Luke turned one-month old on Monday. It seems like so much longer. I wonder if that's how most new parents feel or whether the first two weeks of his life have thrown our perspective out of whack. It just seems like we've already been through so much with him because, well, we have. It's strange -- on one hand I feel like I've always known him, or at least like I can't remember what life was like without him. On the other hand, I'll find myself in moments completely forgetting about him. For just a second, usually when I'm reading, I'll slip away. Is that awful of me? It probably sounds awful, but I suspect it's totally normal. Because those fragments of time are just that -- fragments. Before long, I'm whisked back, either by a sudden thought about him or by some physical reminder, a cry or grunt, a burp cloth littering the floor, his bottles lining the kitchen counter, an ache in my breasts that means my milk is letting down. Something. And I like that. I like suddenly remembering that I have a son, realizing all over again how much my life has changed -- and how much for the better.
That's not to say that there aren't moments when I just want to... well, be left alone. I really enjoy caring for him, but it is certainly a round-the-clock sort of job. There are times when Jimmy's home when I put him in charge, sure, but I never feel truly detached. I suppose that's the way things will be for a long, long time. Probably the way things should be. It takes getting used to, though, being responsible all the time for such a helpless creature. He doesn't give me many true breaks during the day because he rarely wants to nap for more than an hour. That makes it hard to accomplish anything, including writing here. I'm writing now while listening to him on the monitor as he grunts in his sleep up in his crib. But getting to his point was took a few hours of work. After nursing him for more than an hour, I tried to put him down several times, but the first few didn't stick. After five minutes or so, he'd start crying. I'd go in, pick him up, and he'd tell me with his not-so-subtle cues -- attempting to jam his hands in his mouth but half the time hitting his nose -- that he was hungry. So I'd nurse him again, starting the process over.
What did I expect, right? Motherhood is hard and consuming. I know. I do wonder though if there's a way to get him to sleep a bit deeper at times. Part of the problem, I know, is gas. For instance, he will nurse until he's falling asleep, so I'll gently pull my nipple from his mouth and let him really begin to doze. At that point, I don't want to disturb him by sitting him up or throwing him on my shoulder to burp. So I'll let him be for a minute or two and then try to lie him down. Inevitably, this will result in him crying moments later with spit-up running down the side of his face. Or, during the night, he seems to go to sleep but he grunts through it. And I mean, he grunts -- loud, animal, painful-sounding grunts. Like there's a witches' cauldron bubbling inside his stomach. So I guess the lesson is that burping is a must-do, whether he's sleeping or not, even if it means disturbing him momentarily.
But outside of when and how deeply he sleeps, we're slowly working some routine into our days. The key word there -- slowly. Two things have become somewhat standard. I bathe him in the morning, a ritual he seems to enjoy. He cries at first when I lower him into the sink, but once I get the warm wash cloth over his belly and start splashing the water over him, he stops and grows quiet and calm. I love wrapping him up afterward in his towels, snuggling him in close to keep him warm and cozy. I love rubbing the water out of his hair, leaving it soft and impossibly fuzzy. I love getting a whiff of his clean baby scent when he's all dressed, and I love feeling the ridiculous soft skin of his fattening cheeks when I pick him up to give him a kiss. It's become my favorite part of the day. We also take a walk almost every day. He seems to enjoy that as well, usually snoozing as we both enjoy the fresh air. Today he stayed wide eyed the entire time as we walked downtown, where it was bike night. He stared at the cars and motorcycles zooming by like he was in a trance.
So we're getting the hang of things. We're starting to find our rhythms. The hospital and surgery seem like such distant memories, like they have nothing to do with our lives now. I suppose they don't, really, since Luke is doing so perfectly well. He's up to seven pounds, six ounces. You'd never know he has had open-heart surgery. Most days, I don't really think about it, actually. I'm too busy enjoying him and figuring out how to care for him, care for me, as well as find time in the day to reflect and pray and write and run and eat and sleep and bathe and talk to my husband and clean. Sometimes I feel like such a Susie homemaker, just another suburban housewife and mother looking for that "balance." But mostly, I just feel happy and blessed and fulfilled. Really.
I laid on my couch this afternoon as Luke quietly nursed and sunlight poured through my front window and the soft sounds of an active neighborhood filtered through the open front door. I had nothing else to do, nowhere to be, nothing to think about except the little baby in my arms. Time stood still. It might sound boring or mundane; last fall, it would have sounded that way to me, too. But in that moment, to me now, it felt like the definition of serenity. I know every moment with a child will not feel so peaceful -- far from it. But the ones that do make smile to myself in a way I don't know if I ever did before. Like the universe has told me a secret that no one else could ever understand the way I can. It's such a sweet, pure feeling. It overrides everything else in the best possible way.