Monday, March 29, 2010

Brand new

The tiniest person is snoozing on my lap, the slightly larger person is away at preschool, and the largest person is off at the gym, so I'm reflecting on the last three weeks since little Jake came into our world. He's wonderful and adorable, and he's turned us all upside down a little bit. He's a mellow infant, for the most part, but has the same baby dragon scream that his big brother did -- "don't make me won't like me when I'm angry!" We've gone through a week with the 24/7 glow and hum of a biliblanket to treat his jaundice (and can I just ask, Mr. Biliblanket Designer , have you not actually observed how awkward this thing is on a live baby human?), and now we're waiting for my little glowworm's milia spots to fade away. He's beautiful, though, despite the yellow-brown complection. Perfectly formed. Big blue eyes. Long thin fingers. Toes like candy dots. Full head of hair, and peach fuzz up his back and across the tops of his tiny ears. As is the case with all newborns, Jake is really not terribly interesting -- he doesn't do anything -- yet we all sit here staring at him through most of each day. We nurse a lot, nap a lot, snuggle a lot. Just yesterday, however, we managed to get out of the house and eat lunch with my dad; for two hours I felt like a real person again, instead of a house-bound, sweatpants-clad, baggy-eyed, swollen-bellied blech. I've lost all track of day and date; it's been like one very long, hazy day broken into 3-hour segments between feedings. The big difference, though, between this newborn experience and our first newborn experience is that we knew what to expect so we don't feel so panicky all the time, less like we've been run over by a train but merely buzzed by a compact car. I also know that each phase goes by quickly, so I can be patient and perseverant through the yucky stuff, grateful and present for the amazing stuff. Sweet Boy has adjusted fairly well. He loves his baby brother, smothers him with kisses and constantly asks "can I just look at his face?" (Can you imagine a more pure, loving desire than to simply gaze on his baby brother's face?!) But he's been a bit mean to Mommy, which I expected. I've tried to spend as much one-on-one time with Big Bro as possible, but it's not been easy, with the 6-inch incision healing on my belly and the 22-inch person suckling on my breasts. Day by day, though. We'll all figure it out. We're getting into a rhythm now, I think, I hope. I feel reassured this morning that perhaps I can be mother to two children without completely losing my mind; a week ago, I wasn't so sure. And now I must nap.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

To my new little love, on the day before we officially meet

Here we are, kiddo. Just about 12 hours from our first meeting, the first time I see your little face and count your tiny fingers. I can think of nothing else right now. This is what it sounds like in my brain: babybabybabybabybabybabybabybabybaby.

There's so much I want to tell you about the world you're about to enter. But most of it can wait. Someday I'll tell you about what a cold, snowy, gray winter it's been -- how I sat around gestating through the entire winter, too big and clumsy to dare walk outside, while your father shoveled almost 80 inches of snow. Someday I'll tell you about how each day I try to watch the news but turn it off after 5 minutes because it just makes me sad. Someday I'll tell you about the political and financial blech that grips our country right now, the anxiety and uncertainty we all face each day. Someday I'll tell you about the giant earthquakes striking across the globe that make me think that Mother Nature is, in fact, trying to eject us.

But today I will focus on telling you these truths: For months now, you have been the glimmer in my heart, the bright spot in each morning when I wake up and feel you moving inside me. In a year of constant often frightening changes, you have brought hope and wonder and excitement into our little family like I've never known -- even moreso than when your brother was born because we now have him to share it with. You've lessened the sadness of losing loved ones and eased the shock of losing a job. You've already moved into our hearts and changed our perspectives.

Today I sat in the sunshine watching your daddy and big brother play on the playground and I thought, wow, life is so good. And it's about to get better. I'm so excited to meet you, my love. I've waited so long.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

So many questions. So little time.

Ah, babies. They generate so many questions: How was it made? How will it come out? What will it do when it gets here? What do I do when it gets here? How will it change my life? These are questions even grown-ups wrestle with.

But can you imagine being 4, witnessing your mommy expanding exponentially, wondering what the heck is actually going on in there when you see the ripples and hear Mommy giggling (or sighing/moaning/whining) about it? You can barely imagine sharing your toys with your cat, let alone a whole other person -- so you know this is going to be very hard but you'll do your best because it will make Mom and Daddy happy. You keep hearing about how you have to be a big brother, how you have to learn how to get your own sneakers on, how you will have to set a good example. You wait and you wait and you wait, then they tell you that Mommy has to go to the hospital for a few days, where the doctor will help her get the baby out. Hmm. But they still haven't told you, how did the baby get in there, anyway?

Oh boy.

Last night we tried to address some of Sweet Boy's questions about how the baby comes out (we still haven't come clean on how baby got in there -- I've chalked it up to "God knew we wanted another child" and left it there for now). Because he was a C-section delivery and because we've scheduled a C-section for next Wednesday, I took out the photos from Sweet Boy's first moments of life. I wanted him to see Mommy smiling on the strange table and Daddy with the silly hat and mask on. I wanted him to see himself screaming hello to the world, the nurses wiping the goop off him, his family smiling and cooing when they first met him. Of course he loved these photos. We looked at them at least four times. We talked about belly buttons. We talked about how cold and bright the world is when you're a brand new baby. (Yes, we even talked about how new-baby penises look different than big boy penises.) And we talked about how now he'd prefer a baby sister to a baby brother.

Then we talked about how Voo (my dad) will stay with him while Mommy's having the baby, but Daddy will come home every night to be with him while Mom's in the hospital. And I told him I'd call him every day and send him pictures from my phone. We counted on my fingers and on the calendar how many days until Baby Day. When he went to bed, he said he couldn't wait until "his baby" gets here, and he drifted off to sleep as I laid there next to him, tracing my finger along his perfect nose and cheeks, wondering how that smooshy-faced screaming red infant turned so quickly into this smart, happy, overflowing-with-love boy child.

Around 1 a.m. Sweet Boy padded into our room carrying his beloved Jodi Bear. "Can I just snuggle for a little while, Mommy?" Sure, buddy, let's snuggle; I can think of nothing I'd enjoy more.

At 6:30 this morning, I woke up to a tiny tapping on my shoulder, and a bright-eyed little boy with a hopeful-fearful-happy-anxious expression on his face, an expression like Christmas morning mixed with first day of school. "Mommy, is today the day the baby's coming?"

So again, we counted on our fingers how many days until Baby Day.

"Can you tell me again, Mommy, how is the doctor going to crack your belly open to get the baby out? I'm scared it's going to hurt you."

It's quite possible that none of us will sleep well for the next 6 nights.

Monday, March 1, 2010

A girl could get used to this

I arrived home a little bit late from the office this evening, after running an errand without worrying about racing up the highway from my office to get to daycare on time. When I walked in the door, I was greeted by the most scrumptious smells of onions and fried pork chops. A little boy with a gigantic smile and an infectious giggle ran to me yelling "Mommy's home!" and a handsome man kissed me and said "Just in time. Have a seat. Your dinner's ready." We ate a delicious dinner, and throughout the meal, the man and the boy spoke a strange made-up language that only they understood, exchanging giggles about a surprise that waited for me in the fridge. Finally when I thought the little boy would explode from the excitement of the surprise, the man presented a homemade carrot cake -- the first he'd ever baked -- just because he knew it is my favorite.

No need to pinch me, or check me for fever -- or send me for counseling because I've obviously had a psychotic break. This is real life. Or at least it is today.

It's been about two weeks now since Big Daddy's, ahem, parting from his employer of 12 years (those bastards), and I'm discovering that there are a lot of pluses to our new arrangement

(1) Daddy and Sweet Boy finally get to spend some regular old time together, doing regular old stuff like putting together puzzles, coloring, and exploring the woods in a snow shower -- all the things that I've been able to do with the Boy on a day-to-day basis but Daddy had been missing while making that hideous commute each day.

(2) Daddy is more consistent in matters of discipline. Sweet Boy's behavior at school has improved about 200%, and I'm noticing a number of positive changes at home, too. Like cleaning up toys without being hounded, or taking his cat-feeding responsibilities seriously.

(3) Dinner is ready when I get home from work. Which is enough to make any girl happy all on its own, but it also means that we eat earlier, which means we spend more time together as a family in the evenings.

(4) Our house has never been so clean. Seriously. Never. The counter tops sparkle and the dishes are put away. The wood floors shine. The furniture is cat-fur free. Even the laundry gets washed, folded, and put away. As if by magic.

(5) Small little odd jobs that have been sitting undone for months -- years! -- have been completed. Case in point: The ice cube maker in our freezer has been waiting to be connected since we moved in 3 years; he did some research online, hooked it all up, and we now have ice on demand!

(6) All the schlepping and errand running that I've been doing in between work and mommying is getting done while I'm at work. This includes things like oil changes, grocery store runs, phone calls, shopping for gifts for friends' birthdays -- even registering the kiddo for kindergarten!

(7) In the morning, I get up and eat breakfast with Sweet Boy, then we take our time getting dressed because Daddy can take him to school when I go to work. I can't even begin to describe how this has decreased my stress and made mornings better for all of us.

(8) Big Daddy is relaxed. And smiling. Finally. This is a very good thing.

No, I'm not advocating that all dual-income households drop a job just to shake things up. Yes, I think there's considerable time spent in the recliner with the TV on. And yes, I know that our life will be challenging* in a number of ways over the next few weeks (or months). And of course I do want my husband to find a job outside the home that he feels good about. But for now, this stay-at-home dad thing really is good.

(*Keep in mind that in about 4 days, I'll be home on maternity leave for 12 we'll both be stay-at-home the same time! That's a whole lot of togetherness. Stay tuned.)