Their son does not like anything the man does for him. He hates having his diaper changed, cries like he is being killed. When the man goes to give the boy his first bath, the man’s mother in law insists, “Babies love their baths!” But Grant does not: he screams bloody murder through it. On another night, Grant cries from 2 am to 7 am, then falls asleep just as the man needs to get up for the day to work.
“Sleep when the baby sleeps,” people tell the young parents.
Brilliant idea if you don’t have to buy groceries, go to work, shop for food, read the mail, or do any number of other things to run a household.
At his first doctor’s appointment after coming home, Grant is diagnosed as failing to thrive. That is, he is not getting enough of his mother’s breast milk to grow. The doctor tells them that they must supplement his breast feeding with extra food or he may need to be admitted to the hospital. Of course, this makes both parents feel like they are failing in their first and simplest responsibility. So now, his mother attempts to breast feed him, and then the man takes pumped breast milk in a bottle and works it around Grant’s mouth, trying to get extra ounces down him. Grant does not like this either, especially when he is tired. The couple are up every hour or two all night fighting this battle.
A week into this routine, the man is sleep-deprived and nearly delirious at times. His parents call to check on him, and he speaks with his father.
“Dad, this is awful. I had no idea it would be this hard.”
“Huh. Really? What’s happening?”
“He doesn’t sleep at night. He hates everything I do for him from bathing to feeding to changing clothes. He wakes up at the littlest things. He has to be in motion constantly to sleep. I don’t know how I’m going to get anything done.”
“Wow,” his father says. “I’m really sorry, Son. I just don’t remember it being that hard.”
A few minutes later, his mother gets on the phone. The man recounts the conversation with his father and says, “Mom, I just can’t believe how hard this is. I wonder what’s wrong with me. Dad says he doesn’t remember it being that hard. Was I an easier kid?”
His mother snorts. “Absolutely not. Your baby is as normal as the next. Your dad doesn’t remember it being hard because he didn’t do anything.”
The man laughs.
A few nights later, it is 3:30 am. Grant has been sleeping in a swing for a a couple of hours. He stirs and begins to cry. The man sleepily arises and goes to the swing. He lifts the 11 lb boy out and smells quickly–yes, he needs to be changed. So he brings the boy into the next room, starts to change him, and cringes as the baby begins to wail. He cleans him up quickly, snaps up the onesie, and brings him into his mother. Her bare breast is ready on the bed, and the man presses Grant up against it and lies next to him. Soon, the boy is nursing happily, Lauren is sleeping, and the man is lying awake.
The man studied literature in college. He is well versed in literary theory. Now, he thinks of Freudian theory. Freud’s theories have largely been discredited, but the man props himself up on an elbow and thinks about this. The baby lies directly between him and his wife, nuzzling her breast. Anytime the man tries to help the baby, Grant screams and fights. It is so bad that the man feels insane, wonders if he will ever sleep at night again, wonders how he will even get through the next week much less the years to come. And he owes all that to this tiny, 11 lb thing that is fully occupying his wife. Freud discredited? No, the man thinks. Freud might actually be right, and the man might be the only person on earth who knows it–his own son is already trying to kill him and have his wife all to himself.