The pediatrician smiled. I'm sure she had seen many parents like me. "All the tests came out fine." She placed a hand on my arm. "This is just her personality."
I stared at my daughter Natalie. She was about a month old, and she cried. All the time. She also spit up. All the time. At that moment, she was busy staring at the overhead florescent lights. She seemed like a sweet baby, but I knew the truth: as soon as we returned home, she'd screech and spit up all over me.
"Is it too late to exchange her?" I asked weakly.
The pediatrician chuckled politely. I'm sure she's heard the joke many times too.
My first baby, Tommy, was easy. He only cried when he needed something and as soon as he got it, he was quiet. He would eat and sleep for a solid 3-4 hours when he was born. Natalie? Well, she'd eat, and if you dared to set her down, she'd scream down the house.
She constantly gave me looks like this, looks that told me, "Hey lady, you're doing a sucky job":
For the first two months of her life, someone had to be holding her if you wanted any sleep. Then she graduated to her swing and finally, at around five or six months, she took to her crib. Finally.
Natalie kept me on my toes. She was never afraid to let me know if she was unhappy. One of her first sentences was "I don't YIKE this!" She was two.
She'd climb the baby gates that I'd put up to protect her. I'd find her in the kitchen and she'd smile sweetly at me and go, "Hi."
She'd color on the walls:
She tolerated me, and adored her Daddy:
However, there was something we bonded over. Shopping. She allowed me to dress her in whatever I wanted. While most kids would instantly pull off their hats, we had an understanding.
Today my little girl turns ten. "Two whole hands!" she told me triumphantly. She still doesn't hesitate to let me know when she's annoyed. While she picks out a lot of her clothes these days, she'll still humor me and put on things I pick out:
She still sits in my lap. She still reaches for my hand. She still shouts, "You won't believe what happened in school!" if something big has happened. (Big in the fourth grade is if someone was sent to the office for cursing or if someone farted in class.)
She still prefers her Daddy. She'll shout, "Daddy, my Daddy, my Daddy!" when she spots him during military events. She'll whisper to him, "Don't even leave us again," because we've gone through several deployments, and she doesn't much like being left with me.
It's been an adventure raising her. I'd like to say the frequent crying will be gone, but she's emotional, and I have a feeling the middle and high school years might be hectic.
But at least there won't be spit up.