I can appreciate the primal relationship between human infant and caregivers. It’s a very simple equation: babies are cute so their parents won’t be tempted to put them out at night with the cat. Cuteness is a survival tactic.
It makes sense that sick babies are even more cute and pathetic. Little stuffy nosed mouth-breathers. They make cute noises and cuddle up to your chest and make you feel needed. You can’t help but be nurturing. Except when they keep you up all night.
And I’m not talking about the normal up-all-night where a baby wakes, eats, enjoys a sleepy diaper change, and then dozes back off – repeated every 3 hours or so. As the mother of a 4-month-old, that’s a perfect night’s rest. I’m talking about a night where the poor thing can’t breathe when she’s flat on her back, so she wakes and cries every 30 minutes. I think sleep deprivation experiments have been done on people under these same conditions, and the subjects soon went mad and tried to kill each other. But they were too tired, so they just swatted and cursed.
I went to bed a sane, loving, nurturing mother. By 3:30 a.m., I was none of these. I wanted to sleep. The only thing that saved Cally from being put out with the cat was her poor, pathetic, stuffy whimper. And the fact that when I stroked her cheek, she reached up and gripped my finger.
That’s really what it’s all about anyway. The baby can poop on fresh sheets, spit up on dry-clean-only shirts, and fidget all night long. When she grins and coos at me in the morning, I don’t mind any of it. Now I know why my mom always said to me, "It’s a good thing you’re cute…"