Week three, I’m worried, will be the achilles heel in my parenting game. Scott is back at work and my daily goal has been reduced from getting at least six hours of sleep to just trying to avoid the three of us, Avalon, Isla and I, crying at the same time. Day one: goal not accomplished.
I took Avalon to school and, upon sight of the swing set, her favorite thing, she burst into tears and tried to make a break for the car. I forgot her “Golly Goll” dog stuffed animal at home and her water bottle leaked all over the car. I left my puddle of a child with her teacher and cried myself to the car, where Isla too, became hysterical.
People are always talking about how good babies’ heads smell. Why do my babies’ heads smell like a finished plate of Mexican food? Like Taco Bell on its way to the trash? The other night I was nursing Isla at some small hour of the night and I could not stop smelling her head and laughing. But then again, there I was soaked in milk and spit-up and sweat, so maybe that old sour cream smell was, in fact, me (update-it was me).
Here I am with my second newborn. She drinks milk, she sleeps well, she cries often. She’s a lot like my first baby. She’s a lot like most babies. And yet, I’m not the mom I was before. Or maybe this time I am a mom whereas last time I was a human becoming one.
I trust my instincts. The baby crying just doesn’t collapse me like it used to. I have perspective this time. I know how to tie the Solly wrap. I know how to assemble the breast pump. I know not to expect too much. I have Avalon as a beacon reminding me that this newborn thing turns out alright. A fussy baby doesn’t translate into an unpleasant person and a person is only a baby for the shortest time.
Isla is magnificent though. I worry sometimes I haven’t been allowing myself to feel it all-all the magnitude of her because I keep telling myself I don’t have time to become an emotional pile of sand. Sometimes I wonder if it’s because there is this small part of me that feels like I’m cheating on Avalon when I allow such grandiose feelings for someone else so akin to her.
I do often picture Isla coming to my chest for the first time though. It felt like there was this whole new light to the room and I know that sounds kind of daydreamy and dramatic, but when I see that moment she became a person to us, the room is so remarkably bright and I am so euphoric, like a kid who actually caught Santa coming down the chimney or an adult who caught a glimpse of heaven.
I was walking Isla around our neighborhood in the carrier this morning when I started thinking something that occurred to me after I had Avalon. Your life comes back to you in pieces after having a baby. And when the pieces are put together the picture looks different than it used to, but you’re still there and so are all the things you love and then, somehow, more.
Isla is three weeks old today. I don’t want to jinx it, but I’m sleeping remarkably better than I was last time I had a newborn and I’m not even giving credit to the baby. I’m giving it to myself (and maybe to Zoloft)! After I nurse Isla at night I am like a dude. My head hits the pillow and I’m already in REM sleep. I’ve observed my dad and Scott doing this for years, always with a twinkle of jealousy in my eye.
Two years ago last Saturday marked Maddie’s colon cancer diagnosis. Tuesday, she went for her annual colonoscopy and it came back… clear! Fine! Healthy! Carry-on-and-don’t-come-back-for-three years- a-ok! I want for nothing. This is it.
Ok, I’d probably take a three hour nap 0r a free nanny if given the opportunity, but I am getting away from the point.
Two years ago the best and worst things happened simultaneously. I had my first daughter and my baby sister got diagnosed with cancer. Two years have passed and Avalon has become a toddler, I’ve had my second daughter and Maddie has made the biggest transformation of all-she has become the strength of our family. Not the smallest one, or the girl afraid to swim in the ocean, but the one who had to be the bravest and undergo the toughest thing and, therefore, taught all of us that we could also be strong and do hard things.
This morning when I was at Isla’s tongue and lip untying procedure I saw this quote on the waiting room TV screen: “To reach a port we must sail- sail, not tie at anchor-sail, not drift.” -Franklin D. Roosevelt
Maddie taught us how to sail.