Posted by: emjb | January 21, 2006

Hello and hello and hello

Nathan is glad to see me. But then he’s glad to see everyone. You never met a friendlier baby. But I’m not sure he really knows that I’m all that different from other people yet.

It’s not surprising if he doesn’t. He’s been raised by a village more than most babies his age. I’ve needed a lot of help. And when I was with him, more often than not, I was feeling very far away, concentrating so hard on holding myself together that deep bonding wasn’t really on the menu. I was caring for him, but with a sort of desperate, strained feeling–the depression I had then was that kind that makes you feel like an impending doom is hanging over you, a vague doom you can’t name (and therefore, can’t fight). Which combined with the sleep deprivation made every frustration, every time he spit up or couldn’t get to sleep, feel like the end of the world. I would set him down a lot, need other people to hold him a lot, because I just couldn’t connect in the right way. I loved him, but I was afraid of loving him. Afraid that I wasn’t really able to love him, because all I could feel then was my own pain.

I might still be afraid. But I’m not afraid to be afraid, if that makes any sense.

We were completely apart for two whole weeks, almost a fourth of his very short life. And a few days ago, before I got on the plane leaving New York for good, I decided he and I were just going to start over. Reintroduce ourselves and not worry about before.

We walked in the door and before I even hugged my mom I picked him up. I cried, he gave me the smiles and laughs he gives all the people who love and coo over and feed him. And I’ve barely let him go since. I want him to know I’m different, I’m his mom, and I don’t ever want to feel that far apart from him again. I don’t think he quite has it, though he gives me a puzzled look now and then, like maybe I’m someone he met at a party last year but he can’t quite remember my name.

Holding him is different without the depression, even though there’s regular old sadness hanging around still. But I’m not terrified now, even though I’m still so clueless that today I walked away while he was on his changing table to grab something. Classic dumb-mom move, and I’m really lucky he didn’t take a header, he wasn’t even held by a guard rail or strap. Did I mention my mom was standing right there? Yes, now she’s going to worry about her grandson’s keeper. Bad Mommy! Some parts of my brain have not yet gotten the memo about me being responsible for his safety 24/7. OK brain, you’re going to have to catch up now. Break time is over.

Last night we followed his grandma-tested swaddle and sleep schedule, and he did fine; 10-2 then a little bottle and a new diaper, then asleep till 6. At six I changed him again, gave him another little bit of bottle, and brought him into bed with me, because I couldn’t stand not to hold him any longer. I unswaddled him and put him back in his pjs so I could cuddle him better. We slept for two hours and it was absolute heaven to have his little warm soft self next to me, even if my arm did nearly fall asleep. I would have stayed there longer if he hadn’t wanted to get up and play.

We’ve been together all day; I’ve had a hard time putting him down for his naps, because it’s so nice to have him fall asleep cuddled next to me on the recliner. Then he wakes up and we play. I am having to find out how to play with him, because he’s learned all about new things…books and Baby Einstein and making talking sounds…that he didn’t know about yet when we were together. We’re going to have to find new games together.

His little head is round now instead of oval-ish, a baby’s head and not a newborn’s. His fine fuzzy black hair refuses to rub off completely, though, no matter how much I rub my face against it. He looks so much like me that I think I must be imagining it, until someone else says so. I didn’t expect that for some reason. But I know for sure that his lopsided smile comes directly from my dad, by way of me. I won’t take credit for his good temper and patience and reluctance to cry. Those are just pure blessings, however he got them.

Now when he doesn’t want to sleep or he spits up or something else seems to be going wrong, I don’t freeze and wonder what I’m doing here and why I thought I was ever qualified to have a child. I wait, to see what happens, I make a list in my head of things to try, and I remember that the world won’t end if he does cry. I might cry with him, but that’s nothing to be scared of either.

Hello, baby. Hello hello hello. Let’s start again, ok? I’m game if you are.



  1. I’m glad you’ve had such a kick-ass village. This is the way it’s supposed to be; we’re not meant to be post-partum wrecks quarantined from the rest of society.
    Sounds lovely. Especially the looking like you thing — ever so slightly jealous here!

  2. Well he doesn’t have my toes, though…those are his daddy’s big monkey toes, I think.

    Come to think of it, my husband looks nothing like his mother either, but has a lot of her personality. Her daughter is just the opposite; looks like her mom but acts like her dad. I’m pretty sure you’ll catch some sort of resemblance in your son, probably a facial expression that he’ll inherit or copy…those can be uncanny.

  3. oh, the joy. you made me want to cry happy tears, and then grab up my baby and squeeze him tight.

    many blessings on your mother-son relationship. 🙂

  4. Oh I’m so happy for you! And I’m really jealous that Nathan sleeps so well.. Ethan (my boy) is 4 weeks old tomorrow and doesn’t sleep well at night, and he still won’t sleep in his crib and always wants to be held…. GAH! The madness! Anyway, they say it gets better, blablabla, all babies fuss, blablabla… I can’t believe people do this more than once. Apparently you forget the delivery and first few weeks at some point, and then you suddenly want another one. Hmmm…

  5. Welcome home Nathan’s mommy, no one will ever love him like you do. But his grandmother, Grandew, thinks he is really special. He light up my days.

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