Saturday, April 7, 2012

Straining to Remember

Yesterday my little one turned five months old. He is, of course, the sweetest creature that ever breathed. (Not always, I admit. At 3 a.m. when he wakes up hot and hungry in the dark and wails loudly enough to bring the rafters down on our mattress, I pine for the the childless days.)

Five months. Such a short span. But already my arms have forgotten what it felt like to have nothing to hold. My brain has forgotten the feeling of a full night's sleep, settling instead for 'enough.' My eyes have forgotten what my apartment looks like when it's clean!

I strain even to remember the days of pregnancy, when my son was a nameless wonder unfolding in secret. I remember that I was nauseated, that I could not tie my shoes, and that for three months straight I slept on the couch, because nothing else would do. I remember, at the end, being all twisted with expectation, and eating pineapple until my tongue bled, because someone said it could help labor. I remember drinking gallons of raspberry leaf tea and running four miles on the treadmill, and really doing any foolish thing I read in an online discussion board that didn't seem outright dangerous.

I remember waking in the night, feeling like my whole body was clenched in a fist, as the tightening came over me. I could feel each one approach, like a wave at sea, a force that built and built, and thinking that it couldn't possibly happen so fast. That there was supposed to be a leisurely period at home, with this first child to be born. But it was not so.

I remember flying down Leesburg Pike in our serviceable Honda with the paint peeling off the bumper. I remember shaking and stumbling down a sanitized corridor in non-slip yoga socks, and realizing that labor isn't something you do, it's something that happens to you, like a hurricane, and you hold on and pray and know you will survive if you just. keep. breathing.

I remember a midwife saying that I must be very proud of myself, and it's time to push, and feeling elated and determined to kill the next person who touched me.

And I remember his cry, and the look of wonder on my husband's face, and the utter drained relief of knowing I had done it. This hardest thing. Gratitude and exhaustion and oh the desire to sleep.

It was dawn somewhere.

And then there was the little one, awake and a little blue and his face puffed like a little, wizened man, infinite in its freshness and its wisdom. Still nameless. But ours. Oh, ours.

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