some such horrible fate. Jen's dog also disliked the vet, and as a Bichon, a fairly "smart" breed, seemed to understand days in advance what was going to happen.

But it never occurred to me, not in the six short months we've owned our child, that he was this "with it." Mr. Baby let out a squeal and a cry at one point, and I had to hold him. Basically, not only did he know, he totally knew, which made Jen and me a little bit nervous when we considered what else he might possibly have retained along the way.

This was exactly when the pediatrician asked us how Mr. Baby was sleeping. Or maybe this was when we asked the pediatrician about Mr. Baby's sleeping patterns. At any rate, the matter of sleeping was raised.

The takeaway, which we took away, or rather slunk away dragging it behind us like a fifty-pound bag of fertilizer, was that we needed to put Mr. Baby in a different room when he sleeps.

Now you might be all, Boo-fucking-hoo — kids aren't supposed to sleep in their parents' room, and like, yeah, well, sure, of course. But it's also so much easier to scoop up your child and nurse him or her to sleep. Babysitting becomes a slight issue of course, but you get my point: We needed to get our shit together and give this boy some tougher love.

But as the pediatrician pointed out, this makes everything else that much more difficult: Feeding, naps, ever being able to leave the house as an adult ever again.

So I guess we're supposed to let him "cry it out." And just to be clear, the doctor wasn't saying to lock him in a room and let him squeal himself to sleep. It's more subtle than that. Though I'm not sure how . . . I guess it's more subtle by a matter of minutes is all.

And it strikes me as pretty funny to think about the language: "Let" him cry it out. Like you say "I'll let you go now . . ." when you're trying to get off the phone with someone. It's like, oh, how magnanimous of me to "let" my baby "cry it out." What a privilege!

The other thing about Mr. Baby being six months old — exactly six months old tomorrow, actually — is that he's firmly passed over the line between "baby" and "baby who can do a lot more stuff." Chief of which is eating so-called "solid" foods, which aren't really that solid once we fix them up into a baby-safe slurry of single-ingredient-plus-breast-milk-and-sometimes-baby-cereal. And then there's the stroller.

Now we registered for a less-expensive version of a "nice" stroller, the Maclaren Volo, which I especially liked for its light weight, back when I foolishly believed I'd be going all over the city with Mr. Baby in tow, and I could effortlessly swing the stroller over my shoulder while I carried Mr. Baby up and down subway stairs. Maybe we will do this at some point, but for now, it's all I can do to get done whatever it is I'm supposed to be doing for money, plus keeping the house in check while Jen is away and of course raising a young child. In short, it's like, "Fuck," which was basically what I was thinking when the pediatrician revealed that our son has the developmental ability to fuck with our sleep patterns and keep us awake at night.

The other thing about the Maclaren Volo is that it's only for a child six months or up, in part because it is designed for a child who can hold his or her neck up on his or her own. So we had to wait on using it. I used it for the first time today.

Now the last thing you want to hear from a new parent is that he or she is feeling kind of sad, but I was feeling kind of sad about the idea that we would have to torture our child by isolating him in his own space while he "cried it out." I wanted to go down to the park and sit there by the river where it was slightly cooler than our living room. Maybe I wanted to read a little while Mr. Baby enjoyed his time in the stroller. That didn't happen — I took him out of the stroller and played with him on a blanket — but I wanted to do something a little different today. Not really sure why, but I did.

And that was all well and good and we had a good time and Mr. Baby was sleeping in the stroller when on our way home when a well-intentioned lady stopped me and directed my attention to the weird lump of baby slumped in his stroller in a scary way: I guess I didn't put him in the stroller correctly and then when I got home I realized I had the totally wrong setting for the strap.

We have way more work to do, and somewhat more time, and we'll eventually figure it out but for the time being I think we need to keep him happy and joyous and (mostly) immobile. And hopefully he won't be too scarred by the whole thing in the end.

Posted: June 29th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: The Cult Of Domesticity | Tags: , , , ,

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