Owen was born via c-section; he was breech. And if I’m being truthful, I was happy with the idea of a c-section; after years of infertility I was terrified that my body would screw up in childbirth, and the idea of a procedure where doctors could have him out of me within minutes gave me a lot of relief.
I didn’t really expect to HAVE a baby, you see. I had convinced myself that something was going to happen to him while I was pregnant and we were going to end up empty-handed.
So when they handed my newborn to me, I was a little unprepared. For everything, really. Nursing, care, etc. I spent his first few days fretting about how much he slept – normal for a baby who was nearly three weeks early – and how little he ate. Shouldn’t he want to feed?
And then there was the whole learning how to feed him thing. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say, I relied heavily on nurses and lactation consultants in those days after he was born.
Recovering from a c-section is tough: there’s not a lot of positions you can sleep or sit in that’s comfortable. So I was having a tough go of it finding a position where I could nurse my new son comfortably.
And then, one of the night nurses showed me a position where I was able to lay down on my side, a pillow under my leg, with my son laying next to me. It was perfect: not only could I feed him easily from this position, but if I was tired, I could sleep AND feed without too much worry.
It was maybe the third night in the hospital (we got 5 when all was said and done, since he was born in the evening) when Owen woke up for a bit. Since he was awake, I thought, Woo hoo! Let’s do this feeding thing! and I set us both up: me on my side, pillow under my outstretched leg, him on his side, facing me.
He wasn’t interested in eating though – he just stared up at me, like he had known me forever. It was a moment I’ll never forget; his dark eyes looking straight at me as I talked to him.
And in the weeks to come, when I was overwhelmed with sleep deprivation and his fussiness and sleep issues and feeding schedule, when I felt like a fraud and a fake as a mother, that moment – the one where he knew me – was the one that grounded me.
It was the start of our bond, you see.
The past two days have been rough ones; I have more work to do than I have time for. I am in heavy mileage for marathon training, and I am sneaking runs in. I am stressed out and tired, and stealing time for work and running. I worked late on Monday night and then again last night, stealing time at 8pm for a run along the Charles. And I missed bedtime both nights.
Tonight, though, I was home for his bedtime.
We always lay down next to Owen on his bed when we read stories. And we’ll generally lay with him for a few minutes once we turn out the light. Usually he’s talking; asking questions and talking about his day and coming up with stories. I can’t tell you how many times a night I have to tell him that it’s time for sleeping, that we can talk more in the morning, that it’s time to rest and close his eyes.
Tonight, though, he was tired from a long day of kindergarten, his after school program, and then swim lessons tonight. So when I turned off the light, I came back to the bed and lay down on my side, my head propped on his pillow, facing him.
He rolled towards me, cradling Bear, and tucked his hands and head into my neck. I wrapped my arms around him and he closed his eyes; he was asleep within minutes.
I had a sudden memory of that night in the hospital; his dark eyes staring up at me, the weight of him so very slight in my arms.
He announced that he learned a new song today, at school. Putting his hands behind his back, he sang, Trick or Treat! Smell my feet! Give me something good to eat! If you don’t, I don’t care, I’ll pull down your underwear!
He won’t let me help buckle him into his booster seat anymore – OR unbuckle himself. He does it himself now.
Since starting kindergarten, when he wakes up in the morning, he gets himself dressed before he comes downstairs.
He gets on the bus confidently, saying good morning! to his bus driver, then sits and waves at me through the window.
At swim class, he jumps in without hesitation. He swims underwater as much as he can; showing off for me, for his teachers.
He rides his bike as fast as he can, puts his own helmet on himself, and warns me as he’s riding to Stay on the sidewalk, Mommy! It’s not safe to walk in the road!
He has learned the pledge of allegiance for school and practices it as much as possible.
I remember the day he was born as if it were, in fact, yesterday. I remember what I was wearing; the feel of the spring air, still cold, but warming in the sun. I remember the full moon that rose outside our hospital window. How light he was in the carseat when we were finally on our way home; how it felt like there was nothing in there. The incredulity I felt that we were actually leaving the hospital with a real, live baby – OUR baby. Our son.
I love the age where he is at now; love his curiosity and sports-mindedness and imagination. I can’t WAIT for him to learn how to read and write and do math. I very much look forward to watching him grow and change; I look forward to watching him turn into the man he will be someday.
It’s just that I can’t wrap my brain around the flow of time. I blinked, and the slight weight of my infant in my arms turned into this boy, this kindergartener. And I’m going to blink again and it’s going to be this teenager, then Jeff and I will be dancing at his wedding.
So, yeah. Tonight I’m feeling nostalgic. For the teeny baby of mine.
Who is no longer a baby.