Tuesday, September 13, 2011

the noah chronicles. 2

I have often wondered what things would have been like if Noah weren't the firstborn. If Aleni or some other baby had come first. A baby that slept easily, laughed constantly and eagerly interacted with new people. A baby that trusted and enjoyed life. Spontaneity.

As it was, my gift was Noah. And along with that gift came a long string of reproachful glances, mothers who knew better, and an overall dissaproval of how I was doing things.

Before Noah, I had thought that babies were born into families as blank slates--and they became whatever their parents molded them into be. I hadn't known that kids are who they are from the minute they emerge into the world. That for all the correct molding, parenting in the world--some kids just won't be the kind that are happy, gentle and well-behaved. At least not without a fight.

Going anywhere with Noah became a terrifying prospect to me. Noah was happier when he was barefoot, and living in the furnace we were living, that was easy to oblige. But, I'd arrive to church with a wailing babe in my arms--and a big-bosomed woman would click her tongue and say, "Poor thing! Put socks on him! He is freezing!" Heart pounding, I'd pull socks on him and continue my way to my seat. Minutes later, a different mother of mothers would come by my still-wailing infant and say, "Oh, poor baby. Can't you see he's hot? He'll be so much more comfortable without his socks!"

I'd go to visit the neighbor and we'd chat over Noah's sounds of anguish. She'd shake her head and ask me how much I was socializing him. "This is because you don't take him out enough" she'd say.

I was nursing him, and people would say that sugar water was better, he obviously was still hungry.

We'd go hang out at Rey's family's place on the weekends, and I'd hear whispering about how Noah was crying alot. And why wouldn't Liz just leave him here?

Combining the culture's habit of being very open with criticism with my sensitivity to criticism and with this being my first go at mothering... it was a pretty awful concoction. Through in there a heaping dose of sleep-deprivation and what was pretty much total isolation 5 days a week--I really question at times how I kept my head above water.

And that's what it was, really. Just paddling along in this ocean of unknowns, crushed dreams, criticism, and dissapointment. Keep breathing, keep moving. It's gotta get better one of these days. It's gotta. I really just felt numb for the longest time. Just surviving and pasting on a wobbly smile. Trying to care if someone snagged a nail, while I felt like I was in a pit with and couldn't see a ladder to pull us out.

I remember at 6 months, it felt like Noah turned a corner. At that time, he refused to nurse and he began drinking formula. He still didn't enjoy being in social contexts, but at least he wasn't wailing every waking minute. He began to appreciate little jokes and have actual times he was happy. He especially appreciated physical humor such as "peek-a-boo" or "gotcha!". I remember around this time thinking, "Ok! Maybe this could be fun..."

He also was happier the more mobile he became. I remember just looking at him in his earlier months and saying that he looked like an older baby trapped in an uncooperative body. He just seemed desperate to move. He fell in love with his baby walker and would scoot around in that.

When winter came around, I swapped out the cotton sheets he had in his crib for flannel sheets. He refused to sleep on them. Once I switched the sheets back to cotton, he fell right asleep.

He had a funny habit. Our front door stepped right out into a sunny patio. E.v.e.r.y. single time we stepped out the door into the sunlight with Noah, he would sneeze. It made us laugh that we could see, "And 1,2,3--" and on 3 he'd sneeze. Every time.

From the beginning, making any kinds of plans that involved leaving the house was hard with Noah. Really, trying to figure out "what worked" with him and what didn't was a frustration--because one day he'd love something and the next day it would send him into a frenzy.

He continued to be an extremely observant boy. For example, if I'd lay him down for a nap and then perhaps change the placement of some pictures on the livingroom wall--he'd zone in on that the moment I'd bring him back into that room. The keen attention to detail also made it difficult to do things outside of the house. It made it so I couldn't lay him down in someone else's crib, or that it wouldn't work for someone else to hold him even if they held him while facing him away from them so he wouldn't see them. He'd know and he wouldn't tolerate it.

My days of playing the violin at home halted with Noah's arrival too. He'd scream piercingly until I'd put the instrument away.

When Noah was 8 months old, we took him on the super long trip back to visit my family in central Illinois. Thankfully, by this time he was able to tolerate being in a car, but he still had issues with being strapped in a carseat. And he also virtually never would fall asleep in the car. So, it was an extremely long trip.

A month later, we drove back to Mexico and set up our home 9 hours away from where we had been. The cramped little house we'd been in was now replaced by a spacious 4 bedroom apartment with plenty of space for Noah to zip around in his walker. He loved this.

We actually really enjoyed those months at our new place. We now had English-speaking relatives living nearby us (he always seemed to feel more comfortable in an English-speaking environment) who doted on him. There was a park nearby where we would walk most afternoons. And, oh! The climate. Dry. Cool. Noah always would sweat prolifically where we lived before, so I think just being comfortable and sans mosquito bites did a lot for his disposition.

Oh, granted. He still had "his days", as we'd come to call them. It seemed if he woke up in a certain mood, that's how it was going to be for the rest of the day. He still didn't like to be poked, prodded or carried around by people he didn't know. He still liked to do things at his own pace and his own process.

The day we celebrated Noah's first birthday, we found out that Aleni was on the way!

Noah didn't get his walk on until about 15 months. And about a month after that is when the tantrums really got into full swing.

His happiest way to be...

He loves to make people laugh

Excited to be going out with daddy... and, yeah. This picture was just
because the hat stayed on for about a whole minute.

"What?! You don't take reading material along with you on
your daily stroll to the park? Lowly mortals..."

Hammin' it up.
Bathtime still a favorite.

...Along with reading with daddy.

Part 3 here:

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