Smiles, Cuddles and Instagrammable Moments…Sometimes

February 5, 2014 | Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit

December 31st, 2013: My in-laws graciously offer to watch our eight-month-old, Isla (pronounced eye-la), but my wife Cara and I respectfully decline. Isla has been exhibiting symptoms of a cold, and though we’ve had a few rough nights with very little sleep, last night was pretty good—the little firebug (as I call Isla) went to sleep with no major issues. Cara and I are trying to stay awake for New Years Eve, but who are we kidding? We don’t make it to see midnight on a good night, and we’re not chancing any lost sleep now—who knows what could happen?

It is 10 pm and our heads meet the pillow. A faint noise is building—down the hall, Isla is awake and crying. Figures! I watch Cara rock Isla for half an hour back to sleep, but sure enough she wakes again. And again. “[Expletive],” I later whisper and Cara looks over at me. “The little Firebug is awake…AGAIN.”

Oh, how a “good night’s sleep” had fooled us into thinking we were winning the battle to regain Isla’s “schedule,” disrupted after several days of a cold that Cara is now fighting too. Now it’s 2:18 am and we know what we’re in for but hope it’s an easy transition back to sleep for the Firebug. Hell, I am up to bat so I really hope this goes well.

Let’s just say it didn’t go so well. It went a little something like this, with Cara’s help, and please sing along if you know the words:

Snot…Nose Frida…Snot…..Saline nose drops….Nose Frida….Bottle….VOMIT….Undress the baby….Clean the baby…..Dress the baby….Bottle….Rock the baby….

Somewhere in between screams, and just when I think I’ve got her calmed down and easing back into a sleepy state, the sound of paws on the wood floor approach and the dog(s) open the creaky door to Isla’s room. It’s funny how babies work. You see, they’re extremely perceptive, so of course Isla SHOOTS OPEN her eyes to welcome her furry visitors. “Chase! Mona!” I whisper loudly, “GET OUTTA HERE!” Back to the drawing board I go. Rocking and humming and rocking some more. It is now 3:30 am.

When you’re in this place for several days on end it’s easy to believe it will be this way forever. FOR-EV-ER.

We spent the first week of January wondering if this was a glimpse into 2014.

I try to take stock every day and realize how good we have it. We’re fortunate to have family that supports us tremendously—like, above and beyond, tremendously—and friends who have kiddos of similar ages to vent to and seek advice from (and JBaby . . . obviously). Most importantly, I feel extremely charmed to have a strong, patient, dependable partner—but bloody hell—this !@=&% is hard! It’s the most extraordinary thing in the world that can’t be expressed to someone who hasn’t gone through it, but it’s hard. Babies aren’t all cuddles and smiles, and regardless of what my Instagram feed shows, family life isn’t perfect. (By the way, my name is Bryan and I am addicted to Instagram #IslaReese)

The greatest lesson my strong, beautiful Firebug has taught me so far is that of patience and perseverance. No doubt this is only the beginning. I’m still not as patient as I should be at times, but things really could be a lot worse. When you’re in the thick of a screaming fit because your poor baby can’t breathe out of her nose, or teething pain has her inconsolable, or some random night terror has awoken her, rationale can sometimes slip out that creaky door with the puke-filled laundry. Amiright?

To my Big Daddies out there: do you ever lose your !@=&% over this . . . !@=&%?! Sometimes babies is gonna be babies and there may be no answer, but at least we can talk about it; that helps me immensely. I’d like to hear from more of the dads’ out there. The conversation is happening on the JBaby Facebook Group Page.

P.S. Isla – if and/or when you happen to cruise the web someday and find this post, know that me and your Ma would do this again ten times over. You’ve validated our partnership and we are stronger because of YOU. We thank you and love you more than you’ll ever know.

Bryan Fenster is a Social Media and Content Strategist at the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit and a proud JDaddy

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