View from a Baby Room: Part Two
Here is the continuation of yesterday’s post, View From a Baby Room: Part One. You can get off the edges of your seats now.
First was a large, chubby baby with a giant bald head. We called him Fester, like Uncle Fester from the Addams Family. He didn’t seem to mind. His favorite mode of transportation was to roll. Often he rolled under cribs. Once he rolled under a swing and Sue kept bopping him on the head with the leg of the swing while adjusting it for another baby. We’re shouting at her to stop and she’s not hearing us and we’re all going how the crap do we write out that accident report? Baby hit with furniture repeatedly? Luckily Fester was okay seconds later. He was a happy baby.
Next up was Ralphie. We called him that because his mother dressed him in Ralph Lauren baby clothes every day. By the way, if you kept your kid in daycare, as I have, you have to know the daycare workers pay attention to this kind of crap. They’re stuck with your kid all day; they’re bored. I’m fairly certain Ralphie, who like the others would be about thirteen by now, is going to be a future politician. He could light up a room with a mega watt grin, so you’d forgive him, even if he just crawled over a line of babies, smacking them in the face with his hands and feet. Ralphie was an early crawler. They finally took him to the crawler room, which was where Thing One resided. As I found out later, Thing One was a piece of work as well. No telling what they called her. Perhaps she who would not hold her bottle, or she who army crawled.
And then there was . . . I forget if he was a Braden or a Braxton or a Britain, but he was definitely a brat. Though not as big a brat as his mother. She expected him to drink like three bottles while he was with us, even though he was only with us a few hours. He just wasn’t that hungry. But if the bottles weren’t given, she would get cheesed off. So we poured perfectly good formula down the drain everyday. Daycare workers do what they can to survive, parents. He ended up getting moved early too when he started to crawl. Later I heard that one of the workers in the crawler room, Barbara, was considering putting Ralphie and him in a single crib and letting them fight it out.
My favorite baby, yes we all had favorites, was Nicholas. He was a long, skinny baby that drove the others nuts because he had no sucking power whatsoever. That meant he could take an hour or more to drink a bottle. I loved it. I could sit and rock with him while he slowly sipped at his bottle. He was very cuddly. Later when my mom showed up, I introduced them. She said of course I liked him – he looked like my baby. Oh, huh. Go figure.
His mother breastfed, but the stuff she pumped and froze (frozen breast milk is the nastiest looking stuff on earth, I’m here to tell you) was so thin it went, literally, right through poor Nicky. We had to hear him cry from hunger. We couldn’t take it. So we spooned him tiny bits of cereal. Was it wrong? Sure. But I’d rather be fired than watch a baby go hungry. And he was hungry – nothing else was wrong with him, and he calmed down after being fed. We finally got the guts up to tell his mother. Unlike some of the others, she agreed to supplement with formula, and didn’t make a fuss. Thank goodness for reasonable mothers.
We had two baby girls. One was Gwen. Her Mommy was a breastfeeding school teacher who refused to pump, so Gwen had to wait until her lunch break (5 hours) to be fed. Fortunately, by the time I came, she could eat baby food. (Moms – please don’t do this to your kid. If you must be gone that long, leave her something else. A tiny drop of formula is better than a kid who starves an hour a day or more. Just an FYI.) When Mom finally arrived, she’d proceed to unbutton her shirt and let the girls out. I mean really let ‘em fly. It was like, wow, um, nice boobs? It’s hard to think of a conversation when you’re staring at someone’s exposed breasts. I’m not against breastfeeding here, but sheesh, a teensy bit of discretion? Trust me, you don’t want a bunch of daycare workers discussing your frequent wardrobe malfunctions when you leave.
Finally, and I’ve saved the best for last, was Australia. No, seriously, that was the baby’s name, and wow, did she deserve a long stupid name. I hate to say this, because one would think you couldn’t dislike a baby. But you did this one. I mean I tried to love her; I really did. But she made it difficult. It wasn’t really her fault. She had a mother and an aunt who both worked at the daycare. And lived with her along with the baby daddy and the grandparents. And they both checked on her constantly, leaving their own kids abandoned while they did so. At home, Australia was always held. When you’ve got ten babies, you cannot hold every one of them 24/7 (though I did try to hold each one as much as possible.) She wanted attention, all the attention, 100 percent of the time and if she didn’t get it? Watch out.
Here’s an example. We fed each baby one at a time. If a baby could hold a bottle, we let him. I didn’t like it, but we had too many babies to cope with at one time so we did the best we could. They tried to do that with my Thing One in the crawler room, but she refused. I love my Thing One. Anyway, we tried to feed Australia first, because she was the loudest. But she’d fuss and push the bottle away. So we’d move on to the next baby. And she would scream. And scream. And get louder. And louder. Her tiny face would get as red as her hair. When we got back around to her, fed her, and put her in bed, she’d shoot us this look. Mary once said, “I swear she just looked at me like ‘You bitch!’”
It was Australia and her family that helped spell my doom. Her dear auntie came to get her one afternoon after I’d had a heck of a day. She picked up Australia, who had been napping. The baby had a wet diaper. Auntie was furious.
“How dare you let her lay in a wet diaper, Alice,” she fumed. “Take care of your babies.”
Okay, see, there’s some things you don’t say to me. One of these is “you aren’t a good mommy / caretaker.” I will cut you for it. So I informed her that yes she was wet because she was sleeping and no way in hell was anyone going to wake that baby up from a nap. She sniffed and left. I was still fuming. A few other workers stopped by and I unloaded. Maximum fire power. I still remember the looks of horror on their faces. It was awesome.
Still, I think back to that place and wonder where everyone has gone. One of the worst things was to sit and look out the window at the one-year-olds. They wandered about, totally unattended, while the workers sunned themselves on the slide. We complained about it, so the workers were fired. Haha, just kidding. They were moved to another room. Brilliant.
This is not to make people with kids in daycare feel bad. I later put my daughter in another daycare – after I grilled the director over the coals. I did my homework that time, and you can bet I made sure she was well taken care of. Still, I can’t say I was that sad to be fired from my job five months later. It is hard, very hard, to leave your baby behind. I know. I’ve had a view from both sides of the baby room.
Biological Clocks, and Other Betrayals of Mother Nature
From the time I was a little kid, I loved babies. I thought my mother was terrible for not providing me with a younger sibling, thus granting me that oh-so-favored place as middle child. Of course, as the baby of the family, I didn’t understand that babies weren’t just cute: they were loud, and smelly, and a big pain in the butt. Nope I only saw this:
As I got older, I continued to adore babies. My mother once pointed out that I’d better look at the boys first. Good point. Then again, I liken that to the way many girls think of weddings. The groom is generally the last piece of the puzzle, long after picking out your dress, the location, the flowers, your colors, etc. Notice there is a Dream Wedding Barbie, but no Dream Wedding Ken. That’s because guys don’t dream of weddings, they dream of trucks.
Anyway, by the time I had gotten out of my teens, I had developed full blown Early Onset Biological Clock Syndrome or its acronym STUPID. When I met my future husband I scrutinized him carefully. He was kind, patient, reliable, held an actual job, and children were attracted to him like he was the freaking Pied Piper. Perfect father material! Oh, and, yeah, I loved him and all, but a large part of me was thinking this:
STUPID is insidious, and is not termed “biological clock” for nothing. It feels like a constant ringing inside your head. You can be the most competent, intelligent woman around, but once STUPID hits, this is all you think about:
People will try to warn you. They’ll say sensible crap like “Babies are a lot of work” and “Babies are expensive and you’re freaking broke” and “Maybe you should wait until your marriage and / or career is more stable” and “You realize you can’t ever take them back.” All good advice. But you hear:
My husband and I could not agree on when to have a baby. I wanted one on the honeymoon. Him not so much. He was a good provider of the sensible advice. So I asked when he’d be ready, because I’m a planner. His answer, “I dunno.” This did not impress me. So I went along, irritated, and continued on with my job as a teaching assistant while working on my graduate degree. I actually started school because they offered me a job. Not only was the pay outstanding (right), it caused schizophrenia because you got to be both teacher and student, but not enough of both. So naturally it was right in the middle of a college semester when we had an Oops. Finally! I had gotten just what I wanted! But as soon as that stick turned pink, I thought:
CRAPPPPP what have I done??? We have no money. We’ve only been married 9 months, so we hardly even know each other. And most importantly: We cannot keep a plant alive. We are so in trouble.
My husband, the one who wasn’t so into it, took it in stride. Hey, a baby, cool okay. Just – what??? He is so laid back about most things, I’m amazed he is ever actually upright. Then came the joy of morning sickness, which doesn’t just occur in the morning, sorry. And hormones playing ping pong with my depression and anxiety, so that I was freaking out almost every day. I went to the classes I taught, handed out assignments, and took mini naps on my desk, trying not to puke. For four months, my constant companion was “Mr. Bowl”, which I took with me everywhere in case I had to vomit. Yay, pregnancy is so much fun! But that’s okay, because at the end you get . . .
Once the morning sickness abated, things weren’t too bad. Until we took that Lamaze class and they showed how your cervix will widen to ten centimeters. They had a handy chart. Every woman in the room gasped. I’m pretty sure almost all of us wanted off the ride at that point.
But in the end, I did get my baby, and she was beautiful and perfect and even came three weeks early. My mother said “See, I told you that you couldn’t wait 9 months to have a baby.” She slept most of the first month, and I delighted in dressing her up in all her cute baby clothes while she snoozed, oblivious. My friend and I took her along with us everywhere. She was the best doll ev-er. And then she woke up.
The first year was kind of like this:
So naturally, after we survived that, I started thinking, hey, it’d be kinda cool to have another one, you know, like matching luggage that poops. So four years and a mixup with the birth control later, we got our second baby. And immediately after, I had my tubes tied.
Now I can safely say that I no longer like babies. I mean, sure, I’ll coo at a cute baby, maybe even hold it a few minutes, but then I’m done. Done. Because I know what lies beneath the cuteness. Mother Nature is done with me, and so gave me relief from the STUPID. I realize she has to do this to us, so that we can continue to overpopulate the planet and whatnot. But dang, you do not want to mess with her. She’s ruthless. Just like this: