On “The Better” baby

It’s no secret our first go around with babies was traumatic and painful. The first year dragged on. It most certainly did not go by as fast as other moms said it did, and I was aching for it to speed up. 

Time with my second is flying by. He’s almost 3 months. Which means in 3 months he’ll be eating solids. What!? I now get the phrase “where did my baby go?” 

And I get asked all the time out of genuine love, concern and curiosity, “do you find he’s a better baby?” To which my answer is always the same; he’s easier and I’m not depressed.”

It was really easy to define A by his lack of sleep. We were consumed with it. We had a hard time seeing anything else. People would ask us about him and all we could muster up was “he’s good, he doesn’t sleep…” as if it defined who he was and is. It doesn’t. 

No one is the sum of their struggles. 

But you have to understand something. There was more at play. I was depressed. I didn’t struggle with it, I had it. I had anxiety. I didn’t have bouts of anxiety, I simply was anxious. You add that on to this overly alert kid with poop issues and reflux, tack on a high need to be held at all times and you get our year and a half of hell. 

I believe depression and anxiety are like a tornado, sweeping up those that life with them into it’s storm.  Those swept in never become the storm, but are simply tangled up in it with no possibility of figuring a way out because they’ve never been a tornado before and they likely never will be. 

What that means to me is, my depression and anxiety swept my baby up into my storm. He was caught in my emotions with no way to be free of it. Our kids kids feel what we feel, which makes sense because typically we all carry a cloud of emotions with us. You can tell when someone is angry or happy or sad even if they aren’t slamming cupboards, jumping for joy or crying. Many of us wear our emotions and sweep each other into them, good or bad. 

And what that meant for my sweet boy was he felt my pain, all of it. 

I think that’s why he’s so empathetic. Why he’ll stop mid play and come put his hand on my cheek to say “I love you” while looking straight into my heart and then walking back to his game. 

But it’s also why he was so hard. Because he had all these issues and a mom who couldn’t cope. Any kind of fussing in him would cause an immense amount of anxiety the older he got, and the worse I got. I literally had no skills for dealing with any of his emotions, and I’m grateful that God gave us breastfeeding because it gave us both calm. It wasn’t always the right answer, but it was all I had. He would sleep latched on for hours, needing to be patted on the back at the same time. I didn’t have the mental capacity to learn him and I look back and think “get up and burp him!” 

N is not a better baby. Both my kids are amazing. But I am now a better mom. And not in doing sense; in the being sense. I simply exist better than I did before. 

I fought depression again when N was born. It knocked on my door every day for 8 weeks. I have PTSD and I still can’t attempt to settle N when he’s crying in the car due to painful flashbacks of our dreaded trips with Asher. I have to either pull over or drive with the music turned up. I could feel every time that I was immediately yanked back into anxiety in the car. Panic stricken over his tears that it physically hurt. I yelled at my husband in tears to pull over and unbuckled myself, running to his side to make sure he hadn’t choked to death on his tears. 

But I’m getting better. In fact I’m doing amazing. Because I’m fighting. 

I’m laying in bed as I write this and my baby is sleeping in his crib for the first time. He woke up and I didn’t nurse him back to sleep. I put him down when I went to sleep. None of these things were possible with A. Partly because of him, and partly because of me. 

Was A a ‘bad baby’? Not a chance. There are no good and bad babies. Some are harder for sure, but they deserve to be defined by so much more than their sleep. 

A was contemplative. Constantly staring into everyones soul. Absorbing everything. My little talker and feeler. 

N is my little goofball. Just as aware, but chatty and smiley. 

And I am not tormented anymore. 

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