on Little Things

A funny thing happened today. It made me feel very good, so naturally I want to share it with the world.

One of the programmers at the company I work for is an oriental lady named Waverly Chang who hails from China. She was already working for the company when I started, but unlike me she had no children and vocally proclaimed she had no interest in having any. I always told her straight up that children are the most wonderful thing anyone can ever have.  Regardless of the heartache and misery they will invoke, the joy, love and meaning they bring into our lives is simply incomprehensible to people without children.

At first Waverly was adamantly opposed to the idea of children, however she always seemed interested to hear little stories of what my kids had done, or what mischief they had been up to. And like all children, mine got up to an awful lot of mischief.  Anyway after a couple of years Waverly changed her mind. Her son Allan was born about a year later. She was so proud of him, but he was so much work!  As an exhausted new parent deprived of sleep she very naturally immediately asserted that with only one, they were done!  Allan was thereby doomed to the miserably lonely existence of an only child. {My choice of words, not hers :).}

I reassured her by sharing stories of our firstborn, in which my wife and I were the heroes and our oldest child, Tamryn, was the villain.  Stories, which if you know anything of me at all, you know are truths.  One such tale was of Tamryn’s first six weeks of life.

Tamryn was born wide-eyed, alert, curious, and hungry.  The first three we immediately recognized and felt as proud as any young couple could be – after all, this gift was the fruit of our loins.  That all changed the first night we brought Tamryn home.  Without fail Tamryn would wake up screaming every two hours.  As every human knows, the pitch and tenor of a newborn’s scream sends shock-waves of discordant distress throughout our bodies.  We were literally beside ourselves in our efforts to appease our baby.  We soon established a ritual, we’d pick her up, comfort her as best we could while our numb minds kicked into frantic overdrive from our exhausted, disturbed sleep.  Once in reasonable control of our faculties we’d change Tamryn’s diaper which, to add insult to injury, was pretty much always soiled.  Then my wife would nurse Tamryn until she quieted and fell asleep {Tamryn, not my wife:)}.  And then the cycle would begin again, with the virtual two hour clock ticking so loud we’d be hard pressed to get back to sleep before the screaming began again.

According to the doctors everything was fine, Tamryn was alert, slowly gaining weight, and my wife’s boobs were so engorged they felt more like two bricks than two breasts.  It was beyond miserable, in fact at one point I recall turning to my teary-eyed wife and exclaiming, “I can’t believe anyone is stupid enough to have more than one of these!” {It seems by my own proclamation we’re pretty stupid, we’ve had four :)}

Turns out the doctors were wrong.  I think it was my mother, but it could have been a friend who suggested we try supplementing breast-feeding with some formula.  We were opposed as there is no question a mother’s breast milk is far and away the best for babies, both nutritionally and long-term health wise. Those aren’t a hippy’s opinion, they are medically proven and indisputable facts.  However a desperate need for sleep soon overcame our reluctance.  {It seems that when a promise of sleep knocks on the door, principle flies out the window.}  We bought some formula… and Tamryn slept for six straight hours!  Yes, bliss is indeed a number a direction and a time, bliss is six straight hours.  Turns out Tamryn was suffering from something my mother called Starving Baby Syndrome.  The poor little tike was getting just enough nutrition to not fall into the red flag zone weight wise, but in order to do so she had to be fed every two hours.

As for those mega-boobs?  Well, spectacular though they appeared, they were not producing enough milk to satisfy our child.  We tried pumping, and it turns out we’d actually got an age old expression completely wrong.  It shouldn’t be “You can’t squeeze blood out of a stone”, but, “You can’t squeeze breast-milk out of stony boobs…”  Once we supplemented Tamryn’s feeding with formula life soon returned to normal.  I sincerely hope you don’t believe that last sentence, because it is a complete lie!  Life never returns to normal after you have a child, so if you think you’ll pop one out then go back to partying like a carefree teenager… well, you won’t, but more on the pros and cons of that later.  Anyway, Tamryn started gaining weight at a better pace, and we have never once looked back.  Not once!  Nope, we’ve looked back thousands of times.  Funny thing how abject misery turns into some of the most wonderful times of your life when related to friends…

You might be wondering why I would be so callous as to tell Waverly such horror stories? After all wasn’t she suffering enough with her own newborn? First off, suffering is not an appropriate word to use to describe the situation – indeed it doesn’t even come close. Second, and more important, there are many valuable lessons to be learnt from personal tales.  Lessons we have significant difficulty gleaning from books, yet which we readily pick up by listening to our more experienced friends and family.

Onward!  It took me a while, but I eventually convinced Waverly that depriving Allan of a sibling would be cruel and unusual punishment.  She eventually capitulated and a few years later they had a little girl who they named Kelly.

So where is all this leading?

Well recently Waverly has been commiserating with me about the miseries of a working life.  Today I saw her in the company kitchen and asked how things were going.  She quickly glanced around before whispering, “Thank God it is Thursday, only two more days till the weekend and I’m with Allan and Kelly!” I corrected her by saying, “Only one more day, we shouldn’t count today…”

This is where this post led.  The thing that made me feel very good was how Waverly and her husband have two wonderful little angels in their life.  To Waverly, those two bundles of joy literally make it worth suffering through a five day week at work if doing so means she can be with them for a two day weekend. I feel even better for having some small part in helping her reach the decision to have them.

As for all you folks out there weighing up the pros and cons of whether or not to take the plunge and change your lives forever by having children?  Think of the workweek to weekend ratio mentioned above.  Five to two, says it’s the best thing you’ll ever do…

Such moments are some of the little things it is so easy to not notice. The little things that make life worth living.

~ why Kids ~
Little babies,
little smiles,
little moments,
with our little child…

About C.G.Ayling

Musing misuser of words, lover of lyrical literature, author, occasional contrary thoughts. An honorable man’s name, in memoriam.
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