Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Management Meltdown

Roughly three hours before my first labor contraction hit, The Boss had a precognitive existential crisis. She was sitting on our bed as The Partner and I nested our way through a much needed pick-up of the bedroom. Maybe it was witnessing this act of cleaning that shocked her system--so foreign was the idea of seeing her mother with a duster in one hand and vacuum in the other--more than intuition of the imminent arrival of a sibling, but whatever the cause, it's safe to say that The Boss freaked out.

"It's not fun being bigger and older!" she shrieked suddenly. It came out of nowhere. She rose to her feet on the semi-firm mattress and threw herself prone. "It's not fun!" She was screaming again, and rising again. Then she threw herself back. She was crying.

"What's wrong, honey?" The Partner and I both climbed onto the bed with her, patting and consoling and wondering. We had hazy notions of what troubled her, but we wanted her to articulate it. We wanted to say the right things back.

She probably wanted words, too. But all that came out was I don't know.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Boss's New Hire

The Boss was expecting a sister named Tallulah. Though we did not find out the sex of the impending arrival and did not have a name lined up, The Boss's conviction was firm. There was a Tullalah in mommy's tummy.

When we pulled into our driveway after the short stay in the hospital, our first born was waiting on the front lawn. I powered down my window and waved at the girl who had seemed to have aged at least two years in the two days we'd been gone. Her hair was carefully plaited by nana; her long legs were showcased in shorts that had been taken out of the attic in a box of clothing I had, until now, been unable to conceptualize her fitting into.

"Is Topher with you?" The Boss asked. I couldn't tell from her tone what answer she was hoping for.

"Yes!" I enthused, in reinforcement of the positive. I gestured in exaggerated sweeps to her brother in the back seat. "He's right here waiting for you!"

"Oh," said The Boss. She was perched on a slope of grass that was mostly green and dotted in places with the detritus of pre-winter foliage. She rocked back on her heels. This time I saw concern in the midst of slow-growing enlightenment.

Her eyes were huge and blue. Her chin was square where it lowered with the weight of words about to emerge from shining lips.

The truck was still moving up the driveway. I craned my neck out my window, waiting.

"Where's Tallulah?" The Boss asked.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Baby Boy Blues

There's something refreshing about the way leaking bodily fluids can ground a situation in reality. I realized that first thing this morning, when blood lurching down my leg necessitated a pant change, and then again when my son's explosive poop transferred some of itself to my chest and forced me into a new shirt. I was off and running from the very start of the day, and I was glad about it. I would've remained in the surreal without those diversions. I would've been free to get mopey and maudlin and to cry all day. I do not like the hormonal haze. Apparently I prefer poop.

When The Boss was born I was surprised by the baby blues. I had heard about them, but like everything else related to actually raising a child as opposed to gestating one, I ignored the warnings and advice. Then an emergency c-section under general anaesthesia exacerbated an already compromised mental situation and I was a blubbering mess for three weeks and not-quite-myself for three months. This time around, I've been counting on the fact that many women do not get those blues as badly with subsequent children as they did with the first.

So far, the feeling is more muted than it was the first time around. It's also easier to keep it at bay when faced with the demands of raising two children. But it's there. It's the idea that life is so damn short and there's nothing that can be done about it. It's uncertainty when you'd think a little confidence would be more evolutionarily beneficial. But it's fleeting and I know that now. Emotions will be replaced to a large degree by the physical pace of keeping up with my babies. Pre-school and diapers. Swing sets and burp cloths. Six weeks of extra absorbent sanitary pads.

There will be blood. (And poop)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

It's a Boy

Topher's minutes-old fingers were scaly-white and wizened. As I held him for the first time, I marveled at the similarity between those hands and the wrinkled ones of my grandparents, of my great aunts and uncles. I touched the creases. He was my little old man in a hospital room that buzzed with being born.

Two days later, on the morning of our departure, I held my son in my lap while The Partner showered in the bathroom. I had given birth on the very same bed, in the very same room, but now it seemed a different place in the sun and the silence. I saw the brightness of Topher's finger flakes and thought again about how old his new parts shone.

I cried then, not just with a hormonal surge, but with the pressure of an entire lifetime laid out on a tiny pair of hands. I sobbed so loud and long that The Partner heard me from behind the heavy institutional door. He emerged from the bathroom to ask what I was crying about.
"Nothing," I said. "Nothing."

Christopher Cadden, I love you so much, and forever. Because of you, I count ten fingers and ten toes, and while I do it I say a desperate prayer. I try to grasp with my own hands the texture of your future, laid out in deep bisects and powdery whorls.
As I cry I am doing it all at once in wet wishing for your long life.
I am begging for you a collection of years strung together in personalized perfection between the first wrinkles and the last.