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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, April 5, 2009

It's the best of times, not the easiest

By Monica Quock Chan

"Those are the best years," my neighbor sighs wistfully, referring to my infant and toddler.

"But what about all of the diapers and the sleepless nights?" I ask.

"I guess I forgot about those," he admits.

He is not the only one to suffer a memory lapse. Others have told me the same thing. And maybe this disremembering has a biological purpose; otherwise, parents might never have subsequent children.

Still, a reality check is in order. Since I've written about what I enjoy most about the baby stage, here is my take on what's not to love:

Physical toll. After enduring pregnancy, labor and delivery, my body feels like it's been through more than enough. But then there is the postpartum recovery period, the nonintuitive breastfeeding, and waking up every few hours for months. After all this, there is still the challenge of losing the remaining pregnancy weight. Will my body ever be the same as it was before?

Crying. My daughter once bawled for three hours and I thought that was bad. Then, I had my son. In the early months, he cried about as much as a colicky baby. We attempted nearly everything to comfort him, and if he finally went down we would tiptoe around the house so as not to wake him. Despite our efforts, we would often end up like this: hubby with the pillow over the head, me with the earplugs inserted, toddler in the other room (the only one really getting any sleep), and baby wailing interminably.

Being housebound. Between the baby's frequent feedings, the toddler's potty training, and all of their naps, not to mention the seemingly interminable time it takes to get them ready to go out of the house, it is no surprise that all nonessential activities have come to a screeching halt.

Safety. Grabbing hands, curious mouthing, and all-too-quick crawling means that we have to constantly keep an eye on our keiki. One day we were startled to find a bright red spot in our daughter's poop. Thankfully it was merely paper that she had swallowed. More recently, our son truly scared us by almost choking. A few back blows produced the body of a cheetah sticker that his toddler sister had been playing with. I never did find the cheetah's head.

Lack of comprehension. Although infants can pick up a lot from body language and tone of voice, my son won't truly understand why, for example, he needs a flu shot, or why he can't play with that fun-looking electrical wire. Likewise there are many times when I can't understand baby-ese; is "ga ga" different from "ba ba"?

All in all, though, it's a blessing to have an infant in the house again. Just remind me to pull out this list whenever someone asks me about having baby No. 3.

Reach Monica Quock Chan at islandlife@honoluluadvertiser.com.