Pffffffth—I blew a raspberry on Edie’s bare belly. Pffffth—one on her cheek—pffffth—another on her belly—pffffth—again on her stomach.
After a few rounds, her smiles turned into the most sustained giggles she’s had so far. They made me laugh all the harder.
A few hours later, Edie was nursing when a school bus rumbled by the open window. The heavy chains that hang behind the tires crashed together as the bus turned the corner. Edie popped off and looked straight at me. Her eyes were big and round and searched mine. Her surprise was so complete that I couldn’t help but laugh again.
It had been a wonderful day. But Edie was so busy living every moment with abandon that she couldn’t be bothered with napping.
I knew it was coming. Later that night, she dissolved into meltdown mode. She cried but wouldn’t eat or sleep or play. I set her down on the bed to change my pants and the 45 seconds or so I wasn’t holding her sent her over the edge. She cried so hard that she was choking, and tears spilled out of her eyes.
I buckled Edith into her front carrier and got outside as quickly as I could. Within a few minutes, the bouncing rhythm of my step soothed her to sleep.
I, on the other hand, didn’t calm down as quickly. As I charged up the hill near our apartment, I stayed frustrated. I hadn’t been able to put Edie down for hours and my back hurt. I was mad at Eric for having to work later than expected. I felt terrible for slamming the door behind me when I stepped outside: The noise had scared poor Finn and I heard him barking when I walked down the steps.
I neared the top of the hill. The western sky was pink, and trees and rooftops stood out in black relief against the sunset. I remembered Edith’s giggles and the tiny “o” of her mouth when she was startled out of her nursing reverie.
The extremes of the day—first delight and hilarity, then frustration and hysterics—were as stark a contrast as the rosy sunset and shadowed skyline.
Most days with an infant are like this. Edith’s temperament changes from cheerful and gurgling to wailing in an instant, and she swings back and forth even more often than I change diapers.
The challenge for me, then, is riding the ebb and flow of her moods. It’s easy to get worked up when she’s screaming and nothing seems to calm her. But I want to be the kind of mother who stays flexible to meet the needs of a mercurial baby.
I was halfway there. When the usual rocking, shushing, bouncing, nursing and pacing didn’t calm Edith, I laced up my shoes and took her for a walk. And it worked. But I’d also acted in anger when I slammed the door.
Days with a baby are seldom equable. But maybe the raw-throated screaming makes me appreciate the giggles even more. Or maybe not. I’d probably love Edith’s laughs just as much if she were always calm. But she’s not. She’s a back and forth baby, and that’s ok. She’s my baby and I love all of her.