Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Bad Things I Did as a Baby

My mother had a series of stories she would recount as evidence of how much trouble I had been as a baby.  She might still tell these stories, but I no longer talk to her, so for me they stopped a few years ago. 

The first one was my birth and the time surrounding it.  My mother had scheduled a c-section to happen a couple of weeks before I was due to be born because I was positioned transverse, with my spine perpendicular to hers.  The first thing I did was to "turn on her," into the standard head-down birthing position so that the doctor told her to skip the c-section and wait for my due date.  "You turned on me before you were even born," she used to half-joke.  She'd wanted the c-section.

The next thing I did was to be born.  I "ripped her from end to end," she liked to say.  This was her hyperbolic way of saying there was some amount of vaginal tearing.  Episiotomies -- or cutting so that the baby doesn't cause a vaginal tear while coming out -- were standard back then, but she said I was born too fast for her doctor to make a cut.  Small tears are considered pretty standard now, especially since episiotomies are no longer considered a great idea, but I didn't know this until I had a child of my own.  I also caused her pain when I was born.  I was also born a week and a half late and larger than the average baby.  I was also born facing upward, "spine to spine," which was wrong.  I thought this was very abnormal until I had a child of my own and the first thing I saw was her face.  It happens, I guess.

The next thing I did was biting down when nursing.  She said it was very painful, so she took to spanking me every time I did it.  I was too young to remember any of this, but she liked to talk about it.  After a few times being spanked while feeding, she said I refused to nurse anymore, and she considered me weaned.  She discovered the next day that I had caught chicken pox from my older brother.  I was two months old. 

When I was a few months old, my mother said she found me sucking on a vaporizer insert from the humidifier she kept on the floor of the living room.  She said she had to miss a favorite TV show to take me to the emergency room.  She always referenced that "Who Shot JR?" episode, but I've looked it up and that aired before I was born, so I'm not sure what show I actually made her miss.  She has never mentioned me needing actual medical treatment once we got to the hospital, so I presume I was fine.

When I was a little older and started pulling myself to stand, I fell and cut my head open on the corner of the coffee table.  She had to take me to the emergency room again.  She didn't talk about this event as much, so I assume there wasn't anything memorable on TV at the time.  She said I didn't need stitches but got a butterfly bandage.  I still have the shiny little scar on my forehead, but no one else notices it.  It's very small.

I also cried.  I also wanted to be held.  I wanted to be carried, despite the fact that I was heavy and "too big to carry."  I used to wake up during the night and call out for her, asking for water.  I don't know why she didn't just let me sleep in a real bed so that I could get my own water, but I remember sleeping in a crib.  I must've been at least three, and I was toilet trained, but I couldn't get out of bed to use the toilet during the night.  Still, I didn't wet the bed a single time since I can remember.  I remember crouching behind the bars of my crib, pretending to live in a cage at the zoo.  My mother said she had to take me to the doctor because I would go days without using the bathroom at all.  She said the doctor laughed at her overly careful parenting and said that I simply had a very large bladder, nothing to worry about.  I think now that I was probably dehydrated, something I was first hospitalized for the month before I started kindergarten.

I feel stupid and slightly ridiculous admitting I didn't know how much of this was normal baby stuff until I had a child of my own.  I thought I'd been terrible.  I thought I had caused everyone undue amounts of trouble.  I tried so hard to be perfect.




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