Boobs boobs boobs boobs.
The fourth trimester is almost over.
Sometimes in the mirror I can see a network of blue veins beneath my skin-they start around my collar bone and spread, a web, before focusing again at the nexus of my nipples. Again and again the physicality of this new life. My body! I am in my body. My boobs are at times satisfyingly round and straining the edge of my bra, but they are so clearly functional—industrial even. Worker bees. I continuously forget a nursing pad when I sit down to feed him. The boy on one boob triggers the other, and without a pad (or a towel or a paper towel or one of his shirts lying within reach) the milk runs down my side and collects at my waistline. I have milk spots in the middle of most of my shirts. I can’t fudge laundry anymore; once I have worn a thing it can not be worn again. It is milk after all, and it smells just as bad when it turns. The scent surprises me sometimes in new places, like the sleeve of a sweater. Also behind the boy’s ears. Although on him it’s different because I smell it most when he is nuzzling his face into my neck.
The varicose vein behind my knee that began in college is officially much bigger. A speckle of tiny spider veins is visible up and down my legs. And across my body I have more moles and spots then I did before, all appearing in the last year since I first became pregnant.
Sometimes when he is nursing he rests the palm of his hand flat on my boob. Sometimes when I go to kiss his head, he swivels and it lands in his neck. Sometimes these motions fire currents into the parts of me reserved for lovers, for B. I’ve been ashamed of these whiffs of arousal but I confessed them finally to B. and he thinks it’s just the body doing what it does; autopilot triggers beyond my control. I know that this intimacy between the boy and I is fleeting and that after these few years of childhood I won’t ever again know his body as I do now. Nor he mine. I wonder when it will be that he will be too old for us to take baths together. Once I was at the house of a family friend and their young daughter called to me from the bathroom. When I stepped in she was sitting on the toilet and she told me she was ready for help wiping. It wasn’t the fact of her needing help that surprised me but that she would have been fine with me doing this for her. Walking in my neighborhood, I look at boys of eight, of thirteen, young men of twenty and try to imagine the boy at these ages. I spotted one ten year old pushing another, and taunting him. Which will my boy be on any given day? Will he tell me?
Sometimes I crave B.’s touch as a counter to all this mothering, and sometimes I want no one to touch me at all, and sometimes I want us all to nuzzle into each other like a stack of spoons.
I’m unsure if the boy still needs constant comfort or if it is good for him for me to step away and let him be alone to look out a window and smile at no one in particular. I know a few moms with their second kids and I see their babies doing fine when they walk away but I’m still caught by the impossible goal of trying to prevent him any distress at all. Something I fail at every day anyway, judging by the volume of his cries and the glare he’s been giving me from the car seat on this road trip.
That thing still happens in the middle of night when he wakes me up; I feel as if he is literally in my arms and I freeze, afraid to move, to roll onto him, to drop him. I feel his form in my hands but it’s as if I can’t find him, and I search in the sheets until I am awake enough to understand he is beside me in the bassinet. And then this new thing…with my eyes closed I feel as if I am myself a baby, not that I am literally an infant, but like I am being held as a babe is held, as I hold him. I feel the arms cradling me and sense eyes gazing and hear the sounds of being soothed. This is at night, but also in the bright quiet afternoon when I close my eyes.
B. right now holding the boy and rocking him back into a nap. The sound of very light rain on the trees of our friend’s orchard. Why do any of us have to work ever? Our rhythms have continued to smooth and we’re sharing the care of him ever more seamlessly. I tell myself it’s going to be fun to get into an outfit and roll the boy downtown and meet B. for lunch. Which I know it will be. But what happens when the quiet of the house becomes too quiet and I can’t get myself out the door? What happens when my part time hours start and we’ve had a sleepless night and B. is not there to help? And there’s this whole new realm of money sharing coming our way. My mother keeps telling me my job is to care for the boy, and everyone else’s job is to care for me. I’ve never let B. care for me in so many ways before. Many of our fights of these last two and a half months were triggered by me feeling guilty for not doing enough and picking at him to cover up this guilt. And now financially too. I’ve always kept my money private and we’ve functioned almost as two roommates would with shared bills. Our only truly joint ventures have been our travels. I keep calling the boy our biggest adventure, so maybe I can think of it that way.
In college I read one radical feminist who argued an idea along the lines that the care of house and children could be literally quantified and that it’s a societal responsibility to reimburse women financially for that work. My worth is certainly not going to be determined by my salary, although I’ve never really made enough money for it to give much satisfaction. Not since I was a bartender at least, making the most I’ve ever made in my early twenties. When we get home from this trip, we’re going to have to start prepping for B.’s new work, and I suppose mine too.
This trip has seen a few milestones: Hiking with the boy, me driving the boy alone, the boy’s first wedding, and…the very first time the boy has woken up from a nap while B. and I were still having sex. We didn’t stop and as B. said, “That’s a new life experience,” because yes, we finished (albeit quickly) while the boy howled in the other room.
Oh yes, and the boy is rolling! It’s a huge deal and he is exceedingly proud of himself.