Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Why we don't remember being a baby: Cuz it SUX!

This obviously-written-while-feverish-and-drugged gem of a piece I wrote on July 24 this summer. If memory serves, that was after my first surgery (which TOTALLY failed) when I didn't yet know I was in the initial stages of a massively life-threatening MRSA infection which, after a week or so, was to land me in the ICU for a month and mandate two more surgeries. Awesome. 

I remember starting out to write a (funny?) list of reasons that being a baby sucked. (Because I felt about as helpless as a baby at the time.) Then in the middle it... morphs... into this biological clock thing. And then it delves into my childhood. And somehow ends with a plea for parents everywhere to give their babies some slack.

It's fascinating.

And, yeah, while normally I wouldn't post it (there's a reason it sat in the draft box for all these months), I think there's a tantalizing hindsight thing to looking at it from my (mostly-healed)(okay, okay, my partly-healed-and-at-least-not-feverish-or-stoned) perspective now.

So, without further hedging:

Why Being A Baby SUX
A little something to read the next time your little buddy has led you to a point wherein you find yourself ripping out your own hair from your own skull. 
(And possibly other people's too.)

Here are only some of the ways:

1. They have no control over how loud they fart. They haven't built those specialized American-Retentive muscles that allow more developed release of gas. They can't hold it in during a prayer, or when the doctor is looking right at their butt. Heck! They can't even do the squeezy thing we all do to slow the fart down and keep it quiet! Now, imagine that this was happening and you were a 33 y/o grownup. Awful, right?

2. Nobody loves diaper changing. But imagine that you're the one who has to splay your legs (so dignified!) so Daddy can make sure he got all the accidental spillage. Not pretty, folks.

3. Worse, though? It's when your abdominal muscles aren't strong enuf to keep you from peeing all over the carpet. Gosh it is just so gratifying to need your mom to scrub the carpet when it was your fault. Not. Shame inducing is what it is.

 4. When you're a brand new baby, you can't even roll over. So the only things you can touch are the things arm's length away. An arm's length away from you as you are pinned by your non-existent muscular development means what you can reach while you are flat on your back. This is? Not much. So you try to be OK with it. But being in a darkened room by yourself gets so boring. So you call out to Ma and Pa (aka you cry rull loud cuz you're not sure where they are.) When they come and figure out that all you wanted was that &^;@€£! Elephant, you can tell they're not happy to have been yanked out of the shower. But you didn't know about the shower, just that you rully wanted to grab something. You would have done it on your own, but you weren't physically capable! Being a baby = absolutely no independence = asking people to do everything for you = they have to drop whatever they're doing to help you = they get bummed when it turns out it was something stupid = you feel crazy bad about being so needy.  Which SUX.

5. The independence thing is huge, actually. Imagine that you couldn't walk on your own, roll over in bed on your own, get your own food when you're hungry. Forget being able to drive yourself anywhere, you can't even get in the car or get your own seatbelt on! And your dearth of physical capacity means even when you DO go somewhere, it is almost never somewhere you want to go. And let's just forget the whole peeing, dressing, showering, issues. Too humiliating to talk about again.

 6. Last of all (for now) let's talk about sleep. When you're a baby, you sleep ALL THE TIME. And it's not like you want to. It just happens to you. And when you fight it? Oh the crankies that result! So, you either miss EVerything interesting going on, or you stress the whole house out so bad, there isn't anything interesting anyway! (Except maybe that throbbing vein on Dad's forehead.) But the irony of it all? So many of your best "awake" hours are when everyone else is sleeping. And it's dark. And lonely. Does anyone love you? Why are you alone? So, the crying. And Mommy reappears! Yay! But... But... She doesn't seem happy to see me... [Ends with everyone crying.]

So, people yak and yak about this "biological clock" thing. Seems like possible hooey. Until, of course, yours starts ticking. Then it's this insane force of nature. Now, my oncologist has forbid me from having any more children. And I am totally OK with that. My two kids already kick my trash. Sometimes literally. (Kids don't usually have super developed senses of hygiene.)

Nevertheless, I am 33, so there is ticking. And it has played out pretty lovely so far. I am deeply in love with babies (I wasn't always that way. A prize to the first person to post the link to the "I hate babies" post from the archives!)

Now, although the love is as deep and pure as any biologically foreordained brain-chemical-palooza, I know I don't want to have my own new baby. For one, half of the joyful surge of dopamine comes from me knowing that soon enough, the baby I borrowed for cuddling goes back and DOESN'T come home with me.

Second, it's the babies who blind me with the oozy primordial lovey love. But when you have your OWN baby, they only stay that way for, like, 45 seconds. Then you have KIDS (who, incidentally, I happen to like better than babies) but your biological clock doesn't care about that, it's all babiesbabiesbabiesbabiesbabiesbabies!!! And you want more. You're never satisfied. The hunger goes on and on and on.

My solution to baby hunger: Baby Snacking. If you snack on other people's babies to sate your hunger, there's an ever-replenishing supply (I live in Utah) and you can just keep on snacking, staying (mostly) satisfied all the way to menopause. Not literal snacking, I'm not a cannibal. I mean, like, borrowing people's babies to love on. Other mommies like the break, I like the cure-to-the-hungries.

My point?

I heart babies. And want the best for them.

And after my surgery, I have had a most unique experience! Having (temporarily) lost the use of my abdominals (they call them your core for a reason; losing them is seriously paraplegic) and also the use of a leg [side note added later than this was written: by the end of the ordeal, it was TWO legs], I have gone back in time a bit.

All those things up there? (Plus a plethora more!) Kinda exactly what has happened to me. (Minus the "kinda" part.)

There has been one difference, though. My parents have been so friggin wonderful to me! Much more wonderful than I'd imagine they were when I was an actual baby. (At least... much more wonderful than *I* was when I had babies.) When I wake them up at 3a, they don't whimper (as is the normal, human, response). They smile at me and say, "how can I help, honey?" When various body fluids are spilled, there's no parental panic. There's just this sweetness and tenderness and devotion. Heck, my dad literally BROKE HIS FOOT taking care of me. But did that stop him? No. He was just as devoted and sweet and tender as ever.

Now, from what I recall about my own babyhood (I actually do recall some, buy, yeah, not tons) and from the babyhoods of my siblings (cuz I was older and I could watch), my parents' angelic aura as they have been taking care of me this summer is a bit... more glowing... than when we were actual babies.

And dude. I get it. I get it SO MUCH. Maybe I didn't realize how friggin awesome my parents were until the haze of parenthood hit me in the face so hard I saw stars for four years, but they were awesome and they loved us and helped us and were generally amazing parents.

They were human, though.

If I peed all over them, they'd make sounds of protest. If I woke them up at 3a, they'd be groggy and maybe even cranky (who wouldn't?). And I'm guessing that it wasn't fun to lose their independence because they were responsible for someone so... dependent.

So what's the difference between my parents (who were great parents) when I was a baby and with my supernaturally angelic wonders of human kindness parents now?

What I can come up with (post-surgical haze is like moving neurons through nano pools of molasses) is Understanding.

They get it. The get me. They know what's hard for me and what sux. And their empathy and parentally fierce love takes over. They had that parentally fierce love when I was a baby, but they didn't totally know me yet. (I was surprised when I had my own babies how I could be holding and loving these creatures who I knew absolutely. nothing. about.) I couldn't tell them what I was thinking/feeling/intending/etc. If they thought they understood me, well, maybe they were right, but maybe they were just guessing.

So this is my offering on today's celebration of our foremothers and fathers [Remember, this was written on Pioneer Day]: an inter-generational understanding of how much being a baby SUX. (In hopes that such understanding promotes empathy and stuff.)

Sounds all grand, right? I swear when I started this post I was going for funny, mixed with gross, mixed with over-share. But you can't trust those pills they send you home with. They take away pain (and your brain's filters), so u can't stop yourself from goin on and on and on. And as it gets harder to type? It just gets worse!) but when the pain is gone, you feel so damn....wise or something!

 So let's end with a recap: being a baby sux.

I know this WAY too well for someone in her 30's cuz surgery and cancery crappy crap SUX. And my bio-clock makes me want to love on babies.

So mothers and fathers be good to those adorably edible tiny round humans. They can't thank you right now, but there is a reason they adore you. (And they DO adore you. Even when they don't know how to let you know.)

4 comments:

Marty and Peggy said...

January 12, 2006. This post sure makes my comment at the time apropos! :) We kind of sound like grouches when you were a baby.

SWILUA said...

Points to you!

It was on my birthday that I said that? Weird.

I actually don't remember THAT much about when I was a baby, myself and whether or not you were grouchy. I think y'all were actually young and umblemished when you had me so you were probably WAY less grouchy than most parents. But I know that *I* was sure a big old grouch when I had babies!

Barb said...

I loved this post- drugged writing and all. Since I am still in the thick of the baby-ness, some of it I really needed to hear! And you are a delightful patient/baby, so we all loved to take care of you. And your parents are beyond wonderful and OF COURSE they wanted to help you.

Chintan Brahmbhatt said...

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