Monday, June 08, 2015
i must confess that i enjoyed your second month of life far more than your first. for starters, you have been giving all of us much more sleep. i wish i can take credit for this by virtue of some baby whisperer voodoo that i possess, but the truth is that you put yourself on a 6pm-6am sleep schedule since the start of this month. i just followed your cues. most nights, you wake up only two or three times for a 15-minute feed before falling asleep easily again. for this, i am endlessly grateful.
the flipside is that you are a lousy napper during the day, resisting all attempts at a regular sleep schedule. but it's OK because the nighttime matters more and you are acing it like the future Harvard grad you are sure to become. helping us along is a track of white noise that i've downloaded and looped so it plays the whole night in your room.
this is not the standard crap that sounds like a hairdryer on high. this white noise mimics sounds from the womb (so they say), if the womb sounds like freight trains, radiators, machine gun fire, bad techno and has the unintended side effect of making your father and i want to stab each other. but hey, whatever gets you sleeping.
despite the relatively easy nights, like many new mothers, i am still researching products, reading literature and trying to do what i can to turn those choppy 12 hours into a solid stretch, surely more for myself than for you, because the memory of a good night's rest still haunts me -- or maybe mocks me.
i understand that this is the cost of doing business with a newborn, but i'm determined to get us solid before i return to work in august so i don't come back with this mushy brain that currently forgets things that were told to it 10 minutes earlier.
if there is one thing sure to get you sleeping it's being outdoors, so we often head to the back patio in your stroller, which settles you instantly. car rides also knock you out. things that are sure to keep you awake include new places as well as visitors whom you seem to enjoy gawking at as much as they enjoy gawking at you. you are nothing if not curious.
even on weekends when your father is with us all day, you don't want to miss a thing and will rub your eyes or shake your head vigorously the moment sleep threatens to ruin everything. this equals disaster by bedtime when you become an overtired mess, still fighting sleep and full of terrifying screams that sound like we are branding you like a cow.
speaking of animals, you don't seem particularly amused when your four-legged siblings stick their faces near your face or try to shove their noses into your diaper. you seem to hate them, actually, whining whenever they get too close.
you also hated your first visit to the beach as well as your first bath, acting like i dropped you into a tub of acid when your body hit the water, but now you are semi-ok with them since we started bringing you into the shower with us. i think you just wanted to maintain that closeness to us and it's been lovely having you there, except for that one time you crapped on me.
i'm seeing now that you just need a little time to get used to things, eyeing everything new with suspicion until it becomes familiar. i'm not sure if this is an emerging personality trait or a byproduct of evolution that equates suspicion with survival, but it's definitely in your nature.
thankfully, you do warm up eventually: diaper changes, for instance, once caused you to roar but now you seem to look forward to them, especially the part when i clean your penis, which evokes a look of pleasure that rivals the look you give me when i first expose my breast before nursing.
beyond just your penis, i've come to realize this month how i am responsible for managing every part of your body, from the obvious to the obscure. i had this epiphany when i noticed a piece of flaky skin by your ear, which caused me to investigate further and discover earwax.
then i examined the rest of your body, looking into every orifice and under every neck and thigh roll, where i found lint between your toes and boogers in your nose. you also had dirty fingernails that looked like you had been working on cars, which puzzled me until my mother informed me that the dirt was dead skin cells you had been scratching off my neck all day.
so now, beyond just being your faithful cow, i am your dedicated body buffer, spending a chunk of each week grooming you like a monkey. you seem to enjoy the attention, allowing me to peel your overgrown fingernails and examine your butt for diaper rash. you've even begun lifting your legs when you see me ready to apply the diaper ointment. this lets me know that you are learning and becoming aware in a way that was absent your first month.
but now you are awakening to the world all around you, finding wonder in both the mundane and sublime. sometimes, you get cranky if i'm stationary too long while holding you instead of walking around the room so you can stare at new things. this awareness has ushered in the greatest new thing for me: your smile. it's the most delicious thing i've ever seen, lighting up your face like an emoticon.
i've heard friends talk about how they become piles of jello when seeing their babies smile and i have always rolled my eyes at the schmaltziness of it, but i am that cliche now, nibbling on your feet and blowing raspberries on your belly in an effort to evoke that gummy goodness from you, which instantly draws a smile to my own face and adds a pressure to my chest that makes me feel as though my heart is actually melting.
motherhood has been the ultimate cliche: the greatest love of all, a joy unlike any other, a devotion to something bigger than yourself and all the other standards i used to dismiss because my Russianness prevents me from becoming overly sentimental. but i am that pile of jello now, convinced that you are the cutest thing in the world, the most beautiful baby on the planet in the history of all babies who ever lived, and i don't doubt the accuracy of my viewpoint, not even for a moment.
i tell you i love you every day, call you "my handsome prince" ("king" is still reserved for your father, though i don't say it as sincerely to him), smell your head constantly, kiss the bottom of your adorable feet and let you nap on my chest, even though all the books on sleep training babies advise against this. but screw them because i am your mother now, which is synonymous with being your fool.
then sometimes when i'm busy scrolling through the countless iPhone photos i take of you daily, i'll come across a few ugly shots that highlight your double chin and sometimes crossed eyes and make me realize how securely my mom goggles have been fastened to my head.
that's when i feel the full force of my Russianness return to me, especially after posting the shot to my instagram feed, because what kind of mother would i be if i didn't stay true to my nature and make fun of you occasionally? how would that prepare you for handling the big, cruel world?
yes, Nico, i am doing this for you. the mockery, these blog posts, the sleep deprivation, the grooming -- it's all for you. because if i've learned anything about parenting in the two months i've been a parent it's that parenthood is a neverending series of self-sacrifices, some small and others grand, all geared to support the tedious cliche that the love i feel for you -- my sweet, precious, fat, cross-eyed son -- is unparalleled in its intensity. i would die and kill for you, give my last breath to you and all that other shit mothers have been feeling for their children since the dawn of time.
thank you for giving me this experience. it's been wonderful, carving out a new dimension inside of me previously unknown but now occupied by that heart-melting smile of yours that i hope to evoke every day for the rest of my life.