The Angel in the Details
December 04, 2008
I've found myself reading through my old archives a lot lately -- I have this compulsion to constantly compare Ezra's infancy to Noah's, both in photos and milestones, using Noah as a yardstick to know that I Haven't Fucked Up Yet -- and so I've also been cringing and laughing at myself a lot.
I feel sorry for that poor girl in those entries about breastfeeding, the girl who was trying so hard to succeed at something neither she or her baby were particularly jazzed about, but who did not want to F-A-I-L but needed to W-I-N and it all had to be P-E-R-F-E-C-T.
And I smile ruefully at that girl who could not stop writing about how much she loved her baby, like it took her by surprise, like she spent most of her time staring slack-jawed at her infant with a mix of rapture and utter terror while the emotions of early first-time motherhood engulfed her. And then pistol-whipped her for good measure. And then stole her wallet.
And then there's me now, who probably isn't that different, because while I can be all head-pattingly condescending to my former self, I'm still neurotic and guilt-ridden as all get-out, because I haven't written a single longwinded love letter to my second son yet, but instead keep looking back to things I wrote about Noah and nodding and thinking: Yes. That.
This time around...well...it's been easier, I think. Not necessarily from a practical point of view -- I run out of hours in the day in MINUTES, it seems like, and there's nothing to be done about the relentless grind of SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE needing you at all times, one right after another, or at the same time, while you struggle to prioritize the needs and again, smiling ruefully at your former self who would think: OH MY GOD, THE BABY IS CRYING I CANNOT EVER LET THE BABY CRY OH GOD IT'S BEEN FIVE MINUTES HE'S DESTINED TO BE A SERIAL KILLER. Because now the process is something like:
comfort infant vs. wash toddler's hands after lunch
(wash hands = five minutes of crying)
(peanut butter & jelly fingerprints on wall and dog = 20 minutes of cleaning)
(20 minutes of cleaning = toddler trying to "help" and infant needing simultaneous diaper change and peanut butter & jelly streaked dog jumping on couch and bratty phone call to husband to shriek YOU COME HOME. YOU COME HOME RIGHT NOW. and overall loss of sanity and dignity.)
And it's...five minutes of crying, FTW!
But beyond all that. I don't feel like I've been hit with the Emotional Vulnerability Train as hard this time. Oh, sure, I absolutely cannot read any news story about children being hurt or abused or lost or killed, lest I have to go lie down in the hallway outside the boys' rooms in a trembly pile. I sometimes can't believe I just knowingly and purposely DOUBLED the number of little precious bodies and people that I need to worry about for the rest of my life.
But oh, it's so worth it, and I don't feel the need to spend paragraph after paragraph explaining why. It just is. Ezra just is. He's just right, and weirdly familiar, and falling in love with him has not been so crazy and foreign-feeling, but more like how everyone around here has decided whatever, we're all wearing our clompy old Uggs again, because damn, I forgot how COMFORTABLE those suckers are.
But Ezra is also worth remembering, in every tiny detail. So here goes.
There's no staring slack-jawed in shock and wonder this time, but I still have a hard time taking my eyes off of him. He is, to me, breathtakingly beautiful, from his long eyelashes to his stick-uppy hair to his impossibly round face to his stocky, chubby little body that I have nourished completely with my own body -- OVERSUPPLY has been our only breastfeeding hiccup beyond his initial tongue-tie, if you can believe it, which I can fucking not. No colic, no reflux, no allergies. He's spent a couple nights swaddled in his crib, although I much prefer co-sleeping, as does he, and I'm surprisingly able to get a good night's sleep with him curled up next to my chest, listening to him snuffle and hum.
(Co-sleeping was encouraged when Noah was born -- the hospital advised me to just keep him in bed with me after my c-section, and it was listed as a great way to increase my meager milk supply on the information sheet from the lactation consultant -- but now it's fallen out of favor thanks to some other study that was all, DEATH! DEAAAATH! I got yelled at in the hospital for keeping him in my bed [I simply learned to keep the curtain drawn so I'd have an extra second or two to snap to attention when a nurse came in, so I could pretend that no! We're not co-sleeping! We're co-awaking!] And while the LC now has "co-sleeping" crossed out on the information sheet, I noticed that NO ONE actually inquired as to where the baby slept, wink wink, nudge nudge.)
(Also things that have changed in three years: breastfed babies need vitamin supplements, no solids until six months instead of four, baby powder and cornstarch have become terrible lung-clogging dangers that we should never ever use, and pacifiers are now SIDS-prevention tools instead of Nipple Confusion Tools Of The Devil. I bet if we ever have another baby they'll tell us to let him sleep in a hammock and feed him pureed pepperoni pizza at four weeks old.)
And he sleeps! Oh, my, God, he sleeps. Noah slept six hours at night by seven weeks -- Ezra's been doing that since he was five-and-a-half weeks, when he went from waking constantly to sleeping soundly literally overnight, as if he knew we were teetering along our breaking point. Five hours is now considered a "bad" night, six is the average, and let us all speak in hushed, reverent tones of the night he slept seven hours. I don't really understand it, how I managed to get such a good baby -- I have always joked since Noah's infancy that since HE was a pretty easy baby, our next one would be born with 666 on his head, and yet here is Ezra, with nothing but a downy halo of light brown hair.
He still loves to be swaddled, but as the seams of the Miracle Blanket strain and his fat little body seems warmer on its own, I've learned that I can stop the flailing that wakes him up and soothe him back to sleep simply by gently holding both of his hands in mine.
Mostly though, he just wants to be held. He wants to be close to you, a body, a set of arms, a heartbeat. Put him down for just a minute when he's still awake and watch his little face crumple -- his forehead creases with worry and his bottom lip curls out and he sucks in some air and starts to wail. A sling is acceptable, but is no replacement for actually just plain being held and talked to and petted and nursed and kissed, while I whisper a hundred blog entries' worth of declarations of the fierce, wonderful love I have for him into his ear.