Discovering six weeks of baby

So Husband and I took Collin to see his doctor today, and let me just say right here, loud and proud, that everything is FINE. Our baby was given a clean bill of health, and we were told to stay off the Internet.

No guarantees, doc, but we’ll try to keep our freak-outs to a minimum next time. In our defense, this is our first time panicking at the pediatrician’s over something normal, which I think is pretty good for first-time parents.

In other news, Collin will be six weeks old tomorrow, which means I will have reached the point where my nether regions are supposed to have shriveled back to a near-normal size, and I can begin an exercise regimen. I like to think of the baby weight that I’ve gained as a badge of honor, like coming home dirty and wounded from war. It proves I gave it my all.

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Discovering a parent’s worst nightmare.

When I decided to become a parent and start trying for a baby, there were a lot of things going through my mind. Sure, there were risks involved, especially considering I have epilepsy and I take medications. But the research we did and consultations with my doctor assured me the risks were minimal, and the odds were that I would have a healthy child. Besides, I told myself, if my child had some kind of disability, so what? Both my husband and I made our careers working with people with disabilities. We were comfortable with it.

But then, yesterday, I noticed a strange ridge on the side of Collin’s head. I pointed it out to my husband, who shrugged it off as normal and suggested I do the same. But today, it was bigger, taking up more of him, like he was somehow wearing a headband beneath his scalp.

What is that thing?

So we did some research, which any new parent can probably attest to be the worst possible thing you can do when you’re wondering if something is wrong with your child, because you WILL uncover the most rare, but catastrophic thing that could happen to a baby. In our case, it was craniosyntosis, a disorder in which the skull stops growing, therefore, the brain stops developing. Its symptoms include ridges in the skull, and very small or lack of fontanels (soft spots). Reading that hit me like a ton of bricks, and brought me right back to a moment at my new parent’s group. I was sitting next to a fellow new mama, and we held our sons in our laps, admiring them and exchanging comments. She mentioned how weird it was to see her baby’s brain pulsing through his soft spot. I looked on in amazement.

“Wow!” I said, “Look at that! Collin’s head doesn’t do that. His soft spots have already closed up.”

She looked at me strangely, and said, “What do you mean his soft spots have closed up? They’re supposed to have them for a long time.”

I looked down at my baby, and wondered. I never stopped wondering about his soft spots, and now those anxious little buzzing alarm clock thoughts have turned into a blaring fire alarm, complete with flashing lights and an earthquake. Suddenly, I am asking the question every parent dreads: Is there something wrong with my baby? Something seriously wrong? Something a good nap and a dose of baby tylenol can’t fix?

Maybe. Maybe not. For a while, I went from confidence that everything would be OK to shattering devastation that left me sobbing and shaking. Now, a margarita later, I am calm. Well, calmer. Husband found a small soft spot on his head that I’d missed, which made me feel a little better. Now, all we have left to do is wait for the doctor to call us back. In the meantime, I’m left feeling incredibly humbled, and thinking about the parents of every child with a disability that I have ever worked with. The moment they asked themselves, is there something wrong with my baby? I never, ever thought that was a question I would seriously ask, but here I am, asking away, sitting in nail-biting anticipation for Monday when I can hopefully take my child to the doctor. Being a parent, I’m discovering, can sometimes be pretty terrifying.

Discovering (lack of) sleep, and (lack of) readiness.

When I finally crawl into bed at night, I hear the “Ding ding!” of bells at a boxing ring. The fight is on. My darling son and I will battle for sleep all night long. Collin is insistent on being attached to my chest, whether to nurse (in his sleep, mind you) or to use it as a pillow. He puts the phrase “sleep like a baby” to the test, and will systematically wake me every couple of hours to nurse without opening an eye, himself. We received a beautiful co-sleeper from my parents as a gift, a little baby bed that attaches to our bed, but found that everybody slept better if the baby was in bed with us. The only problem is, our little angel turns into a farting, snoring, pee-soaked bed hog who somehow becomes as hot as molten lava and kicks me to death every time I get comfortable.

I knew something had to give. I longed for him to sleep in his co-sleeper, but to my amazement, every time I tried to put him in it, it was me who had a problem with it. Suddenly, the bed became a vast, lonely, babyless oasis, and I nearly jumped out of my skin every time Collin so much as peeped. The subject of bed-sharing came up in my new parents’ group, and another mother shared a story identical to mine. I told her what happened to me every time I attempted the co-sleeper.

“Sounds like you’re not ready,” she said.

Hmm.

So, I put some thought into that. She was right, Collin wasn’t the only one who needed to be “ready” for the co-sleeper. I never thought that becoming a mother would overwhelm me so completely, taking hostage everything that used to be normal and comfortable. We’re still working on the co-sleeper. Now, the baby will start the night asleep by himself, but always end it right back in our bed, attached to me. I guess I’ll take that, for now.