“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”Gilda Radner

Friday, December 9, 2011

My Baby Einstein

As I sat in what I'd hoped was my final urologist appointment waiting for the nurse practitioner to come in and tell me that no, my kidney stones aren't actually ALL gone, the song that came on softly in the background was Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring.

I was instantly brought to the morning of my wedding, standing behind the closed doors of the church with my father while guests were settling in.  Three of my oldest friends passed through the vestibule--Alice, Chris, and Kelly--and I looked at my dad and said, "I think I might cry," and he said, "You're not going to cry.  Why would you cry?  You've got everything you ever wanted right here," and so I cried.

But as my heart constricted over this memory, the more startling realization was that I was almost positive it was Baby Einstein xylophone version of Jesu....  Why would the urologist choose that version, of all the versions?

From the time Joey was about two weeks old until he was just past three months, he was extremely colicky.  He also had pretty bad reflux, and still does even now at age six (nothing gets him like strawberries on a hot summer day).  He cried when he was hungry, he cried when he was finished eating, he cried when he was lying down, and he cried hardest of all when he burped.  His burps sounded like a knife cutting through a brick, if that's even possible.  It was awful, and you can imagine then that when I discovered that Baby Einstein made him stop crying, it became a survival need on level with water and Purell in our house.

Sitting in the urologist's office my thoughts jumped from the day of my wedding to a day in the family room of our first house, with its bright yellow walls and dark leather furniture, the sun streaming through the sliding glass doors and me, sitting there wishing we had air conditioning in the heat of the hot, hot Buffalo summer.  Baby Einstein was playing on repeat from the corner of the room, and Joey was in my arms staring into my eyes.

He was a big-time starer.  His eyes always gave him the look of what most people would call "an old soul," although I just always thought of it more as proof that babies are people who think for themselves.  Joey was actually born with a furrowed brow and frowned pretty much until he could sit upright on his own.  I guess if I spit up everything I ate all the time, I'd frown a lot, too.

Mostly in those early months, I felt like a big fat fraud.  I felt like the nurses and the doctors handed me this baby believing I was a mother and I would naturally know what to do, and I absolutely did NOT know what to do.  I lived in fear of doing something terrible to him.  Not like crazy, psycho, abusive mothers do, but like, contracting a deadly virus on my pinky finger and inadvertantly transferring it to Joey via his binky or his bottle.  And when they interviewed me for the six o'clock news they'd say, "How could you possibly not KNOW that viruses are FESTERING on your pinky finger??"

But when Baby Einstein played, Joey wiggled until he was comfy in my arms, and he'd look up into my face with an expression that clearly said, "I think you're pretty great."  His round golden cheeks were so chubby and soft, and the top of his head was warm and fuzzy.  He never had that baby smell you hear women gush on about; he always smelled like spit up, but he was wonderful.

I almost started to cry in the urologist's office when I heard the Baby Einstein song and realized that six and half years have passed since I sat in my cheery yellow family room with my tiny new baby, that now he's such a big boy.  You should see how long his arms and legs are; I can't hold him comfortably on my lap anymore (that could also be because he's totally offended by me wanting to hold him).  He can read and write and dance and loves the song "Moves Like Jagger"(he says it, "Moves Like Jagga") instead of anything Baby Einstein.

This whole experience made me grumpy.  Joey's not a baby anymore, and I'm old, and I STILL have kidney stones.  I think the urologists should change their playlist to something more upbeat.  Something more like "Moves Like Jagger."

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