There’s nothing like a baby laugh to melt away the day’s stress.
Today was one hell of a day. Just non-stop juggling at work. I got home at 7:30 and was still working via text and email, during dinner; hardly a minute to look the kid in the eye and say, “How was your day?”
Finally I put down my phone and nuzzled, bounced and nibbled the little guy, though. It was cathartic. He’s my therapy. He’s wonderful. Laughing, and laughing. Cory saying, “That’s no way to calm him down before bed!” We played the “I love you… So so much… I love you… So so much… So so much SO SO MUCH SOSOMUCHSOSOMUCHSOSOMUCH!!!” that always gets him going. Baby laughs to the rescue. The day dissolved with squeals of joy.
And then a little cuddle time. I curled him up in a ball in my arms, smelled his coconut oil after-bath smell, kissed him on his wispy blonde hair and said, “Oh, Henry. I just really love you.”
He stuck his fingers in my nose, put a fistful of my hair in his mouth, and said “Burgle bah.”
Parenting feels like a train I just can’t catch. The familiar scene where the hero races up on his horse and stre-e-e-etches out for the railing on the caboose to grab hold and triumphantly board the train. It’s going so fast, cacti whooshing by in the background scenery, hearts pounding, blood rushing, the horse’s hooves pounding as its mane whips in the wind and its muscles strain to go faster, then even faster – but that moment of triumph and relief where you hop on and can breathe for a split-second before saving the day just never comes for me.
That second I think I’m finally up to speed and am reaching for the train, it speeds up again and eludes my outstretched fingers, again and again. Times I try to swerve and head it off at the pass, it takes a different direction, or just races by before I can grab hold. It’s impossible to stay ahead of, and impossible to catch. I just keep running.
But, you know… I get tired.
Henry will be six months old on Friday.
Suddenly he can sit up on his own, kind of. We should probably start to give him foods to try. He can wriggle around and end up feet away from where you put him down. He reaches for things he wants and grunts and pouts if he doesn’t get it. He doesn’t want to cuddle as often as he wants to stand. He picks things up off the floor. I haven’t seen it for sure yet myself, but babysitters swear he’s mimicking their sounds and facial expressions. He’s getting a tooth. He’s just so much more alert.
I feel like I missed something. Maybe I had my nose glued to my iPhone or sometime during my workday while he was with a sitter, he grew right up. It feels like I’ve missed weeks of development. Months, even. He’s not the same baby I knew.
I mean, he is. He smiles when he catches your eye. He loves getting his neck gobbled or legs nibbled (I’ve decided to call it “monstering”). He holds onto my necklaces or my ponytail. He tickles my side while he’s nursing. But there’s something new every day. I was shocked when I went to carefully prop him up in a sitting position on Saturday and he held it for so much longer than I expected. When did he learn that? Where was I? Have I been ignoring him?
He’s growing and learning so quickly. He’s a new baby every day. Before I know it, he’ll be a boy and not a baby. And then a man and not a boy. The train’s going faster and faster and faster. I’m never gonna catch this thing.
While I thought I was doing a good job of cherishing the moment, instead it passed me by. He’s so big already. Not a floppy baby any more. I’m not ready for this.
Not that it matters. The train rushes on.
And here we go. I thought he was down for a nap, but he’s up and noisy. Still haven’t caught my breath.
As I read yet another post on Facebook about abortion laws, the thought occurs to me again. I try to enjoy the moment. Live in right now, where everything is lovely, people he knows are bursting with love for him and the only pain he feels is from gas bubbles. But with every news story, there’s that thought.
How do I tell my son about war? About hunger? Rape? How do I tell him about school shootings, about horrible deaths, about people forced to do unspeakable things? And never mind that… How do I tell him about heartbreak, and bullies, and disappointment? What about climate change, landfills and extinct species?
I don’t want to. Myself, at the ripe age of 30 – Even I don’t want to know about it. I stick my head in the sand more often than not. I avoid the news, most of the time. I don’t like to acknowledge that these things exist.
My theory is that if I allow myself to truly realize how awful things are, I’ll probably sink into a depression I’d never get out of, crawling into bed and never getting up ever again. So I just refocus. I narrow my scope and look at the things that I can change on my own. I try to live greener and strive toward a cruelty-free and ethical lifestyle. I try to be active in my community, to feel connected and to create and encourage positivism. With Advokate, I feel like I’m helping the little guy by facilitating success for small business. It’s what I can do, and it makes me able to deal with living in a world alongside the bad stuff.
I remember being very young, under the age of five because my memory of this contemplation takes place in the living room of my old house – and thinking, no. Awful sicknesses and death can’t happen. It can’t exist. It’s not real. Monsters under the bed aren’t real… so this can’t be, either. My parents wouldn’t let that happen. God wouldn’t let that happen.
Not to good people.
I have never seen the end of Little Shop of Horrors because I am so upset by the fact that the plant eats an innocent person. Another memory from before I was five, and I’ve tried to watch the movie several times since, each with the same refusal to finish it after that point.
I don’t like thinking that bad things happen for no good reason.
And I don’t know how to tell my son that.
Luckily, I don’t have to, for now. I can just look in his eyes and enjoy his innocence. And take some solace in knowing that I will raise him to be one of the good guys.
Henry is bundled up next to me on the couch. He’s looking at me and sucking his pacifier. I know he’s sleepy because he’s been dozing on and off since 7. It’s 8:30 now and we usually put him to bed at 9. And this is one of so many examples of my holding two opposites in my head.
Am I ignoring him by typing this, or am I being a good mom for writing things down for him later in a moment while he’s mellow? Both.
Do I want him to be asleep so I can have a moment to myself, or do I want to treasure every waking moment of his life? Both.
I was thinking earlier about how I can’t wait to see what his face looks like when he is older, or to know what questions he’ll have about the world, or what philosophies he’ll invent or adopt, or what his little-boy laugh will sound like. But I also can’t bear to think of him not needing me any longer – to feed him, hold him upright, walk his little legs around, explain what things are, entertain him.
My dad used to goof around with us saying, “Come here! Go away! Come here! Go away!” It was hilarious. That’s what I’m feeling now, though.
When somebody else is holding him, I want nothing more than to be holding him myself. When I’m holding him, my back aches after a few minutes and I want nothing more than to hand him off to someone and have my hands (and time) free.
When I’m working, I feel bad that I’m not with Henry. When I’m with Henry, I feel bad that I’m not working.
When he’s not making noises or engaging with me, I want to get him talking and looking in my eyes and I’ll make noises to try and catch his attention. And right now he’s talking to the ceiling fan and I’m on the laptop.
Poor kid, with all these mixed messages. I’m wondering if this is always going to be there, though. The bittersweetness of momming. Always fighting with itself.
Oh! And here are pictures from our 32-week ultrasound earlier this week. Baby A-A is breech right now so I’ve been standing on my head and Auntie Erika took me for acupuncture and moxibustion… Of course, Baby A-A is a big rascal and will do whatever he wants to prove that I’m not in control of him, though. I hope he flips and doesn’t stay this way out of spite. So far he hasn’t done anything I want him to do. He’ll stop kicking as soon as I try to show somebody he’s kicking, and he wouldn’t be conceived when we had stopped drinking – he decided to wait until I gave up and had some wine. And in these pictures he doesn’t look anything like the other ones! Who knows.
Last night Cory and I saw the baby move for the first time. Earlier in the day, Grandma Avon felt him kick for the first time. Seeing him move was crazy. Like in the cartoons where somebody’s banging on the door and the whole door moves THUD THUD THUD. It was wild. Sometimes I go about my day and forget (forget the way that on your birthday you might forget it’s your birthday for five seconds and then remember and go YAYYY) – though I’ve had that epiphany ten zillion times, every time I go, “Oh yeah, there’s a PERSON in there” it blows my mind.
And not just a person, but my kid who is going to give me stories to tell people. My kid who is going to be what my life revolves around. My kid who is going to make me a mommy. My kid who’s going to hopefully graduate from high school someday. My kid who’s hopefully going to get married someday. He’ll yell at me and tell me he hates me and he’ll pick me flowers and make me Mother’s Day gifts. That guy – that kid – that’s in there making thunks right now. It’s so bizarre.
My sister quit smoking yesterday and I’m really glad about it. I quit in 2005 and have been begging my family to give it up ever since. But it’s an individual decision that you have to make yourself. People pushing you into it doesn’t make it work. I’m really happy she got there on her own and I’m going to do everything I can to support her in it. It’s such a big gift to yourself and to everyone around you. I just wish my parents would get there. But I know I can’t make it happen for them – that has to happen on its own. But I really don’t want Baby A-A around it.
Today I’m feeling tired and weird. I think the phenomena they call Baby Brain is starting to get to me. It scares me. I have a lot of work to do and I worry about slowing down. But I guess that if I need to slow down, I will. It will happen whether I like it or not. There’s something a little comforting in knowing that things will take care of themselves and it’s not my job to take care of that stuff, but it’s also terrifying that my body turns into my boss and dictates everything. I thought I was the boss!
Mr. Peanut is squirming up a storm right now. Thump! Bump! Bonk!
This has been a fun ride so far. Nothing makes a person reminisce and appreciate the past more than a significant future change. Kate and I have had a good past. We’ve had a lot of fun and have made many great memories. We make each other laugh, we make each other happy. We are loved. She’s my best bud and I sure do like her! We pick and pull and bother each other sometimes, but it’s okay. At the end of the day, we’re very happy with our story. There’s nobody else I’d rather say ‘I love you’ to first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
Last night, I was telling baby our ‘How We Met’ story. And, when you condense it into a storybook, “Once upon a time…’ version, it’s a pretty nice little story. The best part… it doesn’t end. There was no ending to the story and there are going to be many more beginnings and firsts. Having this baby is exciting. We are venturing on what will be, at this point, the best part of the story, the most exciting, life-changing part. I had a dream recently where my dad said to me, something along the lines of, “Friends are great and important, but spending time with family, with your children is the most satisfying for the soul.” I find that to be more true now than I ever have. I can’t wait to hang out with our baby.
I am lucky to have so many best friends. Kate, Bob, Nancy, Andrew, Ken, Teri, Erika, Mimi, Poppy, Nonnie… and all my aunts, uncles, and cousins.
My sister asked me this morning some questions about when in your life you stop being grossed out or scared by pregnancy and childbirth. I don’t know if I ever stopped! But my answer was something like this:
So yes, it is completely weird that there are eyeballs and fingernails INSIDE of my uterus right now. That there is a heartbeat and a whole new set of organs. And that I can feel another human being move inside of me. It’s so very very very weird. I remember having that conversation with pregnant friends like the caterpillar to the butterfly – there’s an alien, a whole living being INSIDE OF YOU. Isn’t that WEIRD!?
It’s totally weird! It’s beyond anything a sci-fi author or Apple innovator could dream up. It’s bizarre and super weird. But it’s nature. It’s evolution. It’s what’s meant to be and it’s how we all got here. It’s perfect. It’s a crazy coincidence that fertilization is even possible, which is also totally weird.
It’s exactly as weird as the fact that our brains make our bodies move, that putting a piece of fruit in your mouth and moving your jaw around and swallowing gives you energy, that sunlight and water somehow make plants grow. It’s weird the way our hearts know how to beat and it’s weird that there are so many different animals that work in so many different ways. It’s weird that our bodies process food and water into poop and pee. It’s weird that the clouds rain on us and it’s weird that this planet landed exactly far enough (or close enough) to the sun to make everything work the way it does. It’s weird that because Cory and I decided to, we are making a whole new person.
This whole time I’ve been completely fascinated with the insanely precise process in which a couple of cells somehow magically turn into a person I’m going to love for the rest of my life in a whole new way. Pictures of fetuses always creeped me out before and now I’m just completely enraptured with each new step of the process – the tail this baby once had, the eyelids fusing shut, the breathing amniotic fluid, the cheesy coating and lanugo, the fontanelles. It’s incredible.
In all honesty? I am way WAY more creeped out by my ever-flattening bellybutton and the thought of it popping out. It gives me shivers thinking about it.