The following post was written one year ago and was first posted here.
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. When Princess 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 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, 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 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.
Update 8/21/08: Pumpkin, the terrible twos have come and gone and were nothing even close to terrible. The way you approach life with such gusto and excitement is infectious. You are such a joy to have around. I love you,