17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Friday, August 24, 2007

No Returns, Refunds or Exchanges

This week we celebrated both of our daughters' birthdays. They were born 3 years and one day apart. As we partied as a family and then looked through baby pictures of each of them, it was nice to reminisce about their lives. And while their time here on earth has only been short so far, their presence has obviously had a big impact on our lives.

I have specifically spent a lot of time thinking about Pumpkin (now age 2). When Princess (age 5) was born, I loved her the moment I held her in my arms. We bonded immediately. I remember sitting in the rocking chair on countless occasions, just staring at that little baby body and feeling overwhelmed at the love I felt. With Pumpkin, this was totally not the case.

When Pumpkin was born and they put her in my arms I didn't feel anything (except for relief that she was out of my body). All I saw was a "cute" newborn baby (which dh describes as looking like a baby alien). Her red hair fuzz was curious and I remember how terrible she looked in the orange striped outfit I had brought to take her home in. I figured once we got settled in at home, the bonding would begin, but her routine of high decibel screaming for a large part of the day and pretty much all night didn't help make that happen. She never seemed happy. Add a case of jaundice which turned her skin orange and the whites of her eyes yellow and there was not much about this little baby to love. I know it sounds pretty shallow to connect love to how a baby looks or acts, but it's honestly how I felt at the time. I was grasping at straws. I remember feeling so desperate to find something, anything to love about this baby.

I remember rocking her screaming little body one night. My responsible parent side of the brain was having a hard time warding off the crazy, desperate, sleep-deprived person side of the brain. I could feel myself losing it. I wanted to give the baby back. I was actually trying to figure out a way to arrange it. And then I heard a little voice say "Mom, this isn't who I really am. I'm just stuck in this little baby body right now and I hate it. Don't worry, someday you're going to love me."

After that, there were still months of sleepless nights, breastfeeding trials, and earplugs to dampen the screams, but I just kept reminding myself of those words, "Mom, this isn't who I really am". We starting bonding in those moments when instead of harboring resentment during her long periods of screaming, I found understanding in the struggle she was going through being a newborn baby. We connected as I searched deep into her dark brown eyes hoping to catch a glimpse of the unique spirit I had brought into the world.

At about 8 months, I remember starting to see the glimmer of a child that I knew she was. She started sleeping, she didn't cry as much and she was actually pleasant to be around.

Now 2 years after her birth, we have finally met the real Pumpkin. And her real self couldn't be further from that inconsolable, orange, little alien baby. Most people who meet Pumpkin now describe her as having a huge personality stuffed into a tiny little body. I would have to agree. She is full of life and brings an unmatchable amount of joy and laughter to our entire home. Sometimes I feel like she's trying to make up for those first terrible months by making me smile 100 times for each time she made me break down into tears. This is who she really is and she was right, I do love her. In fact, I look at her now and am completely overwhelmed at the love that I feel for that little child. I guess we'll keep her.


  • Ahhhhhh, yes, little Pumpkin. I wasn't around to witness the first 6 months of hell but have been blessed to see the rest. Pumpkin is without a doubt one of my favorite people in the whole world. Her personality explodes out of her body - she is a riot.

    Great post and Happy Birthday to both girls!
    posted by Blogger chloe at 8/24/2007 09:30:00 AM  

  • I had a similar experience, but it was different in the fact that my second daughter was just so quiet.

    With #1 it was easy to bond (like you and Princess), but with #2, she just stared at everything. She never really babbled or spoke (little crying, too) and she'd just look at you with those piercing blue eyes. Years later (4 1/2!), I realize that she was soaking everything about the world into her little mind, and when she finally spoke (at 18 months), she was already quite the wit. But it was hard not to wonder if something was wrong with her --or if I wasn't being a good mom --when she was a baby. My social mind was expecting more verbal engagement with her, and when it didn't happen, I felt lost.

    Btw, Pumpkin is awesome! I wish she was closer so that she could put #3 in his place more often. :)
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 8/24/2007 09:59:00 AM  

  • This is beautiful. Not only did it make me tear up, but gave me a real confidence on a private matter. Thanks for your real(ness).
    And I would totally stare into Pumpkins eyes all day long...they are so big and dark an beautiful.
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 8/24/2007 11:42:00 AM  

  • oh carrie....so nice to hear the soft and fuzzy you.

    I thought my second was a personality-puncher, but she is NOTHING compared to the vibrantly, aptly red-headed PUmpkin...
    posted by Blogger Kage at 8/24/2007 11:48:00 AM  

  • This is a great story. It is so REAL. Sometimes I am amazed at little babies who actually come into this world all happy and smiles. It would be really hard to have a cranky, or colicky baby, but in some ways I don't blame them. It must be so strange and jarring once they arrive here. They've been all nice and warm and alone for so long, and then they're pushed into this crazy place with strange people. It's funny, I know a few little kids who were very colicky babies and they all have HUGE personalities... very outgoing, funny, original little kids. I think Pumpkin is adorable. We'll have to play with her some more soon.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 8/24/2007 02:01:00 PM  

  • Oh Carrie! It sounds exactly like my experience with Beanie- red hair and all. He cried for most of his first year, and it was sheer hell- I, too, kept waiting to feel that bond I felt with the first baby...

    I love what you heard from her that night. It makes me understand Beanie, too. He is exactly that way- and now, on the cusp of his fourth birthday, there is SO MUCH person packed into his small boy body- it just blows me away.

    Thanks for sharing this story. I loved it. Maybe we should introduce Beanie and Pumpkin in about 18 years..? Then we could sit back and laugh in anticipation of thier children!
    posted by Blogger tracy m at 8/25/2007 07:32:00 PM  

  • Amazing how these little ones come into life with such distinct personalities!
    posted by Blogger sunny at 8/26/2007 03:54:00 AM  

  • Wow. I wish I could know little Pumpkin! I'm so happy you have finally felt that bond...however long it took for her loveable side to come out.

    And by the way, I think God made babies cute just so we'd keep them, despite the agony they caused us. So you had it extra tough if she wasn't even that for a while!
    posted by Blogger Katie at 8/26/2007 02:04:00 PM  

  • Tracy M,

    From what I have heard about Beanie, they would make quite a pair!
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 8/28/2007 08:09:00 AM  

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