Thursday, March 31, 2016

Clueless: Part One

Mom and Jimmy
Chase was four years old when his brother Jimmy was born. Like Chase, he was premature, but he stayed in my womb two weeks longer, and his hospital stay was shortened too. My doctor had warned that another pregnancy could result in another preemie, and although I tried to get more rest, my baby body could only accommodate so much. I envied the mothers that brought home their babies a day or two after delivery.

Home Jimmy came—albeit late—and it was then that I noticed a difference in their behavior as infants. Eye contact for one thing, I felt a strong connection with Jimmy especially when I fed him. Although Chase’s eyes had met mine, the pull on my emotions seemed stronger with Jimmy, but because Chase was my first, I had no frame of reference.

Jimmy turned his head when I said his name, tracked the movement of my mouth whenever I spoke to him, and reached for me to pick him up. Chase didn’t always respond to his name and happily entertained himself when I left him alone in his playpen. Family and friends had dubbed Chase the “good baby.” He was quiet and seemed content most of the time. I remember thinking how lucky I was that Chase didn’t need all my attention. 

Cuddling felt different too. Jimmy snuggled against my chest and wrapped his arms around my neck which created a pleasant bond between us. When I held Chase it was awkward, much like cradling an appealing bag of groceries, and as he got older, he preferred to attach himself to my back. My hair fascinated him, and he buried his face in it, like the union forged between a mother and baby monkey.

Feeding time for Jimmy seemed to be the only time that Chase showed an interest in his brother, and while I understood there could be jealousy, I hadn’t anticipated what Chase would do about it. As soon as he saw the two of us settle on the couch he acted up, whining, shrieking, and leaping about. Going into another room and closing the door was out of the question. I tried it a couple times, but it amped up the noise, and Chase needed supervision. A four-year-old out of control is unsafe.

“NOOO BABY,” he screamed one day and I was shocked—it being one of his few audible sentences. At least little brother got him talking. What caught me off guard was that while all this was going on Jimmy seemed to find the situation amusing. A grin would settle on his little face like the two boys had planned my impending madness together.

Whenever I could arrange it I’d have Dave distract Chase during a feeding, but unfortunately the man also needed to work. I tried some strategies on my own like spending time with Chase beforehand, or offering him toys or coloring books. But feeding times were unpredictable and Chase had a short attention span.

It’s hard for me to admit this, but I began to resent Chase; his disturbances were robbing me of the time I needed to nurture my new infant. There was no more wondering if Chase would improve with age. At four, something was very off with him. It took his baby brother to teach me these things.

8 comments: said...

You hit it out of the park again, girl. These posts are some of your best writing.

barb bits said...

Thanks, Patsy. I am aiming for home runs. Glad you liked it.

Amber Lea Starfire said...

I love the picture of you and Jimmy. It really enhances the poignancy of your story.

barb bits said...

Thanks, Amber. I had that pix buried in an album and it is one of my favorites.

barb bits said...

Thanks to Elizabeth, her comment in an email:

It's beautiful and so honest.

barb bits said...

Thanks to Nan from her comment in an email:

I loved that. That was really well written.

Laura McHale Holland said...

This is so beautifully written and honest, Barbara. I can't wait to read more about your journey as a mother in this challenging situation. I'm cheering for you now, wish I could have cheered for you then.

barb bits said...

Laura: Thanks for cheering me on here. There is more to tell. I was very lucky that I did get support from family and friends along the way.