Monday, January 23, 2006

Trouble Brewing- The Emergence of Evil Corinne

An email written to family and friends when Corinne was 6 months old. The pictures I referred to were a series of about 20 photos, each and every one depicting Corinne screaming, crying, or both. Sadly, despite the optimism in the latter part of the e-mail, the era of Evil Corinne was just beginning.

Hi everyone,
Hopefully you all got the last batch of Corinne pictures, which I feel pretty much speak for themselves. First let me start off by saying that she has been 1000% better for the past week, which is why I am now able to calmly sit and write about this with somewhat of a sense of humor. Prior to that I was most definitely not laughing because I sincerely thought that this screaming, humorless, perpetually unhappy banshee was going to be the permanent personality of my demon-spawn daughter. I couldn't remember what it was like to have a nice baby. We uttered phrases like "why did we have kids?!?!" and "are you KIDDING me?!?!" and "you are SO going to be an only child!" and "F--- this!!!" It was definitely the lowest point for me in the 6 months of her existence so far. It started some time after the holidays without warning or obvious cause. She was utterly, positively unbearable. She just cried and cried and screamed and nothing made her happy for long. Her attention span for all those great toys she got for Christmas was all of 10 minutes. Once we had cycled through all the baby stations I was at a loss. She wasn't happy being held for very long either. And the most frustrating thing was that you could tell that she wasn't in pain- she was just PISSED OFF. She has this horrible angry sounding temper tantrum thing that she does where she loses her voice and her face gets all red and her veins in her little bald head all pop out. She is SO stubborn (just like her father- ha ha!). She went to the doctor because we thought she had an ear infection but no, that wasn't it either. We told ourselves that she must be teething because we needed to believe that such behavior had to have a really good reason behind it, and that there would eventually be a light at the end of the tunnel. In retrospect I'm not sure that that was the cause, as she still doesn't have any teeth. I think she was in a downward spiral of overtiredness that had become self-perpetuating. I also think we weren't feeding her enough. We had started her on solids (cereal and we were just getting to vegetables), so it could be that her digestive system wasn't ready. We did it by the book, introducing one new food at a time and giving it a few days to make sure she had no allergic reaction. We still can't say for sure that allergies aren't the problem. To be sure, we cut off all solids all together last weekend and went without for a whole week. The improvement started immediately, but it could be a coincidence or other variables (As people of science we didn't approach this very scientifically. Far too many variables going on at once). I also started feeding her more breast milk and formula to compensate and I started putting her down for a nap after two hours of awake time whether she seemed tired or not. This combination seems to have done the trick because the difference in her demeanor is like night and day. She has started taking longer naps, up to 2 hours, a couple times a day, instead of the "20 minute specials" that she had formerly been a fan of. She also started waking earlier (as early as 6am), but the pay off is that she sleeps through the night. Most importantly, she is my sweet baby again. She smiles and laughs (sometimes- she still kind of has the personality of the little girl from the Addams family- is it Wednesday Addams?) and plays with her toys and can actually amuse herself for short periods of time. I have slowly started her back on cereal again today and am cautiously optimistic. Believe me, I thought long and hard about never feeding her solids, not wanting to do anything to tip the delicate balance that is "Good Corinne". But I figured at some point child services would be after me for neglect and malnutrition if my teenage child had never had anything to eat except formula. Anyway, so far so good. KNOCK ON WOOD!

I feel like there's not much else to report on other than that. It really has been all encompassing in our lives this month. I guess the biggest news is that I am trying to start my own mural painting business. I already have a client. I met a woman at a M*** Family event who was looking for someone to paint a mural for her daughter who is a month older than Corinne (this turned out to be S@L, who became a good friend in the year before she moved to California). I guess she surfed the web and couldn't find anyone in our area (can you say "untapped market?! Especially in the very well-to-do neighboring towns) I am going to do a castle/ dragon/ gnome/ fairy kind of theme and am getting $1000 for it- yay! If I can make a go of this I won't need to go back to real work. It would be my dream come true. I am hoping to put together a web site (does anyone have any advice? I know absolutely nothing about this!) and some fliers to give out at the many family events that the M***** Family Association puts on. I'm calling myself "Bouncing Off the Walls", which is pretty clever, if I do say so myself! I'm very excited for it and hope I can actually make a living doing something I love.

Corinne and I are flying to Philadelphia to visit my friend Diane and her daughter (who is 1 1/2) next month. I hope I am not tempting the fates taking her on a plane. At least it's only an hour or so flight, in case she cries the whole way (tell that to the people around me- God, I'll be THAT mother!). This is kind of practice for when we fly to Florida in March to visit Pete's mom and go to Universal (a 3 1/2 hour flight- God help us!) Also Pete is going to New Orleans for a conference in the spring (it was planned before the hurricane. I guess the French Quarter is OK for the most part). I have the option of going with him, but we'll see. New Orleans is not really a baby's town, ya know what I mean? And I don't feel right leaving her for 4 or 5 days yet- she's still too young and too needy, not that there's any shortage of willing and able grandparents to babysit.

Some of the aforementioned photos:

Good times, people!