One Month

abigailduckieDear Abigail –

It’s the law of the Internet, at least if you possess a vagina and a baby and a URL, that you compose a letter to your kid to mark the milestones. I’m a law-abiding citizen, but I’m pretty sure I’d write this to you even if I feared some sort of Bad Mama penalty for not doing so.

You’re a month old, kid. Let me ask you something: How in the fuck did that happen?

I’ll say that when you’re my age, God willing, but at this moment I can’t believe we’re a month into the mission that is Growing Up with Abigail. We’ve had four weeks of the following:

1) Analyzing human poop

2) Sleep in four-hour increments, if we’re lucky

3) Cheeks. Oh your cheeks. Your cheeks are the talk of Facebook, they are so full and delicious and adorable.

4) Development of a preference to baby attire – we are firmly in the One-Piece-Zipper camp here

5) Baby spit-up all over my Trinity College t-shirt, the same one Glinny barfed all over when she was a wee thing.

Here is the thing about becoming someone’s Mama – it’s hard, at least it was for me. Every step of the way, it’s been hard, including getting you here, and mothering you has turned out to be even more complex and difficult than I thought it would be. And make no mistake – we wanted you more than we can say. And we never saw you as another chapter in what the life of two educated yuppies should contain, but I don’t know that anything can prepare you for what happens to two people’s lives when you add a baby to it.

We love you more than we’re possibly able to articulate, but we miss being able to just eat dinner and watch TV before you need us again, without it feeling like we’re contestants in our very own Ninja Warrior: Baby Edition. We try and try to get through it but somehow it never happens. Eventually we’ve come to understand that there are other things that are more important, or at least that make losing that part of our lives more palatable, and it’s this:


Seriously. You cannot fathom the kick in the pants it is to be sitting on a late Friday afternoon, ass numb from sitting in a glider all day because you’ve been cradling a napping baby on your chest, and look down and see this face just inches from your own. At your age, the experts tell us this ain’t a real smile. At least not one that is meant to express sentiment. All the same, it made my stomach leap in a way that it hasn’t since I first laid eyes on your father six years ago.

I would give up all of the uninterrupted dinners in the world for this face, whether it’s smiling or not.

But you should know: your daddy and I are going to want to have a dinner or two together again someday. We really like each other, and that’s a good thing.

You’re an easy-going baby, and with that phrase I’ve doomed our next month, I know. But it’s true, you are. Any issues we have are our issues, not yours. I supposed they would be even if you were plagued with baby drama, but in this case, you’re about as low-maintenance as they come. Our days look like this:

Dad wakes up with you, as he takes the last “late-night” shift, which only means feeding you a bottle and falling asleep with you for the next four hours. You and I cuddle in bed together, sleeping just a bit longer until you demand chow. Your dad or I get it for you, feed you and then you hang out with your dad while I get us ready for our day. After your morning nap, then the fun begins.

Me, you and Glinny head off to my room, where we lie on the bed together, looking at shapes and patterns, kicking our feet, getting kisses from Glinny and reading stories together. Today you managed to grab a rattle a few times, and then it was all too much. It was time for a bath, some more food and then more napping.

You really do sleep and eat like a champ. Your appetite is legendary in our little family, and I admire the gusto to which you approach each meal. You only burp if patted firmly – none of that gentle rubbing for you – and once you’ve let out a few good ones, well, you’re all set for another couple of hours.

Mama figured out that the best course of action to get her a couple of hours unencumbered is to set off on the afternoon on a long walk or a car ride – you love the motion and you tolerate the car seat pretty well. You seem to enjoy yourself, and I don’t mind the time to my own space until your dad gets home from work and we’re one big happy unit again.

This has been hard for me – your need to be near me at all times. No one really prepared me for the possibility of having a kid like that. It’s not that you don’t like anyone else – you’re kind of a cuddle addict – but I’m the one you’re with the most, the one who seems to settle you fastest. Your need to constantly be with me was probably the one element to our relationship that vexed me most in your first week.

Oh but now. I see what an honor it’s been to have this, to be this person who is with you so closely and so often. I know when you’re serious about sleep – both arms, hands clenched in fists, rise up near your ears. I know you’re still gassy when you cry after you’re done with the bottle, because you’re usually so damn happy after a good eat that you pass out from the comfort it brings. I know that feeling.

I was the first person to catch the dimple on your cheek. And I know that your preferred sleeping position is on your belly with your face turned to the side, even though technically you should love sleeping on your back. You don’t. You hate it. We find ways to compromise. I let you fall asleep that way and then strategically adjust you so that I don’t get paranoid about something bad happening.

abigailmouthYesterday you started to gum my face with your mouth, and I noticed you were happy to just rest your cheeks on my mouth. Your sweet, milky breath near my face was probably the closest to God I’ve ever been and it’s a wonder that I got lucky enough to experience it.

So here I am. Spending my time doing nothing more than resting with you, hugging you and taking care of you. I look forward to it each day, even though the days seem to blend into each other without an actual beginning or end. You won’t sleep on your own just yet, and while this element to parenting you isn’t easy, it dawned on me last week that one day you won’t want to be that close to us, that close to me. One day you’ll be 16, and you’ll want me to get bent, and I’ll cry when you’re not looking, remembering this time, when being away from us for just seconds was more than you could bear.

We’ve given up the ghost on getting you to sleep on your own but we’re confident it’ll come someday. Already you’ve stopped losing your mind every time we change your diaper, after all. And we can put you in the co-sleeper or the pack-and-play so we can use the bathroom or get you a bottle and you won’t fuss. Sometimes we’ll head back to you and find you enjoying yourself in there. We don’t have you on any strict schedule, though we tried that, too. You’re too young for anything regimented, but we think it’s good for our family that you take a bath at the same time every day, that you have awake time during the day with little activities, and that we go to bed at the same time.

Eventually when we do try and work on a more defined schedule, we hope it’ll be an easier transition for you. We’re schedule-y people, Abigail. You may or may not be, but as long as you live in this house, you’re going to have to adjust somewhat. We’ll find a middle ground.

This week you’ve taken to falling asleep on our chests, arms stretched wide so that you’ve spread nearly the whole expanse so that we can feel one of your tiny little hands on one of our sides. Right now you just finished a bottle with your Dad and you’ve nestled yourself up under his chin like this, your left hand in a fist, propped up under your chin, one of your chubby cheeks smooshed by the other fist. The whole process of this way of falling to sleep exhibits such a trust you have in us that I catch my breath. You slept like this on my chest today.

And then. And then you looked up, and I could have sworn you were looking at me. I mean really looking at me. Maybe you knew, maybe you didn’t. You’re so patient with me, you really are, and you trust us so much that you’ll just drape yourself all over me and your dad and not worry that we won’t hold you up as you use our torsos as a mattress. Maybe you do know.

I’m sorry you didn’t get a Mama for whom this was second-nature, for whom this all made perfect sense from the very start, for whom there weren’t days where she didn’t wonder if she wasn’t cut out to be a Mama at all. But you did get a Mama who loves you so completely, so totally, that she’ll work even harder to make it so you’ll never feel the difference. You did get a Mama who will always push herself to be and do more on your behalf, no matter how uncomfortable it makes her. You did get a Mama who would go to the ends of the earth for you, if that’s what you needed, even if she has no idea how she’s going to get there.

For you, I will always find a way. No matter how long it takes.