Baby + empathy: a package deal

Some sounds in life make you want to run away as fast as you can to shelter and safety. Air raid sirens. Packs of snarling, rabid rottweilers. Large explosions. Top 40 radio. And for me, belly bulging, due date approaching – babies.

Aside from anticipating labour pain, cracked nipples, non-sleeping zombiedom and having no more fun at least until retirement, one of my biggest pregnancy concerns was how repulsed I was to the sound of crying. How could I possibly be a good mother, I wondered, when the presence of babies made me break out in hives? Could I build a soundproof box with breathing holes and a swinging door for food and water? More important, should it be for me or the kid?

Every time I was faced with one of those noisy, squished up little creatures, I would force a grin onto my face and exclaim, “Oh, how adorable!”, hoping I looked genuine. I was even one of those nasty childless people that would give dirty looks to infants on planes. I have no escape! How dare you? Do you realize I am going to have nightmares for two weeks because of you?

Life is different now. Sometimes, when Evan really works himself into a lather, I hold on to him for a moment to watch him yell. There’s something about it that is the essence of life, strength and health. Go, kid, go!

The quick intake of breath, the quivering chin and downcast lower lip of the pre-emptive pout, the squinted-up eyes, the glorious 'Whaaa!'. It’s a whole new language. Like the thousand different words Inuit people have for snow, there is no single cry.

There is the I’m Bored cry, the I’m Not Awake Yet But When I Am, I Am Going To Be Really Pissed Off cry, the I Can Smell That Milky Lady And I Know She’s Multi-Tasking And Making Me Wait cry, the How Dare You Laugh At Me cry, the Teething Sucks And I Don’t Care What You Say About Corn On The Cob cry.

And my all-time favourite: the I Need My Mommy cry. It fills me up with all things good. And no all-over body rash in sight.

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