He wakes up in our bed this morning, where he’s been since right about 1am. He looks at me, as he always does, as if surprised that I’m there. “Mama!” he looks over my shoulder to the other mound in the covers, “Dada!”
But after that instant of surprised glee, my son’s face changes. He grabs at his cheeks, still round and squishy from babyhood. “Toof?” he laments, “boo-boo!” The pain is obvious in his face.
I noticed the perpetrator last night: his first incisor just biding its time under the thinnest layer of gum tissue, confirming my suspicions. It’s moving at a glacial pace into my son’s mouth. A tiny, sharp scrap of bone causing all sorts of mayhem in our house.
Teething is excruciating.
On a little boy’s mouth. On a mother’s heart.
The sleeplessness, the dinnertime refusals, the screaming bloody murder at teeth-brushing time (no matter how gentle I brush), the cries from the nursery in the wee hours and the tossing and turning beside me that follow, the constant (constant) appeals for “dodgy” (which, somehow, is the word my baby has come up with for nursing). These all build up to a fuzzy aching head and a mountain of frustration that I can’t deny.
But the small voice calling “mama!” in the middle of the night, and telling me “Toof? Boo-boo!” and the pudgy hand grabbing at the side of his face – these crumble the mountain into boulders of mommy-guilt that bury me. How could I be impatient when my tiny, perfect, sweet little boy needs comfort. When he’s in pain?
I’m not sure I’ll ever conquer the mountain of frustration for good, or stop the boulders of guilt and self-recrimination that roll down its slopes and beat me up from time to time. They say you’re more relaxed as a mother with the second baby, and maybe that’s true. I’ll know when I get there. For now, I guess we’re both still cutting our teeth. It’s a slow and agonizing process sometimes.
For now I can only hold him tight, rock him longer, nurse him when he needs it, and wait for these measures to ease both our hurts and soothe our raw places.
Temporarily. There are three more of these suckers in there.