It Could Be Worse (So Much Worse) (Day #41)

It was bound to happen eventually.

Lil Mil and I were sitting outside at a cute little Beverly Hills cafe, enjoying a late lunch (well, I was enjoying a late lunch. Lil Mil had hers in the car). Lil Mil was in her carseat, being her usual happy-to-be-out-in-the-world self. I was hoping this would buy me an hour or so of writing time.

I ate my sandwich first, then opened my laptop. I’d been making good progress that morning and wanted to finish the scene I’d been working on.

I started typing. I wrote three words. And then I heard a moan.

It wasn’t an especially loud one. A mini-moan, really. But it was enough to prompt a half-turn from two guys sitting nearby. They were young. Obviously single. Definitely childless. Not in the mood for a moany serenade.

I looked up just as they looked over. Our eyes met. As soon as they saw me see them, their expressions changed. Softened. Not a true softening, mind you. It was more of a she-sees-me-glaring-at-her-so-I-better-tone-it-down social reflex.

“How old is your little boy?” the one closest to me asked. I glanced down at Lil Mil, dressed in bright pink flowers.

“She’s actually a girl,” I replied. I said this apologetically, as though it was my fault he couldn’t read gender cues. “She’s seven weeks. And I promise, she’s never like this,” I lied. “I think she just wants to be held.” With that, I reached down and picked her up. The one surefire way to stop the moans.

Oh, the moans stopped alright. Instantly. And were replaced by glass-shattering screams. Shrieks of such a decibel that I wondered if it was possible for a baby to burst her own eardrums. I stared at her, marveling that such a little person could make such a big sound.

And then I realized that everyone else on the patio was also staring at her. Or at me, rather. The woman who was permitting her baby to scream like a banshee in the middle of a restaurant. In Beverly Hills. My god, lady, where do you think we are? The valley?

Fortunately for my fellow diners, Husband had prepared me for this very circumstance. His advice was simple: if Lil Mil ever cries loud enough to disturb the people around you, leave. Immediately. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200, just get the hell out.

So I did. I jumped out of my seat and bolted, nearly knocking my still-full glass of cucumber lemonade (their specialty!) onto the girl next to me. The problem with outdoor dining, I soon discovered, is that you can’t really “leave.” Exiting the boundaries of the restaurant doesn’t do a whole lot of good. The people on the patio can still hear you when you’re on the sidewalk, especially when your child is emitting blood-curdling (and slightly frightening) sounds.

So I went further, down the sidewalk and around a nearby building, where I promptly whipped out my boob and shoved it in Lil Mil’s face, even though there was no way she was hungry after the oink fest she’d had in the car. For the first time ever, waving my nipple in her face did no good. She just started up at me, her face contorted in one of those soundless, my-distress-has-exceeded-my-lung-capacity kind of screams. I stared back at her blankly. At a loss.

“I have no idea what’s wrong with you!” I said to my wailing child. “I don’t know what to do because I don’t know what’s wrong!” I said these things in a calm, I’m-not-panicking voice, as much for myself as for her.

She kept screaming.

So I did what I’ve seen Mom do with her – I cradled her, turned her body towards mine, and held her tight, her face and torso pressed against my body.

1….2…3

And she was asleep. Out like a light.

Oh. Right. She missed her nap today.

Walking steadily, delicately, careful not to wake her, I made my way back to my table amidst pointedly averted eyes. I mumbled something about this never happening before and quickly gathered my things. Diaper bag and carseat hooked on one arm, clutching Lil Mil with the other, I hurried to my car.

As I was strapping a still-sleeping Lil Mil into her carseat, it hit me:

It was true. This had never happened before.

Lil Mil will be 8 weeks old on Sunday. I’ve taken her to countless coffee shops and cafes and fancy restaurants. She’s been on four plane rides. She went to the mall during her first week of life (not my best mommy moment, I know…but she needed pink clothes!). She’s been in public almost as many days as she’s been alive and had never once had a major meltdown. Not one. Moan fests, yes. The occasional diaper blowout, indeed. But never a full-fledged scream-at-the-top-of-her-lungs hissy fit.

I am lucky. Lucky or undeservingly blessed. Life With A Newborn hasn’t been easy by any stretch of the imagination, but it could be SO MUCH WORSE. I could have a meltdown-prone child. Or a colicky one. She could be not eating or not sleeping or not growing. She could have a myriad of issues, ranging from the merely annoying to the alarmingly serious.

But she doesn’t. She is (dare I say it?) an easy baby. That doesn’t mean she’s a low-maintainence one (not even close), but her maintenance is manageable. She eats well. She sleeps even better. She is usually quite pleasant in public.

She makes embracing this detour so much easier than it could otherwise be.

Which is why, if this book of mine ever gets published, you’ll see her name on the first page. Because she’s not just the inspiration and the motivation for this project. She’s the reason I’m able to do it at all.

(In case you’re wondering, yes, that’s Lil Mil above. No, I did not stop mid-meltdown to take a picture. This gem was snapped about an hour ago, in our living room, out of the earshot of lunching Beverly Hillians)


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