Thalia was born smiling and I have the pictures to prove it. Me: hospital gown, burst facial capillaries, teary eyes, matted hair. Thalia: smiling. And no, it was not gas. What more can you ask for in a child, once you get past the whole ten fingers – ten toes thing?
On the flip side, she’s never been a sleeper. I don’t know who wrote all those books that tell you that babies sleep around the clock for the first few weeks, but they’re full of it. It’s probably the same researcher who wrote that if you’re pregnant you should approach oral sex cautiously, or your husband might blow enough air into you to cause an embolism. Thalia never liked closing her eyes, not when she could be babbling or singing or smiling manically at the pillowcase in an attempt to make friends with it. When she did nap it had to be in the swing. When she did sleep it had to between us in bed. Fitfully, actively. She divided the night between punching Nate and kicking me. I have bruises to match my under eye bags.
Only in a social context have Thalia’s sleep issues been a good thing. It’s gotten me out of more than a few situations where the happy baby accolades are getting out of hand. Imagine a well-meaning friend, right in front of half dozen other babies and their doting mothers, exclaiming, “wow, that’s the happiest baby I’ve ever seen!” Next thing you know the there are six women glaring at me in almighty silence, then scrambling to make funny faces and poopy sounds in an all-out effort to demonstrate that their baby is happy too, damn it. Potential social crisis indeed. Potential social crisis averted, however, when I mention, “well, she’s not a sleeper.”
Oh my goodness, lord have mercy, the whole mood in the room changes. All the other moms smile at me like I’m giving away free money. Then they look at each other smugly and nod and wink and give the secret my-baby-sleeps handshake, and start relating stories about how little Olivia has been sleeping fourteen hours a night straight through since she was 3 weeks. And wakes up laughing every morning. With a clean diaper. That smells like gardenia.
But today, it all changed. After seven straight months of co-not-sleeping the unimaginable has happened: Thalia slept in her crib. All night long. No ferberizing, no force-feeding, no duct tape.
Please don’t hate me, other moms. I bet your kid has much better, um, hair.