The euphoria is gone. I’m not sure every mom goes through this after they become a parent – but I did. I probably knew it would happen, but wasn’t aware that it would be only 3months after my little girl was born. All of a sudden, the cute cries of a newborn are more like ear piercing screams that are in no way cute or precious. When most other babies were still sleeping at 3 months, my daughter decided to stop napping during the day. Seriously. She got up at 5:30 am and went to bed at 10:30 pm. No matter how hard I tried naps – she never slept during the day. She just screamed. Not a ‘colicky’ scream. More like a ‘I’m mad at the whole world’ scream.
This darling little girl was the reason my husband and I made a pact to never purposely produce offspring again. We couldn’t chance getting another child like her. Don’t get me wrong – I love that girl beyond words. As I always tell her, ‘You know I love you more than my luggage!’ It doesn’t change the fact that she challenged me big time! I was a mom for the first time- and I got her. Talk about a boot camp in learning how to deal with a strong willed child.
Now, fast forward to January 2009 when she was 3 ½ years old. Something happened with the pact my husband and I made and we actually purposely conceived another child. I was 8 ½ months pregnant with baby #2 – a boy. And this particular day in January, I was slapped in the face with ‘The euphoria is gone’ realization. It had been gone for a while – but I remember VIVIDLY thinking this day ‘Why in the world and I’m having another baby? Why am I doing this to myself again?’ And I was serious.
What day was this?
It all started when I went to pick up my 3 ½ year old daughter from preschool. It was her first day back from Christmas break and she was fairly excited to see her friends on our drive there that morning. The minute we drove into the parking lot – she became this shy, embarrassed, frightened little girl. She didn’t want to see her friends or teachers. She didn’t want me to leave her. She grabbed onto my legs like a crazy child and wouldn’t let go. It had only been a couple weeks – what was her deal?
After I was able to leave in the midst of screaming and my limbs being ripped off as I tried to walk away – I so looked forward to 3 hours by myself before school was over. When I came back that afternoon to pick her up I told her she could run in the field by the school - you know, burn off some energy. It was cold and the wind made it, well, freezing, so I told her to put her coat on or else she couldn’t play in the field. That turned into a 10 minute battle, in which I won, then we headed out the door with her friend, Sofia, and Sofia’s mom, Melissa (my good friend). We exit the building and the girls run off like mad into the parking lot without seeing all the moving cars. I’m screaming trying to get her attention so she wouldn’t get hurt – but she didn’t hear me. Everyone else did, but Bella did not. My frustration level is now rising. After getting her near me again, I was able to grab her coat to walk across the parking lot with her. I was not permitted to hold her hand.
Finally, we reach the field and the girls are off running. It’s still freezing and I don’t want to stay too long, because I still needed my limbs to work so I could drive home. After about 45 seconds, we notice the girls are WAY too far away from us, so me and my friend tried to call to the girls to tell them it’s too far and they needed to come back. One kid did come back. That one who did, was not my kid. My friend was nice enough to go after Bella to get her for me - after all I’m 8 ½ months pregnant and not much in shape to run a marathon to catch my daughter, fighting the wind along the way.
So, the two girls are back in the vicinity of us and they play for a few more minutes and then I realize it’s just time to go since it is freezing. My nose and hands are freezing and I want to get in the warm car. Again, we yell to the girls to tell them it’s time to go and they needed to come back. There was a little hesitation from both girls this time and as we walked over to get them, the one kid ‘who did come back’ the first time realized her mom was serious and decided she’d better go with her. My daughter, on the other hand, thought it would be a perfect time to test me.
So, as Sofia and her mom are walking away I go to get my daughter who is still on the bleachers. As I approach her, she begins chanting, ‘No, No, No, No, No…. I want to stay, I want to stay, I want to stay…’ In the midst of this chanting I’m telling her we are leaving and if she doesn’t come herself - I will carry her. Me saying that pushed some sort of button in her head and she got in her ‘defense’ mode. She laid down on the top bleacher, wrapped her legs and arms around the bleacher seat and began screaming, ‘NO NO NO NO NO’.....
It was then that I was secretly hoping that my husband would come jumping out from behind the trees and yell ‘Surprise, You’re on candid camera!’ and Bella would unlock her grip from the bleachers and laugh and walk merrily back to the car once we all chuckled over the funny moment. Or maybe by some small chance, Ashton Kutcher found out about me and decided I’d be the perfect candidate for Punk’d. But, nobody jumped out. Not my husband. Not Aston Kutcher. I’m feeling a bit betrayed now - this is real. This is not a joke.
So as I approach my daughter, who has now molded to and is one with the top bleacher, I summons my strength to pry her away from the cold piece of metal. I, naively, tried lifting her from her belly and that didn’t work. Her belly came up, but arms and legs remained attached. So I started with her feet. I got her feet released from the bench and picked her up so I could unpeel her fingers from under the seat. I began to walk away so removing her fingers would be easier while in motion. After the last 3 of the white knuckled fingers came off, she began screaming and kicking.
I had to adjust how I was holding her because my stomach was a big road block in holding a flailing child. I put one arm between her legs and held her waist and the other on the top half of her.
As I held her she was rotating like a rotisserie chicken in the oven. After her screaming became escalated and a little distorted, my friend turned around and asked if she was laughing or if she was mad. “She’s mad!” is all I said. As I approached my Land Rover in the parking lot I was still hoping for my husband or Ashton Kutcher to coming jumping out from somewhere, but as I looked at the mostly empty parking lot, I realized there was no where for them to hide, let alone a tv crew. So I keep walking and oh wait, what was that? That was a boot that my daughter just kicked off as her legs flew all over the place. I stopped and prepared to bend over to pick up her boot the best I could - with a 25 pound stomach sticking out and my 30 pound daughter wrapped around me. I either was going to drop her, fall over completely or I was actually going to succeed in getting her boot.
I bend over and I was able to pick up the boot without incident and as I raise up I see a couple mom’s pulling out of the parking lot. They were clearing looking at me and my daughter and they seemed to have a look of ‘pain’ on their face. Maybe they felt sorry for me because they’ve had the same thing happen with their kid, or they figured I was a terrible mom and needed help with taming my tiger. I mean, child.
I’m almost to our Rover and the boot falls again. I try to pick it up again and proceeded to drop it one more time. Now I’m just mad. I get the boot, I open the door and I put her in her car seat and throw her boot to the other side. Just then my beautiful daughter turned towards me, arched her back and screamed at the top of her lungs her eyes glowing in a stare down attempt. Now, I’ve never seen the movie The Exorcist and never wanted to, but even those of us who’ve never seen it have seen the scene when Linda Blair’s head spins around. Staring at my daugther I was wondering if that was going to happen right there in my own vehicle. Had her arching fit taken place in my Stratus, gravity is on my side and I can lean on her and get her strapped in the car seat. Not so much with the Land Rover. Not only is it high, but I’m pregnant and don’t have much use of my stomach muscles right now, so I did the only thing I could do.
I grabbed her crotch, pushed her in the seat and strapped one leg in. As I’m doing this my friend walks over and asks if I’ll be okay. ‘Yeah, I’ll be fine.’ I lied and continued on. She is now arching her back, and leaning to her right so I can’t get her left leg in the strap - but I was pretty much livid right now and running on pure adrenalin. I grabbed her leg, pushed her down as hard as I could muster and got the other leg strapped in. Ah ha, victory. Her screaming is now worse, but her head isn’t spinning. This is good. I slip her arms in the arms straps, knowing they won’t stay long since both latches broke within a couple days of each other - but I had hope. I shut the door and got in to drive away amidst the ear piercing screams from the back seat. I reached back and took her barbie away and let her know she would get it back ‘tomorrow’. Following that remark, sounds came from the back seat that you would never suppose would come from a 3 ½ year old, 30 pound girl.
She takes her arms out of the straps and in the manliest voice kept repeating ‘BARBIE, BARBIE’ as she tried reaching into the front seat. After a couple minutes I realize her hands are coming a little too far up front for being strapped in the back seat, so I take a quick glance and see that my 30 pound daughter has pulled her car seat almost completely off the back seat and is now at an angle. I still can’t figure out how she got the seat belt to loosen up like that. I reached back and the best I could I pushed her seat back onto the back seat and finished our drive home. I didn’t even have a radio to drown out the sounds (wasn’t working at the time). All I heard for 30 minutes was screaming. I let her know, in a very loud voice, that when we got home she was going to go straight to her room. And then I told her that I was taking every toy she had away. Every toy! Every movie! Even toys I already gave away, I was going to take away! I was over it! I was done!
When we got home and stepped inside, I told her to get up to her room - and much to my surprise, she did. I went up after her, watched her climb into her bed and I told her I’d come get her after a while and she said, crying, ‘Okay’. A little too easy – but okay.
So I shut the door enjoying the fact that I could just sit in silence for a while. I walk down the hall to the office so I could check my email and that’s when I noticed that my dog had gotten sick all over our office floor. Three times to be exact. So, I had to clean this up - which is not easy when you’re pregnant and everything makes you gag. Seriously, I’ve been gagging for 8 ½ months now.
So, I got the gloves, bags and towels and began to clean up the vomit and all the while thinking how much I wanted to cry. Oh wait, I did cry. I was exhausted. I just had an energy draining ‘pick up the daugther from preschool’ and now I’m on my hands and knees gagging and cleaning up dog vomit. All I wanted to do was lay down and go to sleep and wake up with my husband home taking care of everything. But, that wasn’t going to happen. So I had a very small pity party, with myself as the only guest, cleaned up the mess, sat in a chair and waited until my daughter was allowed to come out.
And all of that, my friends, took place in a 45 minute time period. I never did hear ‘Surprise!’ I never met Ashton. And I never did find out how my daughter pulled the car seat off the back seat of the Land Rover. It was just one of those days.