Truthfully, she’s playing by her own rules and teaching me what it means to be a parent all over again.
After having two miscarriages in a row, I have to admit that I had some seriously romanticized images of what my rainbow baby would be like.
I pictured a cozy motherhood scene, with a chubby cherub baby, sweet afternoons spent snuggling, and picturesque play time with her siblings.
I felt certain that after pining for another pregnancy, our “bookend” baby would easily fit right in — the perfect addition to complete our family.
And while my rainbow baby is the perfect addition, of course — because she’s here, and she’s mine, and I’m so grateful to be her mother — here’s my confession: She also happens to be a bit of a wild child.
Turns out, my romanticized ideas of rainbow baby motherhood have clashed a bit with the reality of parenting this baby who has decided to play by her own rule book since day one.
As soon as this kid could start moving, I was bewildered by her.
Despite the fact that this was actually the 7th time I had been pregnant and the 5th time I was pregnant with a baby big enough to move, I had never experienced anything like how she moved inside of me.
She never stopped and her movements were intense and powerful — constant wide flips, kicks, turns, elbow jabs, somersaults.
Very early on in this pregnancy, I remember watching my stomach in awe, and a touch of fear, and telling my husband that I was certain this baby was going to be different from our others.
“Mark my words,” I told him. “This is going to be a wild child.”
My predictions came to be true when she decided to come 5 weeks early. This thanks to a partial placental abruption that culminated in true terror on my part, when I woke up at 2 a.m. one morning to find blood.
We were 1 hour away from the hospital during both a heat wave and a full moon (I’ll give you one guess how packed the ward was that night!).
After the whirlwind delivery came our first experience with the NICU, where once again this tiny little person continued to defy all my expectations.
Would she breastfeed like all four of my other kids? Ha, not a chance, Mom! This little lady quickly made it known that she would be doing things her own way, thank you very much.
It became a bit of a running joke among the NICU nurses how she would make it clear when she was even mildly disturbed. I could hear her bellowing while I did my 3-minute scrub in and her nurse would be laughing watching us sprint down the hall to get her.
Once home, all the “rules” I had about raising babies (because I was an expert after 4 — or so I thought) quickly flew right out of the window with this child.
Somehow, despite being the one that weighed less than 7 pounds, my sweet little rainbow baby basically became a tiny little boss baby.
She decided that breastfeeding would not work for us. She decided that she would never sleep more than 3 hours at a time. She decided that she would prefer a playpen over a crib because she moves like a caged animal in her sleep (seriously, I’ve never seen anything like it).
As for napping? Well, she decided it’s just not for her, but thanks for trying Mom.
As I write this, my daughter is 10 months old and not much has changed since that day I woke up and wondered what on earth I had gotten myself into. She’s completely different from my other children and truly makes up her own rules.
In some ways, I’m exhausted by this baby who barreled into the world on a blistering hot night under a full moon, totally unconcerned by her mother’s terror.
She has challenged everything I thought I knew about parenting a baby, from feeding to sleeping.
But in every other way — even through my exhaustion, because that every-3-hours-sleep thing has not changed — I am in awe of my daughter.
I am in awe that even before she was born she decided to play by her own rules. I’m in awe that during a time when women have so many expectations heaped upon them, she’s showing a strength — even as a baby — to do things her way.
I’m in awe of how humbled I’ve been through being her mother, all over again.
Honestly, it’s almost laughable how much this little girl has reminded me about how little I actually know about having a baby.
In a lot of ways, I feel like a first-time mom all over again, because well, I have no idea what I’m doing with her — and I’ve realized that it’s OK not to have the answers.
I thought I had things figured out as a mom. I thought for certain I “knew” how she would fit into our family. But she decided to show me a whole new route, and for that, I am grateful.
Because while I may be older, way more tired, and definitely way less cool than when I was a first-time parent, my rainbow baby has been a reminder that as a parent, sometimes all we can do is sit back and let our kids take the lead — and hope for the best along the way.
Chaunie Brusie is a labor and delivery nurse turned writer and a newly minted mom of five. She writes about everything from finance to health to how to survive those early days of parenting when all you can do is think about all the sleep you aren’t getting. Follow her here.