A blog about babies: the babies I lost, the babies I never had, the baby who made me a Mama.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Giving Thanks; or, Planning the Unplannable

It's way too early for us to be thinking about second (or later) children. And yet it's also only natural to say things like, "We'll do x/y/z when we have another one" or "In my next pregnancy I'll [blank]."

We still qualify with the infertile if. "If we have another child." "If I'm pregnant again." People must think that we're undecided about having more kids, when really we are (or I am) just careful after learning in a hard school not to count chickens. Don't want the universe to suspect we're making assumptions. No good ever comes of that.

But I did assume. I assumed we'd approach the task of giving Smudgie a sibling with the same dedication we went after parenthood in the first place: everything on the table and all our chips in. Now, after a brief, preliminary, and by no means definitive conversation with Lawyer Guy, I don't know anymore.

He wants a second child (and is possibly open to considering a third) but perhaps there are limits to what he'll do to have one, limits that didn't apply in the same way to the first. He suspects he wouldn't want to adopt. Or at least not to blithely assume it's a possibility for us without giving it serious thought. IVF also is a question mark.

I want Smudgie to have a brother or sister. I also love my husband and need him to be comfortable with any family-building method we choose. We've tabled these conversations until we actually need to have them (i.e., not for at least another year and likely even longer). But for the first time, I'm considering that Smudgie could wind up an only child, a scary proposition to someone with three siblings.

I feel angry that IF and loss are still rearing their heads in our lives, angry that we can't plan out our family with the railway timetable precision that so many of our family and friends can apply. I feel worried and a little sad that I may never have the family of my dreams. I feel tired at the thought of more ART and the tough conversations it inspires. I feel hopeful that we wont have to fight as hard this time, that we'll conceive again on our own and this time it will stick.

Mostly, though, I feel grateful for my son. I held him this weekend and stroked his unbelievably soft little velvety head. And I thought back to that conversation with LG when Smudgie woke me for an unexpected third time last night. Because this might be it. This might be my one shot at mommyhood, my one time with a newborn, and I don't want to miss or wish away a single moment of it.

I guess that's true for everyone. Maybe I should also feel grateful that I, at least, know it.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Remembrance Day

Sometimes when I think with excitement about how very much I have to learn about Smudgie over the beautiful decades of our lives together, I remember you and then I realize how much I know about him already.

I never got the chance to discover that you hiccup almost as much on the outside as you did on the inside-- at least four times a day all through the third trimester. I never felt your knees or elbows through the barrier of a tight swaddle and recognized their familiar pointiness from their poking against a very different kind of enclosure. I never compared your ultrasound images to your peacefully sleeping form, marveling at the little hands that extend above your head in your crib, just as they did before you were born.

I knew nothing, but I loved you anyway and missed you like my best friend when you were gone.

Today, two years later, I hold your sleeping little brother on my lap and don't know how to wish for anything more or anything different. When I look at him, I see perfection. But I don't want to say "It all turned out for the best' or "Everything happens for a reason." Because once upon a time you were here and then you weren't, and it broke my heart for me and for you. I wanted you to live and love and be happy. It is still so sad that you never got the chance to.

I wonder sometimes if I would love Smudgie in quite the exact way I do if it weren't for you coming and going first. I think of you when I look at him. I think of you when I hold him to my chest at night and kiss that smooth, precious place where his neck meets his shoulder.

Be at peace little one-- little ones. You are knit into the love that makes our family everyday. So you'll always be with us.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Calms and Storms; or, One Month!

A good friend (with a four month old daughter) sent me a care package after Smudgie was born, and in this package was a novel, A Big Storm knocked it Over by Laurie Colwin, an author I love. I spent the past week reading the novel in fits and spurts-- a few pages in bed before collapsing to sleep, a chapter or two in a coffee shop around the corner from my house, a big chunk lying on the floor of the bathroom while Smudgie chilled out in his bouncy chair, lulled to sleep by the bathroom fan and running shower (yes, it wastes both water and electricity, but it calms him down so that's that).

Toward the end of the book, I found a post-it note in the novel left by my friend. She wrote: "To me, this is the perfect description of mothering a newborn." The paragraph she described is this one:

Motherhood is a storm, a seizure: It is like weather. Nights of high wind followed by calm mornings of dense fog or brilliant sunshine that gives way to tropical rain, or blinding snow. Jane Louise and Edie found themselves swept away, cast ashore, washed overboard. It was hard to keep anything straight. The days seemed to congeal like rubber cement, although moments stood out in clearest, starkest brilliance. You might string these together on the charm bracelet of your memory if you could keep your eyes open long enough to remember anything (Colwin 225).

My little boy has had quite a stormy day, which succeeds the calmest and easiest night since he was born 1 month and 1 day ago. (So long a time! And so short!). He weighs 7 lbs 10 oz, which is almost two pounds more than when he was discharged from the hospital. He's awake for longer during the day and notices more and more-- lights shining through blinds, the orange hanging squirrel on his activity mat, his puppy sister Bella, his mommy's and daddy's eyes. He has formidable neck strength and is lulled to complacency (most of the time) by a running hairdryer. Last night, Lawyer Guy and I laid pillows and blankets on the floor of his room so we could run the hairdryer until Smudgie slept without worrying about burning his room down.

(I felt like a kid who had made a secret fort. We kissed under the blankets and it was one of those perfect moments I know I'll never forget).

I figured out how to get out of the house on my own-- snap the baby in his car seat, carry it down the stairs, negotiate getting stroller base/baby/diaper bag (and sometimes dog) out the door in shifts and down to the sidewalk and putting it all together, and then walk or meet a new friend or sit and eat lunch and read. It does make a difference to see the sunshine. The time passes faster until LG returns home.

And yesterday, on his One Month birthday, I thought that Smudgie gave me his first smile. We propped him against the boppy to photograph him and he looked right at me and smiled. I smiled back and he did it again, and I snapped this picture:

And then he pooped. A lot and loudly. Which is maybe also a metaphor for motherhood.

Looks like there's a stormy night ahead. I'd better go and get him from his daddy so we can batten down the hatches.