When Olivia was an infant, we lived minute by minute. She cried pretty much all the time so we were all just trying to get through each minute to the next.
I remember making the 80 mile drive to my mom’s house many times during my twelve weeks of maternity leave just because we (Alyssa and I) needed a change of scenery. Of course we took screamy Olivia with us. I think Tom needed a break from her as much as I needed a break from the four walls of our house. Yes, O screamed at my mom’s just as loudly as she did at home but it helped to get out, get away, even if I was taking the source of the stress with me.
I remember telling people that it was going to get better. I’d say it while holding a squalling Olivia on my arm, her tummy against my fore arm, her legs on either side of my elbow, my arm bouncing up and down. It had to get better, I insisted.
Olivia’s first Easter, she would have been about four and a half months old, was spent at my aunt E’s house. Her husband loves kids and babies. J went out of his way to seek out the babies in the family. Babies and kids love him too.
But Olivia, well, she was miserable and hated everyone and everything. I thought at the time that she even sort of hated me because I couldn’t fix her pain. But she tolerated me better than she did anyone else. Uncle J tried to take her a few times, thinking that if she was going to scream even while I was holding her, what difference did it make who was holding her.
But each time he tried, he’d give her back to me after five minutes or so, with a sad look on his face. Finally, one time when he was giving her back to me, he said, “You poor thing.”
I looked down at my screaming daughter and then back up at my uncle and said serenely, “It’ll get better.”
And I meant it. I mean, what can you do? You just get through it.
About a month later, we started Olivia on Zantac because her doctor (at the time, ugh!) finally believed me that something was wrong. The doctor finally heard Olivia cough a dry cough that could have meant she had reflux that was irritating her throat and making her stomach hurt constantly and the Zantac kicked in a few weeks later and it was better.
Last weekend my dad was visiting. He asked me if Olivia ever had any happy days as an infant. He was thinking about my giant eight month old nephew (seriously, this kid is HUGE, he weighs 24 pounds at eight months old!) and how happy that boy is. He grins all the time, he belly laughs at his big brother. He’s pulling to a stand and climbing into boxes. He’s awesome.
I grinned down at my beautiful eight year old girl who was lying across my lap, gigging hysterically at something and I said, “Eh, she was pretty miserable as a baby, but she’s really happy these days.”
I tend to forget how hard those early months were. These days of laughter and joy and yes, even IEP meetings make it easy to forget the rough start Olivia had.
But others remember for me and maybe I should be grateful. They help me remember how far we’ve come, how great things really are and how bad they once were.
One day last summer we were all visiting another aunt’s house (I have a lot of aunts and uncles) and my uncle J was sitting next to me watching the kids play. His granddaughter was playing with A and O. J watched O run after A and laugh when A fell to the ground dramatically.
J turned to me and said, “You were right, it got better.”
I didn’t take my eyes off the kids as I smiled and replied, “I always knew it would.”