Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Happiest Baby on the Block

So my sister is visiting from Ireland with her beautiful baby, Homer.

Homer is just over three months old now, and this is the first I’ve seen him in the flesh, since his mother and father insist on living a full continent and ocean away from me. (Sorry, but iChat just doesn’t cut it when it comes to scrumptious babies…at least until the fine people at Mac come up with a scratch and sniff version, so I can breath in that patented fresh baby smell.)

Isn’t he perfect? How about a collective 'awwww'?

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But I know what you're all thinking: Sure, he’s cute alright, but we’re onto these baby-creatures. They lure us in with their little flailing fists and long eyelashes and the softest napes of necks we’ve ever felt, and then they turn on us, right around 11 pm when our own eyelids are starting to droop, to wail through the night, every night.

Or wait…is that just my babies?

See, Homer is a Happiest Baby on the Block. Did you all know about this? I didn’t! What rock have I been under?! *wails a bit myself*

The Happiest Baby on the Block rigorously follows the five S’s (and take notes, all ye with infants…they do seem to work):

Swaddling
Side/stomach position
Shushing Sounds
Swinging
Sucking


It seems simple, right? None of these suggestions are new concepts. But the trick is, you have to do all of them…and pretty much all at once, from the looks of it. I never could get a handle on swaddling, my kids flopped freakishly onto their tummies at first opportunity, and no amount of swinging soothed them. I definitely subscribed to the sucking and shushing methods, usually hissing in their sweet little ears while groping blindly into the crack between the wall and the crib mattress for the single pacifier remaining (and how that was mathematically possible when I’d bought the mega pack of 4,000 just the day before, I'll never know).

Back in these dark days, I pretty much had two polar opposite methods to choose from: attachment-parenting (I adore Dr. Sears, and his Nighttime Parenting was well-thumbed in our house, but in the end, I was just a tad too selfish to surrender completely to the baby-wearing/feeding/co-sleeping lifestyle) and the lovely ‘cry-it-out method’ (hell, I’ll try anything once, but anyone who thinks I’m going to ‘Ferberize’ my baby must be out of their mind).

So as you can see, when my kids were babies, I was left to make up my own five S’s. They went something like this:

Swearing (actually, it did usually start out as shushing, if that counts for anything)
Smacking (the head/shoulder/arm/whatever body part was in reach of the child in question’s father whenever I’d hear that cry the very second I finally lay my own wee head down to sleep)
Sobbing (me, the baby, the husband, whatever well-intentioned person tried to help that day)
Shouting (at myself, the baby, the husband, whatever well-intentioned person tried to help that day)
Self-medicating (I believe this is self-explanatory)

Dr. Ferber doesn’t sound quite so bad now, does he? But in my defense, all my children did learn to sleep through the night...eventually. I just did it as God intended--with blood, sweat, and tears. Sometimes literally. Sometimes all in conjunction. What do you think? Could I patent this method? Present it on Oprah? The Most Miserable Mother on the Block: How to Survive the First Year Without the Five S's of Silence, Sleep, Sex, Sanity, and a Nicely Aged Syrah. I'm going to make millions.

On second thought, let’s just look at beautiful baby Homer again, the one with the happiest mother, and thank the heavens above he’s not ours, shall we? (Or probably more aptly, at least agree to be thankful he’s not mine).

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