The phantom baby

When I was pregnant with Zoe, I stared incessantly at pregnant women and moms on the street. It suddenly seemed they were everywhere. I hid behind my sunglasses and studied their every move. How did hugely pregnant women navigate in narrow store aisles? Did they ever knock anything over?

Mostly I was fascinated with moms. How did they do it? How did they carry their groceries while juggling a baby on their hip? How did they handle it when they were mid-bite at a restaurant and their baby started to fuss in the high chair? How would I do it, if I had a baby right now on MY hip, in MY lap, in MY backseat? Most importantly, how did the moms look? Happy? Stressed? Deeply content? Filled with regret about how their fun-filled weekends were now shot to hell in a pastel handbasket with leaky bottles stuck in the side pockets?

I find myself studying moms again, this time the ones who juggle more than one kid. I like to watch the happy ones the best, of course. Like the one who was crossing the street today with two sweet, sweet faced girls, holding their mom's hands and glowing in their crisp white linen dresses. It made me want another girl. Preferably birthed, nursed, weaned, cleaned and raised lovingly to age 6, please.

Then, last week, I spent a good five minutes watching a mom drag her prostrate tantruming toddler by his teddy bear backpack/leash while she tried to stick a pacifier in the wailing mouth of the baby Bjorned to her chest. It was, in a word, HORRIBLE. I wanted to reach out to her but I was stuck dumb in my seat, staring, furtively glancing at Zoe to make sure she was still obliviously playing with a train set. Several times since then, when Zoe's been falling apart at her seams and I am able to just scoop her up in my arms and move her, give all my attention and creativity to her, I imagine how I would handle it with a screaming baby attached to my chest with needs of his/her own. When I have just put Zoe down for her nap and am leaving her room, bound for a few hours of freedom, I imagine having a baby in the next room who needs a nursing/burping/diaper change/endless bouncing on that da#@ physio ball. I imagine having TWO crying needy faces in front of me, instead of the one I know and love (the one that is often MORE THAN ENOUGH to push me over the edge from time to time).

I sit here on my couch, listening to Zoe's sound machine whooshing through the monitor and I imagine having TWO monitors to listen to.

How does this work, anyway?

1 comment:

Astarte said...

It works out OK. The first few months were fine for me, because newborns barely need anything that can't be done while you're doing something else, like reading a book or playing a game, and they're happy to watch the older child, who is also happy to have a captive audience. It wasn't until Patrick was old enough to become an Attention Threat that Josie got a little jealous, and that was when he was maybe a couple of years old. She was almost four when he was born, though, so I imagine that had something to do with how much easier it was for me. I don't see how women who have babies closer together do it, I really don't. Swistle is the one you have to ask that one to!!!

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