The curious case of the inexplicably hysterical baby


My toddler, Phoebe, is bouncing around in her bedroom when she should be napping. I can hear her over the monitor (I’m not one of those “I need a video monitor so I can always be looking at my snuggly wumkins pookie poo all the time” people) and she’s obviously taking the books off her shelves and kicking the wall next to her bed. Normally I’d go upstairs and tell Phoebe it’s nap time and that she had to go to sleep.  She’s a terrible monster when she hasn’t napped and I do not want to deal with the thirty pounds meltdown machine that is an unnapped toddler.

I cannot go put her back to bed because I am trapped under a tiny tyrant. I am stuck beneath a bald-headed toothless overlord who uses her deceptive pitifulness and adorability to enslave me into forced snuggles. This evil super genius is my seven month old baby,  Zoe.

I feel bad that Zoe doesn’t get a lot of blog time. Unlike the toddler she can’t say anything funny or cute. She doesn’t run around like a whirlwind or destroy things for fun like Phoebe. She’s a baby and does baby things. Granted, they are great baby things. She has big beautiful gray eyes and a perfect round head without any hair at all even though she’s seven months old. She has a beautiful shining smile and wiggles like a puppy when she’s excited. Zoe will probably fill pages of blog stories in the future, but for now she’s just the sweet sidekick to Phoebe’s hilarious adventures.

Today, however, is another story. Zoe spent the day wiggling around on the floor as usual, occasionally soiling herself and requiring nourishment. She practiced trying to roll over and waved her favorite crinkley book around. Once I put Phoebe down for a nap I scooped Zoe up for some serious snuggles. I try not to spend too much time carrying Zoe as she’s already a little spoiled and thinks she should be constantly held, which is why she gets lots of quality floor time. As soon as the toddler is having nap time, however, the cuddles begin.

A minute into the snuggling she started looking sad. We call it her “booboo face.” It’s the precursor to crying and I tried to nip that right in the bud. I bounced her. I kissed her. I sang. I danced. The booboo face kept right on rolling into full-blown sobs, for no apparent reason. She wasn’t hurt. She wasn’t hungry. She wasn’t wet. She was screaming seemingly for the joy of it. I have no other explanation for it. It’s like she suddenly was invested with a demon and was trying to scream it out of herself.

The sobbing evolved into hyperventilating. Have you ever seen an infant hyperventilate? It’s sad and hilarious at the same time. Babies already kind of look like cranky old men but the hyperventilating ratchets that up to eleven. Zoe’s face bunches up and her toothless mouth hangs open. Any second I expect her to tell some punk kid to get off her lawn. Of course, as I’m not a sociopath, I’m not about to allow my infant to gasp and wail for the sake of humor.

Operation “make the baby stop crying” is similar to my failed “keep the baby from crying” ordeal. I tried to feed her, and she screamed. I tried to hold her tight, and she fought me. I tried to kiss her, and she thrashed away from me. I finally got her to rest her head on my shoulder while I rocked in the rocking chair and hummed baby songs until she quieted down. Zoe still sniffled and hiccuped for a long time, prolonging my maternal guilt.

As I write this, the toddler upstairs has finally quieted down. She probably crawled under the baby crib and I’ll have to drag her out when nap time is over. In addition to the unconscious baby, the cat has also joined the mommy lap party. I have to pee and I’d like to get something to eat. I need to flip the laundry. There are dishes that should be put away. None of that is going to be done any time soon. I’ve got a sleeping warm little bundle who had was terribly upset and needs some love. I can do the laundry later.

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