i guess i wasn’t quite prepared for all the heartache that intertwines its hands with the sweet joy that comes along with being a parent. it seems there are no more frivolous decisions in our world – everything is weighed and considered and researched. our good intentions (for example, only using cloth diapers, not giving phoenix a pacifier, letting him feed on demand instead of on a schedule) are all pitted against practicality and sage advice and 4am desperation. as dawn crept into our bedroom on a night which could best be described as our first foray into severe sleep deprivation, dev and i discarded our bradley method training of absolutely no artificial nipples, and gave phoenix a pacifier that we’d received as a gift. i remember opening that present and smugly thinking “ha, we are not going to need this”. but there we were, at 6am, reaching for whatever it was would give us a moment of respite. and though phix took the pacifier and promptly fell asleep, i lay awake feeling incredibly guilty, spending the next two hours researching pacifier pros/cons with a heavy heart.
every afternoon my mother (who has chosen her grandmother name to be ‘mamani’) gives phoenix a little bath in our kitchen sink. she likes this time of day because its warmer, and if there was a ever a temperature monitor in our house it would be mamani. she’s constantly swaddling our boy, making sure his head is covered and admonishing me for not keeping his feet warm enough. there are only a three things my mum won’t tolerate – and those are: drafts, throwing away things that can be recycled, and electrical appliances that make excess noise (case and point: she refuses to use our dryer and so our backyard now has string affixed from tree to tree as a makeshift clothesline). together we place phoenix into the water, wriggly feet first. it takes him a second to adjust to the new sensations but then he relaxes his little body, closes his eyes and luxuriates.
in conclusion, even though she dresses my child for alaskan climes, i *love* having my mama here.
our midwife warned me that this would happen. that a certain sadness would creep in as my hormones readjusted after pregnancy. she explained that post-partum depression fell along a spectrum, that some mothers might just feel a bit blue for a couple of days and on the other end of there was severe depression. she told me that i too would fall somewhere along this bell curve and assured me that it was totally natural. and although i listened and nodded, i wasn’t prepared for the swell of emotions that hit me this week. on monday, after rox and ryan left, mum was out with her cousin and it was just phix and i at home. it was the first time the two of us had ever been home alone and we were both soaking in the quiet peacefulness of our house. i began to nurse and started and to think about the moment i found out i was pregnant. that memory was a catalyst for tears that began tumbling down my cheeks and falling on phoenix’s little face. i couldn’t stop crying. and so, every day since, in the late afternoons and early evenings i’ve felt that sadness arrive and linger. the lump in my throat gets lodged and i feel fragile and tender. i want to curl up in a ball and cry until there are no tears left. and though my rational mind knows there’s no reason for it, my emotions tell me that i’m crying for all.the.reasons.combined. i cry because this love i feel for my child is too intense and overwhelming. and i cry because every child is loved in this way and yet in our war-torn world we can be so fickle with how we value other lives. and i cry because i am not sure i will ever take a long shower again. and i cry because i have no idea what sort of immunization schedule to follow. i cry for the incredible women i know that long to be mothers and yet cannot have children of their own. i cry because i watched the kony video. and then i cried because of all the controversy surrounding it and blurring the real issue – that no child should ever live in fear. i cry because phoenix’s lips are too beautiful and perfect and one day they will be kissed by others than me. i cry because in phoenix’s dad i have found my true partner and i can’t imagine.my.life.without.him.
and then morning comes, and the sadness retreats, and in its place is my eager excitement to nuzzle my boy and kiss his cheeks a thousand times. quite often i will catch phoenix as he ‘sleep-smiles’ and in those moments i feel strong enough to take on all the sadness in the world, because what i have at arm’s reach is so perfect.