Dear Children, You…

Dear Children,

You may get separate letters again someday, I hope you do, but right now mommy is tired. I know you've been hearing that a lot lately but that is because it is true. It is so very true. And my darlings I am afraid that the blame rests squarely on your teeny tiny shoulders. Mostly Anand's. I am told that this is not his fault because he is still very wee (just past three months on Christmas Day), but I am so tired that I no longer care whose fault it is I just want it to stop. And give me my commas back.

People keep asking me how I'm doing, especially this week as I see lots of old friends in concentrated doses. And I say terrible and they laugh uncomfortably and I say no really the last six months have been pretty much sheer hell and they say but at least your children are adorable and I admit that this is true but how is that relevant? Cute and hell are not measured on the same axis. My children, you are overflowing with cuteness, your adorability quotient is sky-high, especially when dressed in the little butterfly and alligator outfits that aunty and grandma got you for Christmas but that has absolutely nothing to do with the hellishness. Which also has nothing to do with your personalities, I must note, which are, as children's personalities go, pretty good. (Oh look, my commas have come back, how I love, them.) It is really all about the sleep, or lack, thereof. Comma, stop.

I know new parents are supposed to complain about lack of sleep and we are all supposed to nod and smile and change the subject because that is the social contract but this is truly maddening. I read an article although probably it was just a summary of an article now that I think about it because I can't remember the last time I had the time to just read an article for fun but anyway I read an article about how new parents and interns on call had similar sleep patterns -- being woken up at unpredictable intervals far too often and for far too long. The article said the human brain was not well suited to handle that kind of unpredictability and given that maybe we shouldn't be so quick to put patients' lives and fragile babies into the hands of those who are being slowly driven mad by the interrupted and inadequate sleep. Which all makes total sense to me but doesn't appear to be stopping this from happening.

And Anand, I have to pause and note here that this really is mostly your fault. Your sister still wakes up occasionally at night, especially when in a strange place, and certainly will argue ferociously that it is not sleepytime yet and she is not! tired! even when manifestly, both of those statements are untrue. But mostly, she sleeps for ten to eleven hours a night + three in the afternoon which is a miracle. Whereas you. I can't remember the last time I slept well, and admittedly, some of the lack of sleep was the housing craziness which I can't blame on you but much of it was the pregnancy and subsequent infancy which is entirely your doing. And yes you can come back and claim that your father and I did in fact knowingly make the decision to make you in full understanding of what it would entail but here is the thing -- once you are past this misery this torment this hell on earth, you forget.

You forget that your body wants to collapse, that your stomach wants to turn itself inside out, that you break into tears daily and sometimes only because the last piece of bread is moldy and you cannot handle any breakfast more complex than dry bread and you are so hungry that the dizziness threatens to knock you down. Which is partly also the breastfeeding so as you can see it is all your fault. And speaking of breastfeeding, why did you decide two weeks ago that your mother's breast was a torture device? Why did you scream as if Cerberus and his legions of hounds were at your heels every time your head came near my flesh? I suppose you did better than your sister who nursed perhaps three or four nights total; you managed two months or so. But what is with your sudden aversion to my breasts? I have been told back in the day that they were quite nice, but apparently, you do not agree. And so we are back to the double-time aggravation of exclusive pumping and I am going to try to last out to six months again but I go back to work full-time in two weeks so I may not make it, in which case you are just going to have to suck it up. Or not. Ha ha.

And dear Anand you are fretting right now, even though I JUST fed you and it is VERY late and you should be SLEEPING in your swing. I will ignore you long enough to finish this letter and say these are the things that are letting me (and you) survive these three long months:

  • the softness of your skin, which is like unto a drug -- maybe when we go home I will just turn the heat up to eighty damn the gas bill and carry you around naked
  • the smiles and yes little gurgly laughs that you give us when we smile at you or, sounding like idiots, actually say 'gah gah gah'
  • the adorable roundness of your face and the solidity of your body which nestles so perfectly against ours
  • the promise that this too shall pass
I think that's what gets me through it. Also, looking at Kavya, who is neglected and moody and loves her daddy a lot more than her mommy right now (because mommy is so distracted), which occasionally breaks her mommy's heart. But Kavi, you are so beautiful and so sweet and so funny with your little phrases and transparent ploys to turn bedtime into cake and chocolate: "I have an idea!" I love you, baby girl, and sometimes when I just can't take it anymore I pick you up and hug you despite your squirmy protests and while that doesn't make it all better the way my kisses magically fix your boo-boos, it makes it better enough. And reminds me that yes someday Anand will let us sleep again and then we will be glad we picked up this gauntlet and ran with it. Even if we lost our commas along the way.


10 thoughts on “Dear Children, You…”

  1. I hope I have the energy to write such beautiful, funny letters to my little one, who is only 26 days old. Patrick is an easy baby, but my husband went back on deployment over a week ago and now it’s just baby and me. Baby and me, 24/7. Good grief, I’m tired.

    Thanks for the smile, Mary Anne. I needed it.

  2. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    Congratulations, Kristina! And hang in there!!!

    Lori, the problem is that sometimes I am short of commas, and sometimes, I have, way too, many. It’s a dilemma.

  3. I remember when V. used to get up at 5am (in addition to 10pm, 11pm, 1am, 2am and 3am) and I would take her to the park as soon as it was light. All the parents there would just sit around not-quite-weeping and saying, “Does anything work? Anything?” It was the best thing about that park.

  4. Babies suck in so many ways. It’s a good thing they grow up, and that they have a few redeeming features before they do.

    I remember going to a baby health check somewhere between 6 and 12 weeks with my first. The woman sitting opposite me in the waiting room smiled at me and said “It gets better, and it keeps on getting better.” It was one of the kindest things anyone ever said to me.

    I hope Anand finds his sleeping mojo soon, and I sympathise with the feeding thing. My second was never very impressed with breast milk. At about 3 months he started screaming constantly and I surrendered and gave him supplementary formula. He looked at me with a look that said “Why have you been keeping this from me?”. I only lasted another month with breast feeding. He was much, much happier on formula. The other two loved breastmilk. Mysterious beasties they are.

    Which is all to say, I remember and I hope the rest of his first year goes as swiftly and smoothly as it can.

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