The first time Cynthia held Connor in her arms, she sobbed.
He'd been born seven weeks early. Cynthia remembered the panic, the fear when her water broke, how the only thought that played through her mind was "it's too early, it's too early". The rest was all a blur; the rush to the hospital just before midnight, going into labor, the delivery, how her son was whisked away to the neonatal infant care unit before she had a chance to even take a good look at him.
She and Larry had gone to see him in the morning, and she'd cried when she saw how tiny he was, looking almost lost in the tangle of wires and machines that were keeping him alive. He weighed just above four pounds, and neither she nor Larry could believe that anybody could be so small.
"He's perfect," Cynthia beamed, as she hugged her little bundle of joy. "He's already so beautiful." Connor was still small, his face bright red after having screamed his little lungs out. He had several wisps of wavy brown hair, and his eyes, now closed as he dozed in his mother's arms, were a light blue flecked with brown, which Cynthia found made his gaze all the more endearing.
Larry admired the strong grip Connor had on his mother's pinky finger, even in his sleep. "He's going to the best Little League player once he's old enough." He had so many plans for Connor, they were going to have the best father-and-son times together, going to baseball games, fishing, and golfing.
And they were going to have the perfect loving family.
But as it turned out, parenting would be a lot harder than either of them realized.
It didn't take them too long to find out that while Connor was a pretty easygoing baby when it came to feeding and playtimes, he absolutely abhorred bedtimes and naptimes. He would scream his protests out as long as he could, and no amount of singing, cajoling, or rocking would do any good.
"Let him cry, don't keep picking him up, he'll learn to fall asleep eventually if you don't interfere," Larry said, as eight o' clock struck and Cynthia carried Connor, struggling and crying, up to the nursery.
"He's having trouble getting to sleep, I need to rock him for a while." She replied, checking his diaper and then buttoning up his onesie.
"Mother never rocked any of us, we all went to sleep by ourselves," Larry argued.
"I can't bear to hear him cry!" Cynthia said, as she gently rocked Connor, whose howls only seemed to increase in volume.
Larry sighed, and headed downstairs to his study, hoping to get away from the noise and finish some work. Cynthia tried lullaby after lullaby, bedtime story after bedtime story, before Connor finally fell asleep, having exhausted himself after over an hour of crying. She gave a sigh before retreating to the kitchen, where she made herself a mug of hot chocolate. Propping her head up tiredly with her left arm, she sipped the steaming hot drink and stared blankly at the countertop.
From down the hallway, a door opened and shut, then footsteps came up the stairs. Larry shuffled into the kitchen. She looked up at him. "Is he asleep?" he asked.
"You've got to be firmer with him, this can't go on every night… It's tiring you out, it tires me out. It's not good for him either. We've got to let him learn how to fall asleep by himself, you need to leave him alone when he cries."
Cynthia groaned, setting the cup down. They'd been having this discussion every night. Connor was barely two months old and every bedtime was already a battle of the wills that was beginning to wear her down. "I can't bear to hear him cry and not do anything about it! I'm his mother!"
Larry frowned. "Cynthia, I'm his father. You know how much I love him too, I don't like to hear him cry like this either. But this is for his own good, you can't let him think he can boss you around."
"He's not bossing me around!" she protested, draining the cup and rinsing it under the tap.
"You're letting him control you, look at you—you're exhausted from all of this; all the singing, the rocking, the soothing."
She knew there were bags under her eyes, she couldn't deny the exhaustion that she was feeling now. But she shook her head and made her way upstairs. She didn't want to argue, she was already so tired. "Let's go to bed."
"Not yet," he said, turning to go back to his study. "There's still some emails I need to reply to."
The clock struck ten. In silence, she watched him go. She opened the nursery door to assure herself that Connor was still sleeping, then retired to the bedroom. The house was quiet at last, but she felt too drained to truly enjoy it.
His loathing of sleeping aside, Connor was a relatively cheerful baby, always happy to smile at both strangers and friends. Cynthia and Larry couldn't be prouder. Larry especially, was ecstatic at having a son; an avid lover of sports, he'd bought sports-related clothes, bedsheets, and even books for the nursery as soon as they'd found out the baby would be a boy.
Cynthia herself read stacks of books on parenting, how to take care of your baby, how to be a good mother, and more—some purchased from the bookshop, others borrowed from the library or friends. The fact that he was a preemie only increased the protectiveness (and worry) that she felt for him. As Connor grew up and began eating different kinds of dishes, she spent hours in the kitchen trying out various baby food recipes—half of which he threw to the floor in disgust, much to her chagrin.
Once, she read that classical music was beneficial for a baby's brain; the next day, she came home with a dozen CDs of classical music, all by different composers. While Larry had scoffed, Connor fell in love with them. Albeit being just seven weeks old, his eyes lit up at the first note, and then excitedly started kicking his legs and wiggling his arms in some sort of 'dance', causing both his parents to crack up.
"Look at that kick," Larry pointed out. "He's going to be so good at sports when he's older!"please leave a review or feel free to drop me a message on tumblr, i'm thewickedverkaiking... constructive criticism/tips to improve are always appreciated also, feel free to leave prompts, i'll try to incorporate them into future chapters :))