My grandma once told me the story of the day she met my dad. She was in the hospital recovering from his birth when she heard what sounded like a piglet being slaughtered in the hallway. “Oh, I feel sorry for the mother of THAT baby,” she thought to herself. Right before they handed her the squealing baby in question. (And when they put him in the car, I bet he went “Wee-wee-wee-wee,” all the way home! Bahahaha!)
The evening after Thomas was born, I called Chris post-nap and told him, “So, you know how our one friend’s baby has that really piercing scream that drives you insane?”
“Well, you’re not going to like Thomas very much then. He sounds exactly like an eagle. A really loud eagle.”
I’m pretty sure he chalked up my disillusionment to postpartum depression.
At the hospital, Thomas was happy and fed and snoozy. Of course, nobody believed me about his piercing predatory-bird screech.
Then we brought him home.
“CAWWW! CAWWW! CAAAAWWWWWW!!!”
I checked the bassinet to see if my baby had been replaced by a bald eagle. Nope. That sound came from a human child. MY child.
“Honey, did you hear that?” I asked Chris.
“How could I not?” was his reply.
At first, every time Thomas cried, I would check the TV thinking “The Colbert Report” was coming on. The cries were way too loud and impossibly pitched for a human voicebox to produce. Sometimes, rather than waking to feed the baby, I would lie in bed wondering to myself whether he might sprout wings and fly off to hunt for small rodents. Eventually, however, we got used to the bird-of-prey call that signaled our child’s awakening and preceded every meal.
But right now, Thomas is cutting three teeth, and our house is constantly filled with the insistent screams of our incredibly loud eagle-baby.
“CAAWWW! CAWWWW!” he shrieks from his aerie crib every morning.
“CAWW, CAWW, CAWWWW!” from the high chair as I prepare his food (maybe I should start serving him a meal more befitting a bird of prey, such as field mice?).
“CAWWWW!” he cries, piercing my very brain, as he cuddles into my arms. Neither Mommy snuggles nor Tylenol muffle the ear-rending eagle calls, though. By the end of the day, I need painkillers of my own for the headache one develops after a full day of caring for an incredibly angry, teething eaglet.
And I feel very sorry indeed for the mother of that baby.