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Exit light. Enter…Toddler.

When I went into the hospital for Bun Bun’s birth, it was cold and repulsive –the dregs of winter. When I emerged, it was glorious spring. When I went into the hospital for Bunlet’s birth, Bun Bun was a glorious baby. When I emerged, she was…I mean, I love her very much, but a…TODDLER.

She had her very first Toddler Meltdown the day we came home (writhing on the ground + screaming). I observed in amazement. WOW! Tantrums are some crazy shit! I figured her routine had been massively disrupted, and she’d bounce back to her normal self. She’s usually cheerful and easily soothed, and yes, I’ve had need to throw on the Ma Phones many times, but it was always an event that felt atypical. Now it appears that it may be typical. The past two weeks have involved an awful lot of screaming and writhing. Like, almost non-stop on some days. It may be that she’s an entirely new Bun.

I am left wondering what the FUCK has happened. Maybe her toddler switch just got flipped. I hear it happens that way sometimes. One day, baby, the next day, toddler. But I’m not sure.

First of all, the timing is mighty suspicious. During my pregnancy, people kept asking me whether I’d told Bun Bun that she was going to have a sibling, and how she felt about it. And I’d think dude, she’s going to be fifteen months old, she’ll have no clue and then say something polite. I figured she’d be curious about Bunlet, but largely unmoved. And that’s certainly how it appears. Her interactions with her brother have been gentle and careful, though of course I have to be vigilant because she’s not exactly in control of her motor cortex at all times. But pre-brother she’s sweetness and light and post-brother she’s a horror? Is it a sibling thing?

This picture is totally not representative. But funny. And sad.

Second, because I am not allowed to do anything at all while I heal, her father is caring for her full-time. It’s been really hard on him to have this sudden change in her. And really hard on me to have to listen to her screaming, and to listen to him doing all those things we do when we’re Parents on the Verge of Losing our GODDAMNED TEMPERS. (Setting the child down and leaving the room as quickly as possible. Aborting some activity and introducing Sudden Early Naptime. Speaking through tightly clenched teeth. Those sorts of things.) It’s horrible to listen to, because I feel so badly for both of them. So about a week after my surgery, I started trying to help out with her. And not just because of all the screaming, also because I miss being with her. It sucks not being able to put your child to bed, or pick her up, or give her a bath. And then I overdid it, as they say, and my guts were like Hey there, do you want us to end up all infected and pustulent and hospitalized? Because if not, you had better stop fucking with our healing process. You know that you have HOLES in us, right? And I was like, Sorry guts. I will now lie very still for several days while the house becomes increasingly filthy and my husband and I snap at each other all the time because we are both very frayed.

ANYWAY. My point was that maybe she’s so insane lately in part because she’s not getting her quota of mama care? Or is that just me being all self important?

So. I am really hoping it’s not the toddler switch. Next week Mr. Bunny goes back to work, and I get to somehow manage all the children while unable to lift one of them. So it sure would be awesome if Bun Bun would revert to being a baby. She can be a toddler LATER.

30 Comments Post a comment
  1. Heaven help you. Your Toddlerina has arrived.

    September 7, 2012
  2. I”m betting it’s a toddler thing. Bee went through this around 15 months. He never threw his food or melted down ever before. I was so proud to say, no he doesn’t do that. And the other Moms would say,”oh he will” but I refused to believe it. Now I believe it. I’m guessing Bun Bun’s routine being changed a bit and not having as much time with you does have a part in this, but I’m also guessing she flipped her switch to toddler mode. Look out! My Mom observed Bee as being in his terrible two’s a few weeks ago. She said he’s hitting them early. I will say that getting him naps whenever he starts going down the horrendous road helps. Though all of this being said, I hope she reverts to baby mode or at least hits the age of three before this toddler thing becomes an all day every day on your watch.

    September 7, 2012
  3. There’s a very good chance that this will pass soon, at least based on anecdotal experience. When my daughter was about 14 months we began sharing our nanny, who has cared for our daughter alone since she was four months old, with a four-month-old baby. Our daughter went from being a sweetie to acting the way your daughter seems to be. Now, a month later, our girl has decided she is the boss of the baby. She hands out burp cloths, diapers, his blanket, and tells him shhh and hands him toys when he cries. She just needed some time to get used to the whole thing.

    I think Bun Bun will adjust very soon. So sorry you don’t get to pick her up. That sucks so much. Here’s to a speedy recovery. Bunlet is so lovely.

    September 7, 2012
  4. SRB #

    It could be the Toddler Switch, but I am hoping that once you get back to your old self, you will be able to re-route the circuit somewhat. Hopefully enough to divert complete nuclear meltdowns.

    And I’m sorry that I laughed at the picture. I quickly took it back when I realized that this is shortly going to be my life. Get it together Bun Bun, for MY sake!

    September 7, 2012
  5. Louisa #

    Oh god I hope you have some help next week! I unfortunately have no direct experience on this topic but my BFF (fertile whore) does and yes there was a very significant uptick in screaming tantrums when her second child arrived, seems to have simmered down now (second one is 6 months old). Hope this is short lived!

    September 7, 2012
  6. Totally normal. I hope for your sake it’ll switch back to normal in a couple weeks, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. My theory is that people either get a Terrible Twos or a Totally Fucking Awful Threes (but usually not both). With Bug, though he was older, when Tatoe was born, his tantrums seemed (SEEMS!) mainly based in the fact that he’s not the center of our universes any more. There is a baby, who is wee-er and cuter and needier and who is taking up all of Mama’s time and who doesn’t know how to wait.

    I spent a lot of that phase shut in my bedroom, which has a doorknob cover on the outside, while Bug screamed his fucking head off. He screamed for six hours once. Not all at once.

    (P.S. Sooner or later she will whack her brother, HARD, with something, and you will be really surprisingly angry with her. Fair warning. It will probably happen more than once. I’m sorry.)

    I would guess it’ll take a few months at least for her to get used to this new little person; he will be a tad less high-maintenance then too. And after he starts crawling, she may realize they can actually play together and he will adore her and follow her around.

    There’s a book called “Where Did That Baby Come From“. I recommend reading it purely for comic relief.

    September 7, 2012
    • I am grateful for the warning about how mad I’ll get when Bun Bun hurts Bunlet. It’s true that some kid pulling on Bun Bun’s leg made me super mad, so it will certainly be interesting to see what happens when one baby hurts the other.

      September 11, 2012
  7. Nicole #

    Yeah.. good luck on that one. I bet it is a toddler and new sib thing. My little one gets seriously pissed when I hold my bigger one now. I also have one very hard older child. So maybe you will get lucky! Last night my 5 year old, had a screaming fit for 45 min, while she was in her room, then she passed out from 5 to 630 woke up even worse, which i did not think was possible. THen little one is freaking out over who knows what.Her toy won’t do something and I have no idea what the something is. Anyway. it sucks sometimes but the good times are so good that it makes up for it. kinda.

    September 7, 2012
  8. I am really sorry that Bun Bun is having freak outs, and really glad you have your ma phones at the ready. Also glad you have guts that speak up when they need to.
    I am not sure I can comment on this post without coming across as a snooty child psychologist who doesn’t have children of her own. It’s all true of course, but I usually work hard to avoid coming across as such. From over here (which could be very different than from over where you are),I am not thinking it’s a toddler thing as much as it’s adjustment. 15-month-olds don’t have a lot of word (she says to the psychologist-linguist), and so she’s gotta let you know she’s not super comfortable with the change – even if that change is a baby brother who is cute beyond belief. I think you’ll get your sweetie back, perhaps with an added touch of feistiness for good measure. I say give it a bit of time, and put a helmet on her maybe so she doesn’t writhe herself into a concussion.

    September 7, 2012
  9. Metallica? I like it. Aberrant musical love of mine. Reminds me of college (yeah, I’m that old).

    Bun Buns deterioration is a tough one, and I am totally making this shit up. But since I do have a toddler, I’m pretty much an expert on all children younger than him. Or something like that.

    I actually have not found that toddlerdom was like an on-off switch with B, but more like a gradual sinking into whining and bad behavior (throwing a plastic turtle at his mother’s head last evening, as an example), with an occasional piercing scream thrown in for good measure. So I’m going to call this one as a “she misses her mommy” thing. Because you were gone for a few days, and now you can’t pick her up, and so she’s probably freaking out and wondering if you will never pick her up again. Once you can do what you used to do, I bet she calms down.

    Bunlet is very cute. And despite the howling face, Bun Bun looks adorable. Great curly hair!

    September 7, 2012
  10. 1. Your conversations with your gut are hilarious.

    2. That is one chunk o’ cute baby!

    September 7, 2012
  11. George was a precocious toddler and at 23 months when his brother arrived he was a master toddler (now he is working on his ph.d.). From what I’ve noticed, we had more tantrums when 1- routine was changed; 2- daddy was home all day and in charge of toddler routine; 3- mummy was ignoring the toddler (as in toddler no longer centre of univers). Eating got weird, writhing on the floor dramatic (after carefully sitting himself down), the works.
    It gets better.
    Of course, you’ll still get days when you’d rather poke out your eyes with a fork than be in charge for one more minute. But they are compensated by sweet, easier days. They fly by – remember that. And repeat to yourself “tomorrow will be better’ because it always is. I can’t say anything about the day after that, but bad days never come in pairs. πŸ™‚

    September 7, 2012
  12. Sending you hope for a very quick phase… Thinking of you!

    September 7, 2012
  13. That picture is awesome, I just have to say. So, with the timing, yah, I’m guessing this is a “there’s a new creature in my house and it’s name is baby and what does that make ME” transitional thing for bunbun… which means it should get better. BUT, we had our first huge-ass toddler meltdown last week (that was so monumental and weird and new that I actually laughed at my own child because WTH am I supposed to do with THAT! Answer: I took her outside to look at the trees because it’s the only thing that would calm her down). So 15-18 months seems pretty right-on for the beginning of toddler-ness. Hang in there! (PS Bunlet the sonlet is ADORABLE!)

    September 7, 2012
    • PPS I will now have that Metallica song in my head for days. Thank you for that (no really, because before I had the “Clean up” song in my head, so this is an improvement…)

      September 7, 2012
  14. Misfit #

    Be good to that gut. Being thrice sliced is a burden to bear. I suspect that the attention has shifted and Bun Bun is feeling the lesser of those right now. Ma Phones might be in order for a while until the pecking order is established. Hoping that is a week two and not a full thrust into toddlerhood.

    Gorgeous bunlet and sweet bun bun will love that picture one day.

    September 8, 2012
    • Misfit #

      Me heart Metallica. I lived in el cerrito, you know, not far from where that all started.

      September 8, 2012
  15. “And really hard on me to have to listen to her screaming, and to listen to him doing all those things we do when we’re Parents on the Verge of Losing our GODDAMNED TEMPERS. ”

    Oh, this struck such a chord with me. Any time that I’m sick, I hate listening to the meltdown moments, knowing that my husband needs to hand the child over to somebody else and knowing that that’s not an option. It’s one of the worst parent/spouse feelings.

    As far as Bun-Bun goes… I’m in agreement with many other commenters that she’s in toddler-dom now, perhaps precipitated by the baby’s arrival. But remember that fifteen months is not the terrible twos! Which isn’t to say that her tantrums aren’t dreadful, but I think that *they* are likely to be more of a phase / adjustment issue. One year old (and the early twos) is, in my opinion, an utterly delightful age.

    In the meantime, hang in there, and don’t feel too guilty if you compromise some of your parenting principles in order to survive. We did survival mode for the first eight months of my daughter’s life and then started hauling back my son into our preferred realms of discipline, and it was (mostly) just fine. I can also promise that marital conversations improve too.

    The picture is absolutely gorgeous. Poor Bun-bun! She’ll figure out how to adapt sooner or later. Hopefully sooner.

    September 8, 2012
  16. PS Also, what happened with us, so might also happen with Bun Bun is that while I was all tied up with my infant daughter, my son started preferring his Daddy (who was now much more fun to be around). It was a very gradual process, but it made things easier when it came about. Downside is that he *still* prefers his Daddy, which doesn’t bother me unduly, but sometimes I want to go and play with him, and instead he insists on having Daddy.

    September 8, 2012
  17. Oak #

    Sigh. Two things that are decidedly horrid to have at the same time: a toddler and a csection. I made it three weeks before lifting the giant blond child which I thought was impressive although due solely to the fact I was completely reliant on other people. This too shall pass. Bun bun will return to you and all will be right. πŸ™‚ I hope.

    September 9, 2012
  18. That is an awesome picture, one that you will laugh about for many years to come.

    September 10, 2012
  19. I have to admit that I laughed at the poor picture of Bun Bun. I am sure it’s partly the drastic change in her life and, perhaps, also a bit of the toddler switch. Sofia has started giving us a small taste of the tantrums and, man, do they suck or what. I can only imagine how that must be when you are also in the land of sleep deprivation and painful guts. Hang in there. I hear it gets better. It must, otherwise there would be no families with more than 2 children, right? (Did I make you cringe by even thinking about that?!?!?)

    September 10, 2012
  20. Ugh. Bun Bun is balking at her new roommate taking up all mama’s time. The headphones will come in handy while Bun Bun figures out that she actually likes Bunlet. Until then, take care of that gut of yours … and enjoy the blissful silence of the ma phones!

    September 10, 2012
  21. Rhianna #

    No real wisdom here, only a heap of nervousness and anxiety about what’s in store for us next year. I’m quaking in my nursing bra, yo.

    (My inexperience with simultaneously parenting a toddler and a newborn obviously withstanding–her behavior does sound du jour for toddlerhoood. Often with Arlo I am able to preempt what I affectionately refer to as TODDLER MUTINY when he starts throwing up all the gang signs, but how in the holy shit is anyone supposed to be on top of all of that when you’re managing not only the needs of two helpless creatures, but also your own??? I am counting on you to pave the way to insight for me.)

    September 10, 2012
  22. Jen #

    I can’t add anything that hasn’t been said. Could be an adjustment phase that settles, could be a launch into a new era that eventually settles. You see the end pattern for both, right? I think their temperaments are like elastic and usually snap back into something more manageable once they’ve finished stretching to the limit for a bit.

    With just single digit weeks to go, I am shitting my pants over how this will play out in my house.

    September 12, 2012
  23. I love that picture, while simultaneously cringing for what it says about your life right now. It seems like everyone (you, Mr. Bun, BunBun) is adjusting to life with Bunlet. That sounds hard (especially with the c-section thrown in to get you bonus points for extra challenge). But it also means that things will settle into the New Normal at some point in the near future. So even if some of BunBun’s toddlerness sticks around, you’ll all be in a better place to deal with it. Plus, there’s some really fun parts about all of the cool new things that toddlers can do.

    September 12, 2012
  24. Joy #

    Oh..I am fearful of that toddler switch getting flipped. I bet she is missing time with you and adjusting to the new normal like you all are. Toddler and a newborn… I wish you patience and strength friend.

    September 13, 2012
  25. Oh Bunny. I’m so late in catching up with your news but am just so proud of you and the arrival of bunlet…. HE IS PERFECT.
    Xx much love to you.

    September 13, 2012
  26. I’m glad to be reading these posts in reverse order to know that Bun Bun has gone back to being sweet all the time. Bunlet is BEAUTIFUL!

    September 15, 2012

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