Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Baby Love, My Baby Love

Arlo is here and 9 weeks old already!  Becoming a mother twice over has cracked open my gratefulness farther than I ever thought possible in this life.  Gone are the pregnancy days, and happily so this time around, and now I am back in the land of diapers and milk.  And back in my regular jeans - hallelujah!

The anticipatory questions I had about how it would look to extend my heart and energy to another child when for over six years I have circled around Noah, are answering themselves.  More children equals more love for everyone!  I am so relieved to affirm this, because I had received warnings and cautions before and during my pregnancy, about Noah feeling abandoned and left behind.  I was afraid that I would have to turn away from Noah to turn toward another child.  That the love pie was only so big, and more people would mean less love per slice for all of us.  Is there a fairness formula for giving love among children?  So the exhale on this issue is an especially welcome one, to trust that having a second child can be framed, and in fact be seen as, a joyous occasion to a first child, and to all of us in the family.  Even taking into account the earlier moments in Arlo's time with us when Noah would hide in the shower or go headfirst under his blankets in bed when the baby cried, Noah is happy that Arlo is in the family.  In fact, for several weeks now Noah has been volunteering that he wants us to have another child so he can have a little sister too.  Clearly he is not too distressed by having a baby in the house.

One night at the dinner table Matthew asked Noah if he could remember what it was like before Arlo was with us.  Noah immediately answered "Yes, I remember!"  Matthew prompted him to describe it, and Noah said, "It was a little bit lonelier."  My heart melted quietly in my chest as I sat across from him.

Going back into the baby zone has also pitched me into long, quiet days when the baby sleeps and I go many hours without speaking with another adult.  So far, this has been remarkably acceptable.  I also already have had some of those dark moments of helplessness and frustration that I now remember so well from when Noah was an infant.  Those fabulous moments when I have all the answers for this little one's bubbles, tiredness, or discomfort, go hand-in-hand with those when I am helpless to do more than tell Arlo "I'm so sorry, I know you can do it, you can get through it," while I try to continue breathing as he yells, red-faced, at the top of his lungs.

I have said to my husband a couple of times that we need to get out of the comparison business in terms of our children, in that has been a common conversation for us to say to each other, "Noah did this same thing, Noah was not like this at all," etc.  While of course our parenting expertise comes from our experience with Noah, Arlo is Arlo.  And he is, too.  He laughs in his sleep, and gives us a pirate look by squinting one eye and opening the other, and smiles out of one side of his mouth.  He is extremely gassy, and makes noxious smells.  He can be a total crier.  He has a full head of beautiful dark hair and always keeps his fists balled up by his face when he is sleeping.  I have fallen in love again with all of it, in the way that it is with children and no one else.  The deliciousness of his details are all his own, and all my own to witness, as his mother.

I recently read a wonderful writing about how each of the author's children believed that he or she was the author's favorite child, and how they all were right.  This mother could list all of her favorite things about each of her children, and they were things to which her other children couldn't hold a candle.  I felt the zing of insight in both directions - looking back at my own life, and looking forward at my boys'.  Being one of three children myself, the youngest of all girls, I was finally able to replace the confusing dichotomy of the memory of my oldest sister once telling me bitterly how I always got what I wanted, on one hand, with my perception of going unseen at times, on the other.  The truth as I see it now is that my mother loved and loves each of us specially.  That this is the way it is for mothers, and the way it will be for me.  My own boys will continue to amaze me in their own ways.  Noah will always be my first baby.  And Arlo will always be my last.  Two boys, exponential love.