I do not like babies. Or so I thought for many years. When I was pregnant with Vman I couldn’t wait to hold him in my arms, snuggle him up and just love him. He, however, had different ideas.
Even just days old, Vman made his presence unavoidably known. By the fourth day in the hospital, my husband and I actually recognized his scream from other babies as they returned him to our room (again) because they couldn’t get him to calm down. They thought he could be hungry. I thought – you’ve got to be kidding me! We were already supplementing him with bottles because nothing else would soothe him.
Quickly, a pacifier was surgically attached to his mouth. And the amazing thing was, he could both suck on the pacifier and scream his head off at the same time. This was one talented kid.
The blood curdling screaming continued at home. My husband became a master at bundling him and was the only one who could do it tight enough to make a difference. Instinct took over ,and I naturally turned off the TV. The lights went dim. Shades were drawn. The radio went silent. But Vman did not.
Anyone who has dealt with a screaming infant knows that it’s tough to deal with it for a half an hour. Now turn that into hours. Sound familiar to any SPD parents out there? Thought so.
I remember thinking I knew being a new parent would be tough but this was ridiculous. He screamed if I held him. He screamed if I didn’t. He screamed if I sang to him or rocked him, and he screamed if I didn’t. He never napped during the day but sometimes would pass out in my arms for 20 minutes. And for those 20 minutes I didn’t dare move, sneeze or even breathe out of sheer fear that he would wake up.
Out of desperation I would go on endless walks. And when the winter hit and I couldn’t use the stroller anymore, I packed him up in the baby Bjorn, wrapped my coat around the two of us and walked the city streets for relief.
Where were those precious moments of rocking my baby in the middle of the night and relishing in his newborn smell? Where were the joyful afternoons of counting his itty bitty toes? Where were the warm fuzzies I was supposed to give and receive from this bundle of love?
I was a mother now, dammit! And as much as I loved my baby, I didn’t like him very much. He didn’t give us much to work with. So I chalked it up to the fact that maybe I just wasn’t a baby person.
Looking back, I knew. In the deep pit of my stomach I knew this wasn’t the way things were supposed to be. But as a new mother, I didn’t know any different. For a long while I blamed myself for being such a terrible mother that I couldn’t even soothe my own child. Then, as he got older, I blamed myself for not listening to that natural instinct that told me something was wrong.
The pediatricians kept telling me he was fine. He happened to be a child on the extreme end of colicky. Part of me wants to go kick those pediatricians in the ass. And the other recognizes the medical community is still figuring out SPD. So I can’t blame them — but I sure as hell can educate them.
So I think back to that scared woman who is wondering what is wrong with her. The whole world is in love with babies, and she thinks the whole world must be smoking crack. How could anyone love this? Well, it turns out that I love my son deeply. Sensory processing disorder, on the other hand, can go to hell.
SPD robbed me of so much enjoyment. Of enjoying being a new mom, of enjoying those priceless moments with my newborn. But even in the grips of terror of this tiny being, I still managed to take in some of the good. Even as I walked the city streets in fear that the ongoing screaming would never end (and it didn’t until he was well past 1yo), I still managed to find good when things felt bleak. I could put the most ridiculous hat on Vman and laugh that even though I may not be a baby person, I sure had one adorable baby.