11 March 2010

Oh dear. It seems I have a two-month old baby and I have not made one peep about it on this here blog. The problem is there's so much to write about, and what little extra time there is we like to spend oogling over our baby. Plus, we've had a long stream of guests, some of them repeat comers (hi mom and dad!) and we've made outings of our own, including two trips to Chicago, one of them to assure that the little guy is officially Spanish, too.

Anyway, I have nothing more to offer than a sort of stream-of-consciousness bullet point scramble, thinking over the last weeks, as a way to get back to writing in this space...

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During those first weeks, I thought I had given birth to a baby pterodactyl, because he made the loudest, screechiest, cawingest sounds you ever did hear. Now he has started to coo and squeal and they are the sweetest sounds on earth. I even laugh at his crying sometimes because it is just so sweet, those piteous little high pitched waaahs, complete with lower lip stuck way out.

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I still get a giddy, fierce feeling every time I drive by the hospital (which is often, since we live only two blocks away). I think of what happened there as a sweet, secret thing of which I am immensely proud and it is a little disconcerting to realize that everyone's mother went through the same thing.

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Speaking of which: having a baby was HARD, don't get me wrong, but it was way less hard than I thought it would be. They keep asking you "on a scale of one to ten, how much pain are you in?" It's an impossible question to answer, because even when it hurts you think it's going to hurt way more, so you put yourself on the lower end of the spectrum. The furthest I got, just before the nurse discovered I was completely dilated and ready to push, was a 7. And pushing didn't hurt too much, but boy was it strenuous, requiring every muscle of my body.

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I was totally unprepared for the aftermath. The next day, I didn't just hurt...down there, but EVERYWHERE. I felt so wiped out: everything ached like I had participated in an iron man competition, my arms felt weak, my boobs were sore from nursing, and I had a weird side effect of...adrenaline? the nurses didn't know...that caused my skin to tingle all over and feel like my limbs were just waking up from being asleep. So I was scared to hold Gabriel and jealous of all those people who could pick him up so easily from his bassinet and walk him around the room. Plus, hormones were going haywire, and I wasn't really sleeping, and someone was coming into the room every five minutes to take my temperature or weigh the baby or bring me food or ask me questions... I had prepared so much for what would happen in labor&delivery that I was caught unawares by the postpartum hospital say. That said, I felt very cared for and was so happy to have that time to recover and be in our own cocoon. A snowstorm raged outside the whole night Gabriel was born and during the next two days, but we were so warm and cozy and happy inside.

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The first day in the hospital, post-partum, I asked my mother: "Do they put something in the diapers? He just smells so good!" My baby smelled like the most heavenly elixer of flowers and sweetness and light. I couldn't believe he could smell that good on his own and so assumed there must be an additive somewhere. But he does smell that good.

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I am So! Excited! to read books to this baby. I can't wait until we can get him all of my childhood favorites, and until he can understand the stories, and then I can't wait to introduce him to a whole world of books he can read on his own. Yesterday was the day of Sant Jordi (Catalan Valentine's day, in which men and women trade books and roses), and we made sure to read him a few books, including one which annoys me to end because the last page rhymes "drum" and "Mom." I can only assume it was written by a Brit and the American version altered "Mum" to "Mom." Anyway, we had a lovely Sant Jordi, with my brother and sister-in-law in town, and I have a new pile of summer reading that I am smacking my lips over! Includes: Stieg Larsson, Herman Melville, Irène Némirovsky, C.D. Wright...

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Gabriel was baptized on Easter weekend during the Easter Vigil service, a two-hour marathon, candlelit service that begins at 9 pm. Perfect for a newborn, right?! But he was an angel during the part that mattered, and I love how beautiful and symbolic that moment was: we began the service in darkness and quiet, and after the ceremony of baptism, the sanctuary burst into light and bells pealed. New birth, new life, Christ's victory over death.

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We finally got a washer and dryer, just three days ago, and we finally get to use the cloth diaper stash that I've been carefully building up! Yay for cute bediapered bum and no more insane accumulation of chemicals and plastic that won't biodegrade for hundreds of years.

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There is no good system for baby clothing. Fumbling at tiny little snaps in the middle of the night: no good. Zippers that risk pinches on baby skin: no good. Elastic-bottomed gowns that ride up under baby's armpits: no good. A day after Gabriel was born, at 7 in the morning, our pediatrician (very nicely) laughed at our totally botched job of snapping up Gabriel's pajamas, while we tried to appear totally casual and with it despite being utterly groggy in our rumpled hospital gear.

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Speaking of which: those same pajamas, which swamped his little body that first day, were so quickly outgrown that at 4 weeks we could barely button them. Gabriel weighed 14 pounds at 6 weeks and 15 pounds 3 ounces at his two month checkup. I knew we'd have a big baby, but wow!

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I spend a lot of the day hoping that Gabriel will fall asleep so I can get something done, but then he'll fall asleep in my arms or on my chest, and that feeling is so delicious that I just hold him and stare at him, and still don't get anything done.

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I had no idea just how chest-explodey Gabriel's first smiles would make me. Those first fleeting times that he smiled AT US were so fantastic that we became big goofballs in efforts to make him keep doing so, but of course he just regarded us with his serious tiny baby face. Now he smiles much more often, and it still makes you drop everything and grin like a fool back at him.

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We leave for Washington, Boston, and Barcelona in a week. While Gabriel is already relatively well-traveled, I'm kind of overwhelmed by the idea of a 12-hour car ride and a 12-hour plane trip. The amount of stuff, for one, and then the crying, for another. But as with many things in life, I know that it'll happen and it'll be fine because, well, it's just what we've gotta do. We're looking forward to introducing Gabriel to everyone back in Barcelona, especially his 95-year-old great grandmother. We're going to throw him a heck of a party and invite everyone we know.

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In case you don't know, we've decided to come back to Indiana after the summer. As much of a hurry as I was in to leave this place when it meant marrying M. and heading to Europe, I'm discovering that it's pretty great here, and there's a lot to be said for small town life when you have a kid. We're going to learn the ropes of city living with an infant, too, this summer, but I'm guessing we'll be relieved to be back here. And it'll be with a SIX-MONTH old. (Alert: motherhood cliché ahead.) It's already going too fast.

2 comments:

Mommy said...

While you are there, take advantage of the MCPL children's librarians - they are pretty great, and have some fantastic storytimes. I have found them great for introducing me to new fun literature for the little ones as well as reminding me of all those great nursery rhymes and games that I have forgotten over the years. Happy mothering - he looks fantastic! - Katie

BlancaMcleroy1230 said...

how do u do?