Monday, August 22, 2011

The New Baby

My second baby cries just like a baby. WAAH, he cries, squirming awake from a long, long sofa nap. WAAAH WAAAH WAAAH. His mouth turns down at the corners, his eyes are wet and confused. His misery is cartoonish, picture-perfect. WAAAH WAAAH WAAAH. The cries are sweet, almost conversational, and they make my heart contract sharply. I lift him into my arms, bury my nose in his soft, sweet-smelling, dark hair. He is different from his brother, though I'm not sure how yet. He's still so new, so far from who he will be. Also, as much as I'd like to believe otherwise, I've already mostly forgotten what his brother was like at this brand-new, larval stage, so I cannot quite say for sure, This is like, or This is unlike.

WAAAH WAAAH WAAAH, he cries, and I cuddle him to my chest. He is still too young to cuddle back. I do not know who he is yet, but I love him, fiercely, deeply. I weep as I nurse him, picking up where he leaves off, wanting only to be closer, to never let him go.

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Conversation

Me: Hey. Are you busy?

My husband: Not especially. I can talk for a few minutes. What's up?

Me: Well, I've been know how we always say that how crazy all of the Jackson kids are is proof that Joe Jackson was abusive?

My husband: Yeah, I guess.

Me: You know, because we're always like, it's impossible that they would ALL end up so fucked up without serious wrongdoing on at least one parent's part, right?

Him: Right.

Me: Well, I was thinking...maybe we're wrong. Maybe it's just genetics.

Him: What do you mean?

Me: Well, Joe Jackson was obviously crazy right?

Him: Yeah, batshit.

Me: Well, so his kids are crazy too. They inherited it. You know, genetics.

Him: Hmmm. I guess so. I mean, it must be a little of both, no?

Me: Yeah, of course. A little column A and a little column B. It's just I had never thought of the genetics angle before.

Him: How did you happen to think of this?

Me: Well, I just overheard someone on the street talking about robins -

Him: Robins?

Me: Yeah, you know, the birds. Robins. So I overheard someone talking about robins, and I thought of the song Rockin' Robin, and then I got to thinking about the Jackson Five, and then Joe see?

Him: Ah, of course. I love you.

Me: I love you too.

Him: You should post this on your blog.

Me: Maybe. It's not so interesting though.

Him: I take it the baby is asleep?

Me: Yeah, he's in the sling. We're walking across to the green train on 125th Street to go to work.

Him: Well, have a good day.

Me: You too. See you tonight.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Four Theoretical Ways to Be Productive While Your Baby is Napping

1. Fold and put away the clothes piled on the chair in the bedroom and on the desk in the nook by the closet.

2. Finish up one of the million partially-written blog posts that are slowly rotting in your notebook and iPad - one with actual sentences and paragraphs.

3. Catch up on the sleep you missed while nursing the baby and cuddling the big boy when they woke each other up last night.

4. Prep fruit and vegetables for the big boy's after-school snack and for dinner.

Four Actual Ways to Be Unproductive While Your Baby is Napping

1. Paint nails.*

2. Watch X Files.

3. Ignore partially-written blog posts with sentences and paragraphs, and post a couple of not-particularly-amusing-or-insightful lists instead.

4. Post a photo of your breakfast on Facebook.

*This one is extra-special unproductive, because you do it at the tail end of the baby's nap, so that your nails are not fully dry when the baby wakes, and thus smudge and chip immediately.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Question for the Universe at Large

Am I alone in feeling that there are times when it seems not only desirable but also perfectly reasonable to open a bottle of wine and drink a glass or two at 8:30 in the morning?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Labor Story: Nuts

When I was having my first baby, I read in all the natural childbirth books and heard from all the doulas and prenatal yoga teachers and childbirth educators and so on that it was important to eat during labor. Nuts were often mentioned as an example of a good, nutritious labor snack, so, wanting to do things right, I packed a baggie of almonds in my labor bag.

Somewhere in the middle of my three-day labor, my doula dug the almonds out. "You have to eat something," she said. I shook my head in a nauseous, confused haze. "Just one almond." She held it up between her index finger and thumb. "Eat just this one almond. Please. You can do it."

I wanted to be a good student - my doula also being my prenatal yoga instructor - so I ate my one almond, and it was awful. It was dry and papery, falling apart between my teeth and crumbling over my tongue in the most unappetizing way. I wanted to spit it out, but I didn't want my doula to reprimand me, so I swallowed as quickly as I could and did not eat another.

Later, I saw my doula eating cashews from her own snack stash. The cashews looked beautifully plump and oily, the exact antithesis to my awful papery almonds. It was suddenly obvious: cashews are the Perfect Labor Snack I cursed my stupidity: why had I not brought cashews instead of almonds? Maybe my doula saw my envious look, because she offered to share. But I would rather have died than take her snack away from her, so I just shook my head and tried to forget it. Next time, I thought, I will bring cashews.

Over the three-plus years that passed before I had my second baby - the baby in my arms right now - I often reminded myself of the almond debacle. Remember, I told myself, to have cashews ready for when you are in labor. They are the Perfect Labor Snack. Accordingly, about four weeks before my due date, I bought a container of cashews and hid them in my labor bag, which was finally for me after over two years of service to other women. I couldn't wait to eat my cashews during the coming labor, the second labor that would correct all the errors of the first.

This time, labor was not three days, but seven hours. About four hours in, my midwife said, "You should eat something," and I directed my husband to the hidden cashew stash. He gave me two or three cashews, and I chewed, waiting for Perfect Labor Snack ecstasy to hit me. But there was no ecstasy. The cashews were awful. They were dry and papery, and they fell apart under my teeth and crumbled over my tongue. I swallowed them as quickly as I could and did not eat any more for the duration of the labor.