Saturday, July 9, 2011
I haven't spent enough time writing about Baby K since he was born, already six months ago. I'd say the process of integrating a second child into your life, your every thought, your future plans, and even correspondence with others is gradual, or has been for me at least. I don't know if this is universal. I've heard plenty people say that, while pregnant, though you can't comprehend the ability to love a second child as much as you love your first, when the child is born, you find a whole nother heart's worth of love and affection for that second baby that equals the first. And I believe that it happens that way for many people. But for me, it really just took time.
K was born as precious as they come, complete with a triangle head and smushed nose, and skin so red that the pediatrician checked his blood count at one week old to make sure he was normal. And I rejoiced in holding him against me most of our entire stay in the hospital, so happy that he was finally on the outside and that I wasn't pregnant anymore and could pat his little booty and smell his milk breath. And all of that was normal and wonderful and lasted until I got home and saw the burden it was for the dink to not have my full attention almost ever, and as soon as I quit taking painkillers for my stitches, Baby K's complete monopolization of my person increased tenfold. He cried the entire day long, from 2 weeks old until 10 weeks or so, at which point his misery only slightly diminished. His daytime naps lasted only 15 minutes, unless he was attached to my breast, and his nighttime sleep consisted of 2-3 hour naps, which ended at 4 a.m. when the night's repeated nursings culminated in gas and reflux too unbearable to be settled by patting, swinging, swaying, singing, dancing, jumping, praying, or even more nursing. Needless to say, J and I were both exhausted, and D somewhat neglected. But the biggest problem then was that when K would cry, it didn't kill me like it should have. Maybe because I heard it so much. Maybe because D managed to cry louder, when I had been holding K in my arms from the time he got home from daycare until J arrived--about 4 hours. Or maybe because I was crying along with him half the time, wondering why I couldn't have a baby who could be set down long enough for me to make breakfast, or why he couldn't be held contentedly on my lap sitting down instead of needing to be bounced around all the time just to distract him from the misery of being awake, or being alive, I sometimes felt.
I can write this today without feeling like the worst mother in world only because K at six months is not the same baby I begrudgingly bounced at six weeks. And I am not the same mother. When K was 9.5 weeks, on Ash Wednesday, I went on an extreme elimination diet to try to resolve K's apparent gastrointestinal misery. And it worked...slowly. By 16 weeks or so, he finally started to take on human-like qualities, quit with the horrific gas and diarrhea, and even started smiling when I walked into the room. And so did I. And for the past two months, I have finally experienced the process that most new mothers go through in the first month of their baby's life--the obsessive, all-encompassing, uncontrollable love and compassion and every other good feeling in the world for that baby. To make him smile by doing something silly and then repeat it 50 times tirelessly, enjoying just the reward of that grin or laugh. To want to smell every inch of him and memorize it, making a mental catalog of tummy, breath, hair. To worry that he'll quit breathing at least once a night, if not a dozen. To sigh contentedly along with him as he falls asleep in your arms. To well up with tears at the slightest suggestion that harm could come his way. I just love that baby like crazy now. And I expect the dink to love his brother, in spite of taking away from his attention, because I need K to be happy just as much as I need D.
Today, it's like everyone told me before. You always have room to love one more. Once they're there, you won't remember life without them. God knows what he's doing, and there is no gift greater than life. Though well worth the wait to finally experience these feelings, it has been a process. But now I can finally say that we're healed, and it feels so good.