Friday, September 07, 2007

Making Friends bis

The hospital where I gave birth holds bimonthly postnatal meetings for mothers and their babies. I've gone twice so far, and probably nothing else I've done in the last two months has been more helpful for my sanity.

Like most modern moms I have a shelf of books on parenting. I've decided that within their pages I could find support for just about any parenting decision, from feeding one-hundred-percent vegan organic fair-trade baby food to parking the child in front of the television to watch marathon CSI reruns. The books are helpful, yes, especially when I'm trying to decode le Petit's sleep cycles or figure out how to cut his fingernails, but mostly they stress and annoy me.

The problem is, I expect them to work like an owner's manual, but not a single one explains the model I came home from the hospital with:

Baby boy, 3,840 kilograms, 51,5 centimeters, won't sleep anywhere but next to parents, loves to be stretched out belly down on Dad's forearm, doesn't accept a pacifier, has sixth sense which allows him to wake up within fifteen minutes when placed asleep in crib.

Our friends and family are little help. According to our parents, we were both "easy" children when we were under two. (I suspect they've thrown a rosy veil of amnesia over what happened over thirty years ago. It's a shame for them, as they've missed an opportunity for us to finally be justly grateful.) Few of our friends have had children with similar characteristics, yet they all have advice: "You're spoiling him, he'll pick up bad habits, you should just keep trying a pacifier/put flour in his milk so he sleeps longer/buy a magic mobile that makes ocean sounds/etc."

(To be fair, I have one dear friend from college, like a sister to me, who has offered me tons of good advice for which I'll be eternally grateful. But, alas, she's in Delaware and I'm six time zones away in Paris, and I don't want to bother her constantly as she's busy chasing after a toddler.)

Just when I think we have the most bizarre, incomprehensible baby on the planet, I go to one of these meetings and a find... miracle! Other mothers with the same problems! There's the two-week-old that wants to nurse constantly, the three-month-old that only recently started sleeping in her own bed, the four-month-old that refuses to take naps. Oh yes, one mother confided, she and her husband had eaten many meals with their child in the Baby Bjorn, and they'd learned to put a napkin over her head to avoid sprinkling her with crumbs.

At the end of the meeting, I suggested we all exchange email addresses and phone numbers so we could perhaps meet up and go walking together. To my surprise, all the other mothers were enthusiastic. It seemed that we were all going stir crazy at home, desperate for outside contact. Most of all, we all wanted to talk to others who were with us in the trenches.

Next week I'll send out my first e-mail to everyone and try to organize something. I can't wait!

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