You know when you go to the doctor’s office and they ask you, “On a scale from 0 to 10, what is your pain tolerance?”
When my water broke with Baby Lo, we rushed to the Emergency Room. “Level 3!” I declared and it was mostly that high due to nerves. I just felt like I peed my pants over and over but there were no contractions yet. I actually remember at one point thinking, “Maybe I will be one of those women who has a great pain tolerance for labor.” HaHa, oh silly girl. Then the pitocin kicked in and I smiled and told the nurse, “Okay, I think I am a 6.” An hour later, I rocked myself in an upright fetal position and exclaimed, “I am an 8.” I know, I am bad ass. Actually, then the kind anesthesiologist made his appearance and knocked me back down to a 2 before I ever had a chance to make it to 10. Thank you, kind sir.
So, why am I sharing this with you?
Well, because I have learned in these quick few months that as a Mommy I have a 0 – 10 tolerance scale and unlike my time in Labor and Delivery, no kind man comes into my home to shoot a needle into my back to make everything all better again.
You see Baby Lo or Little Miss Thang as I kindly refer to her now, has developed a new found personality. It consists of the first touches of what us parents like to call “temper tantrums.”
It happened one morning as I was engaged in our routine. Yes, she was a bit crankier than usually and you know what? So, was I probably. When I placed her in her highchair for breakfast, it happened. She locked her legs, threw herself backwards and immediately started screaming. She did not stop. I was bewildered. I thought, “Oh, no, what is in her highchair?” Sure an object had caused her reaction, I felt up and down the seat before it finally hit me, “Oh, no she didn’t?” Baby girl just lost her marbles. I literally tried bending her little body but dang that girl would have made a cheer coach proud with her locked up body limbs (I was a high school cheerleader stunt flyer. Inside note/joke.)
A day or two later, it happened again. This time as I went to placed her in her car seat.
Since then we have developed a squeal, no I take that back, a full on Pterodactyl scream. That is the only way to describe it. Exactly how I envision a prehistoric Pterodactyl sounding as it swoops in for its prey. This scream happens now as a way of communication and usually errs on the side of, “I am really quite pissed off, Mom.”
The scream erupts after bath as I wrestle her to put on her diaper and PJ’s. The scream happens when we are purely exhausted. Sometimes it is accompanied by shaking her head and perching her lips to an offered bottle or pacifier, and sometimes even Linda Blair’s character from the Exorcist comes out as she pulls my hair (always the strands at the base of my neck – it is the worse) or chucks the pacifier across the room. Who are you?
But, my favorite, absolute favorite now happens in the middle of the night. When Baby Pterodactyl awakes from her sleep. Gone are the days when I would awaken to her sweet baby giggles, I would lay there and smile listening to her jibber to herself. Now, she sits straight up and screams, and screams LOUD and HARD.
It was during one of these nights after a post-bath meltdown and a “I cannot fall asleep” crying episode that it hit me. I am in pain. Emotionally and physically I am on the 10 right now if a 0 – 10 tolerance scale existed for parenting. As Baby Lo fought me I could feel myself tensing and the frustration building and in those moments I just wanted to scream right there alongside her. Scream, I tell you. Scream, “I am at a 10, people I am at a 10.” Then frantically searching the room for someone, anyone, yelling, “Epidural, epidural, I will take an epidural now. Where are you?!”
But then it happens, just as I implement cooping mechanisms to keep my cool, she stops screaming, stops crying, stops throwing herself into a pre-stage backbend and she does the sweetest thing. She curls herself tight against my chest and I melt like butter, butter I tell ya. Then I find myself staring at her smiling and giving her dozens of kisses. Just like that, I am all the way back to 0.
It is amazing this 0 – 10 parenting tolerance scale. Quite frankly I wished it existed with every human interaction but our children are quite arguably the only human beings on this Earth that can drive us to our mental breaking point of 10 and with one facial expression, one word, one baby cue or one sweet smile, we come crashing down to a euphoric-high of 0. It is a never ending roller-coaster of emotions, of highs and lows and 0’s and 10’s.
Our children are the end all be all of that gauge that sways one way to 10 and quickly bounces back to 0.
It is funny how in the middle of the night when I feel like I have met my breaking point and the doctor comes rushing in, Baby Lo gives me a smile, a kiss, a cuddle or a squeeze around the neck, and I turn and wave him away, “I am good doctor! No epidural needed over here. Just my sweet Baby Lo.”
Until Baby Pterodactyl strikes again…
*DISCLAIMER: I know true “temper tantrums” are recognized around the 1-year mark. That what I am describing is an infant’s sudden loss of emotional control and an inability to express themselves. Please just play along with my mild attempt at humor as I express the emotional roller-coaster we all experience daily as parents.