Two months and eleven days.

I am only allowing myself ten minutes here tonight because the boy has been asleep nearly two hours which means I have two hours left, tops, before he first wakes up. I’ve been lying on the couch reading Divergent because young adult fiction is my version of watching reruns of The Golden Girls.

Also, I need to go look at the boy’s face. How long does this ache last? How does a mother ever let her child go off and do anything? He is not allowed to ever attempt to climb Everest. But in order for him to not want to, I’ll have to make sure to act like it would be no big deal. The defiance gene.

Our neighbor’s son is about to go to college, and he is surly and withdrawn like I remember myself being on hungover Sundays at the museum. (If I could only give back to my mother and grandmother every hour I was an asshole.) I am very sure his first year of college is going to entail a lot of inebriation. He barely nods hello at us when we pass, and I know we don’t register to him, me and B. and the boy. He has no manners. I remember being that wrapped up in myself. One night this winter B. and I were up late on the couch–ah yes, it was the night before the city snow day–and we saw out the window this same boy coming home alone in the lamplit snow. Instead of walking he was sliding, one foot after the other, like half a waltz, dancing his way up and down the sidewalk, delaying his exit from the snowy night.  The next morning, I made muffins, and was disappointed when the sun came out. I wanted the storm to keep on. And I was pregnant then, imagining being a mother and making pancakes for my kid on their future snow days.

B. and I decided to extend our trip, and we’re going to be driving far north of the city. All of this seemed like a great idea when we booked our nights, but now I’m picturing the boy’s face and wondering if really we just need to tuck in and not go anywhere and keep cuddled up and cozy right here where we are; where we’ve spent most of the last two months. Our borders are expanding again; taking the boy further and further afield. When I go to bed in a minute, I’m going to first stand next to him and put my hand on his chest to make sure he’s breathing. It’s the first transition into sleep that is the hardest for me, and the moment when the lamp first goes off, taking him just that little bit out of my sight.

It’s been longer than ten minutes. Didn’t get to my discussion of bras yet. Bras and how to keep the boy always safe. Some fool on the street is playing music way too loud and I want to block out all the stupid noises of a day that might disturb him. I give drivers the evil eye quite a lots these days; bikers too, and resist the urge to kick over the Tour de Brooklyn bikers racing around the park. And then sometimes the boy wakes up crying like he’s had a bad dream and there’s literally nothing I could have done to prevent it. So I hold him and we bounce and he sleeps some more until the next need or fear wakes him and I bounce some more and on and on we go. And on and on we will go.

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2 months and ten days.

Way back in week one or two I watched a documentary about whales. Grey whale mamas travel up the Pacific coast with their baby whales, the calves, once a year. They hug the shore so as to hide in the murkier waters, but when they get to Monterey Bay they cross open ocean because it’s faster. And there wait the only animals besides humans that could be a threat: Killer whales. The killer whales move in packs to separate the calf from the mother, and if they can, they attack and attack until they have killed and eaten the baby whale. The mother whale is too big for them.

Sometimes when the boy nurses he watches me with one eye, and it likes a little whale eye gazing at me.

I could not handle watching the baby whale hurt, but more than that watching the mama whale trying and unable to protect it. And it’s total bullshit that the camera people on nature shows don’t interfere. Natural processes and all that, but it’s not as if we haven’t been interfering for centuries. What? We can massacre thousands upon thousands of whales but can’t save this one?

And then today lying down for a nap I was thinking about the logistics of a potential train trip coming up and then I am picturing the train speeding up, too fast, and me knowing an accident was coming, and I am quizzing myself: What do you do to protect the boy? How will you save him? Ditto for a hypothetical car accident. In that one, I’m nursing the boy after the accident while waiting for an ambulance and bleeding from the head.

B. took the job by the way.

I might be feeling a little vulnerable.

Two months and three days.

Oh wow, the house alone for a few minutes. I wish I wasn’t this type of person but I keep on getting annoyed at B. for seeming like he wants to be alone, or for not being totally “present” with me, when actually I think it’s just me who wants to be alone. And the other day with my mother, I got annoyed as soon as she showed up to help with the babe. We hadn’t even had a conversation yet. And there I am holding my baby, two months into diapering and rocking and burping and serenading, into putting my immediate needs second when he needs me to, knowing that she did all this for me and more that I don’t even know about yet and really all I should be saying is “Thank you” and instead I’m annoyed.

I’m not sure I’m a person for constant company. And especially not constant company with constant opinions. Because we all have opinions about what’s best for the boy and we’re trying to be polite about it but we’re all a hundred percent sure we’re right. Thus my delay this morning. I went back to bed with the boy because he made it clear to me he wasn’t interested in skipping our last sleep interval of the night which has been a late (“late” as in after 7:30) cuddle together in bed. He’s very wise because in fact I didn’t really want to skip it either, but I was guessing at B.’s thoughts and thinking that he’d prefer us all to laze about on the couch together. I had started baking something and abandoned it to B. and happily went back to bed with the boy, but then spent the rest of the morning mind-reading and deciding that B. was annoyed that I had gone back to bed and left him with the baking. I do think that sometimes he handles the solitude issue by simply being alone while we’re all together. But I should know by now I’m not as good at intuiting his thoughts as I think I am. Sometimes I read his mind and get pissed at him for what I’m sure is there.

B. got offered a job two days ago. And it’s a good job. But it would have him leaving the cave sooner than we expected, and I’m surprised at how sad I am at the idea of him leaving every morning and coming back nine or ten hours later. He and the boy have their own rhythms and patterns completely independent of me and it’s hard to imagine that surviving a standard work week. We’re so used to fathers not being around as the mothers are around, and I am the source yes, but isn’t it possible that the fathers are as indispensable?

The packaging on every single baby item we were given shows a woman caring for the babe. All the internet articles and advertisements and pieces of advice are geared toward mothers and women. I felt for B. during the pregnancy. Where was his baby shower? The public invasion into the life (and body) of the pregnant woman could be too much for me, but there was nothing for B. He wasn’t advised and complimented and courted. There were no rituals to guide him into fatherhood, to mark the huge transition he was about to go through.

When I was a child and imagined myself as a mother it was as a single mother. It was what I knew. And in the midst of our ten thousandth shared decision I’ve had moments when I wouldn’t mind being the sole decider, but I just can’t believe that parenting was ever meant to be a solo affair. Two adults hardly seems enough. We’re trying to fill our house on the weekends; to bring in our friends and family as often as possible; to pass the babe around. It’s good for him and it’s really good for us.

B. told me that he read this study in which people were shown photos of crying babies. Regardless of the gender of the infant, when the viewer was told that the babe was a boy they saw anger, and when they were told it was a girl, they saw fear. Fear being an emotion we want to comfort and anger being one we want to battle. One relative says to us, “He’ll be an athlete.” I say, “Or maybe a dancer.” “No,” she says, “an athlete.”

How to protect the emotional life of this boy. I know we have to work, but can’t there be some swirling pattern of schedules so that we are both here?

My father was not around. I don’t understand yet what makes it possible for some men, so many men, to miss this, but B. has brought fatherhood into my life in a new, magnificent way. Last night, after I nursed and climbed back into bed, I watched B. do the re-swaddling and rocking. Their swaying silhouette was clearly outlined, the boy in profile with his tiny, rounded nose and B.’s face as he watched, and I could tell that he was exhausted and just waiting for the boy’s eyes to close and stay closed. But he kept standing and kept rocking him. He is often more patient than I am at this. My mother told me that only my father, when he visited, was willing to push me on the swings as long as I wanted to be pushed. I watched B. bend and lower the boy into his bassinet, and saw how he was shifting a blanket over him and it made me feel secure right in the center of my chest, in the bone there that connects the ribs, an actual and literal sensation.  I feel cared for by his love of the boy. It makes me feel safe in this time when I am made piercingly vulnerable by my need to protect and love this tiny new being.

I just can’t help thinking that this too, their time, is an essential thing that needs to be protected.

And that’s it. Time to dress and to go.

Two months and two days.

The massacre in Charleston has made it hard for me to write. As has the continuation of this campaign; the horror of the burning churches. I have been in the land of milk stains and breasts and this tiny baby boy and sleep and burps, but what do I say about the world that is happening…because though this began as a very private space I can’t help knowing that there are people out there reading. And that has begun to slow me down. It seems too small to write the everyday life I’ve kept on living, but that’s also the truth of it: that I have simply kept on living that life. And there, there’s that thing. That I could forget and remain tucked away from the news. That is a thing; a property of whiteness. To live essentially untouched and know that you are not the target. My sadness can be real but I am not kept up at night by fear for my new son’s survival in this country.

Race often silences me.

I realized the other day that though I know myself as multiracial, my son is not, won’t. That is a thing about the way race moves and pigments shift. Infant faces change of course and who knows what ethnic markings may emerge, but regardless, I do know he will know the unearned and very real privileges of whiteness. As, I suppose, I have.  I thought by the time I had a child I would have figured out my language of racial and ethnic belonging, but I haven’t. I wanted to, but I’m still unsure. I think mostly my whiteness embarrasses me; feels linked to old hurts, old mistakes, things I did, my estrangement from my family of color always feeling like my fault.

Even more embarrassing is that a small, but real part of myself hoped for my child to deliver me from whiteness…to exert the other family genes and give people pause when they saw us all together. This hasn’t happened.

But also, whiteness itself is kind of embarrassing. The way it’s both smugly and naively unaware of itself. The way it just takes and takes and never asks if it should. The way it does not see how it foolish it looks or how little it knows.

The news of the massacre shocked me and then my brain shied away from it. I retreated back into my cave but I’ve done this many times when I didn’t have an infant to care for.  I cried exactly once over it and could have cried longer but swallowed it up and then I went and bought a coffee and walked in the rainy park with the boy and B.

Everything is very comfortable these days. B. not working yet, and making me these glorious plates of food and we walk three blocks and are in a park, and our home is cool and comfortable and I forget to see how weird and gross the class and race dynamics of this neighborhood have become. B.’s whiteness is complicated by his parent’s immigrant views of the world and by having spent much of his childhood in non-white spaces. My whiteness is complicated by my brown father. But the boy? If we continue to live here? If we raise him here, where the only people of color are employees? Where the rich wear charity run t-shirts and listen to NPR and actually say things like, “My dear friend, who happens to be Black/Asian/Latina.”

I am raising a boy who will become a white man.

How to complicate it. I’m not sure. But at least I’m feeling it again; the ache of the murders. At least piercing the veneer of this place. That needs to happen. And now the boy howls, and I have to walk away. In two days the Fourth of July. How to complicate that? That too seems like a thing that needs to happen.

Two months today.

A collection of sentences today because I’ve started many entries that never get written; the days that begin so slow and gentle, like now, even the garbage truck out front seeming like a soft, summer sound, and then come to this sudden close, me wondering where all the hours went. It’s officially summer now because public schools are out. And now that it’s officially summer it means that I officially begin to worry that September will come too fast.

The boy, who very kindly slept so as to give B. and I a quiet breakfast, stirs. He stirs by raising both arms straight above his head in triumph, he shakes his head from side to side, one arms lowers into a fist under his chin and the other lowers more slowly in one long straight line. I bet he’s making me a faster, more accurate typer.

He is two months old today. Does it mean that at three months we’ll cross some border out of this magic land?

I decided yesterday that when my mother came over I would make my new mama friend an Israeli salad, a thing of sliced mango, and a batch of muffins. I also planned to fix the mobile that disintegrated a week (or more?) ago. Also, to join my neighborhood listserve so as to go hunting for a bouncy chair and a nursing chair. Also, fix the storage problem on my phone. And write my godmother. Also, send these photos to my other friend that she’s going to use to make a set of illustrations for this very project. And return my friend’s phone call. Also, find an air bnb for a few nights for me and B. in the end of July. And…there was something else but I forget.  Oh yes, make two doctor’s appointments. And I owe three baby gifts.

There was this night in his first week before my milk came in when I sat with him in the moonlight, in a creaky rocking chair, and I sat and began to tell him the story of himself and just sat there crying.

I think I keep writing that moment over and over.

Two months! B. just pointed out that the boy is officially bigger than our cat.

The problem with the days when I try to get specific tasks done is that every time I’m holding him I’m thinking of when i get to put him down. So by the time I get to the end of the day, the tasks somehow undone, I also feel disconnected from the boy, and then the whole thing becomes a haze. It’s also true that yesterday had many magical moments sprinkled throughout. I’m been getting a little emotional. Moody. A little rollercoaster-y. He’s in a new sleep pattern that’s leaving me a little…weird.

Also, I’ve been meaning to tell how I did officially have sex, but that was a few weeks ago, and is kind of old news by now.

And there’s this whole bit about Father’s Day.

So I’m going to stop now. Because I am trying to get to this new mama gathering which I think would be very good for me to get to. The way B. nodded when i said I was thinking about going made me think that perhaps it would be more good for me than I realize. Did I mention that I’m also really happy?

Oh, and I’ve also been meaning to write and think about resources and support for new mamas. And my relationship with my boobs.

I did have a moment of total wisdom and surrender this morning, though. That I would just do one moment at a time and see what comes. I’m deciding right now, and declaring, that today is in fact the first official day of summer.

Week 7 1/2

I’m having one of those days that I wondered if I would have and was so relieved I hadn’t had but now it’s here. And it’s all because of an air conditioner.

Today it’s just too much. Today I want my own rhythms. I want to be able to do the stupid shit that is meaningless but it’s my meaningless stupid shit. I want to eat when I want to eat. I want going to poop or piss to require no additional steps other than me walking into the bathroom and closing the door. I want to finish a plate of food without eating it over the boy’s sleeping or nursing back. You know what would really rock my world? To walk down the avenue to my favorite consignment shop and try on a whole pile of clothes and then buy an iced coffee and sit there with it reading a novel. I want to leave the house without my phone. I want to want to masturbate. I want to be able to make a life decision without hashing it out with B. I want to hang my own laundry to dry. I want to go to the grocery store. I want to wax my armpits.

It’s hot today. We’re waiting for the huge thunderstorms that are supposed to arrive with “damaging rains.” The air is heavy but I’m already doubting the storm’s arrival. If it could come sooner rather than later that would be extremely helpful because I am much much better at staying indoors when it’s raining outside. Even in this heat, I like being outside. But yes, it’s very hot and humid and the boy really does not sleep in this weather, which means he gets crazier and moodier as the day goes on. We’ve already learned this lesson. A few weeks ago, or maybe it was last week, the boy kept on psyching us out and falling asleep for 15 minutes only to wake with a grumpy howl. By 3, we were all a sweaty mess until I finally just slung up the crying boy and carried him with me out the door and up to the park, an exhausted, bouncing duo. B. came and met us and finally we made it to the air conditioned bliss of the Brooklyn Museum. And then the other day, it was the same again, and we managed to leave earlier, and again arrived in triumph to the museum. Turns out it’s an even better museum than I thought it was, but also not so big. Parents take note though: They have an indigenous art exhibit on the fifth floor that is literally the ideal setting to put a baby to sleep. It’s a bit warmer than the other rooms, has a hum of white noise, and quiet drum heart beat music plays. It’s like a womb lined with really cool stuff to look at. Point being, our neighbor offered us an air conditioner and we really had to accept. Today is the first day we hooked it up.

But I hate air conditioning. I hate how it makes the house hard to leave, and how I can’t hear the outside world through it’s hum. It’s become a point of pride that I live an air conditioner-free life. Less energy, not being shut up from the world, not having too many appliances, etc. But also I love to hate air conditioning. This morning, I thought this exact sentence: “Do The Right Thing could not have happened if it was air conditioned.” And maybe it’s petty and silly, but it’s still my thing. And today I compromised. For the boy’s rest, for our sanity, and we plugged it in.

It was only 10 AM, but the boy couldn’t sleep, even though he was glaze eyed in my arms and then I brought him into the newly cooled living room and within four minutes he was out. I laughed, imagining a day of emails and random task-doing and then lowered him into his rocker and went to tell B. We congratulated ourselves and swore (again) that we’d use the A.C. when we really needed it, that air conditioning wouldn’t become a way of life, and so on. And then. And then. The boy woke up. And that’s when something crashed in me. Because the deal we made (the boy and I) was that I would compromise on the air conditioning and in exchange he would sleep for a (minimum) of two hours. Did he not get that? Did he not understand what I was doing for him? I nursed him, the hum of the machine weaving a tight net of sound around me and then I passed him to B. and fled to the sweaty bathroom to hang laundry and begin to leave messages with other mamas, that began, “So, I’m having a bit of a hard moment…”

B., very wisely, sent me out for a walk. By now, I’ve talked to two mamas, which helped immensely and am typing in our very hot kitchen, only stepping back into that cool living room to nurse and then passing him to B. and leaving again. Is this where I have to say how much I adore the boy? Maybe I’m just going to skip that part. I might also skip the part where I say how grateful I am to B. It was as I said when I got home, and B. asked, “Was it a nice walk?”.

“Ummm, not so much nice, as essential.”

6 1/2 Weeks.

I was wrong. Sleep is everything.

Best not to think this sentence:  “All I need is one full night of sleep.” Because it can only be followed by this one: “You’re not going to get that for a long, long time.”

I thought I could outmaneuver all those sleep warnings. I thought I could break down the day/night industrial complex. I thought all it took was the right attitude.

The thing is that I really can’t blame the boy. His needs are too pure. I can’t steal sleep from his wants and rhythms. But from B.? It’s not in the middle of the night, but in the morning, that he can, at times, become my sleep nemesis. I think I do for him too, but I don’t want to assign him my own character defects. It is he that has the power to give me more sleep. He who can take the boy for a walk. He who can pace with him upstairs while I fall back asleep for that precious hour more. I would like to say that I think graciously of his needs in these moments but the laws of scarcity apply and sometimes, well sometimes if sleep were money I’d rob a small child of their candy fund just to get more of it. These are the moments when I glimpse the borders of my own basic kindnesses.

I’m immensely disappointed about all this. Not the tiredness itself, but to have fallen into the most obvious of new parent modes. Also, yesterday we ran into another set of parents whose babe is only two weeks older than ours and they get six and seven hour stretches and I walked away from that conversation saying to B., “We need to get serious about a bedtime ritual.”

Evening as it is now is something that comes on us suddenly. The day moves along at a meandering pace; morning and afternoon seeping into each other until suddenly, as if we’ve been dropped over a hidden waterfall, B. and I find ourselves sweaty on the couch at 8 o clock, 9 o clock, 10.  He is bare chested. I’m in my nursing bra with one flap open, a nipple airing out, and the boy, having finally fallen asleep, lies before us unbathed and still in his day outfit. You’d never know it though, looking at him. No signs of the long day show. Instead, he makes sleep look good, lying there, a gorgeous being straight from the cosmos.

We had talked earlier of the movie we would watch. The emails we would send. The random tasks that we’d accomplish with great satisfaction. Instead, we lean gently into each other so as to keep our sweaty skin from touching too much of the other’s. We kiss. Say, “Good job,” with a laugh. And then we assign the first shower, hurrying towards bed, the clock already running down towards the moment when the boy will stir sleepily, stretch, still looking adorable, until, very quickly if not intercepted, he’ll begin howling with all the unmitigated fury of his need to survive. Sometimes, if B. is the one to bring him to me, I think in my hazy sleep that I already have in my arms. I hear his cries, and feel the shape of him in my arms and then fumble around blearily to find him in the covers.

He is fed, and held upright to help with the gas, and then rocked back to sleep, and though I know how the next sleep cycle will end, he gets me every time–the look of him a mighty balm against the raw edge of the interrupted night.

6 weeks old.

I should be sleeping. I should always being sleeping, apparently, and I’m tired of this command/objective/goal hanging over me every time the boy drifts off into his gorgeous slumber. (Nothing quieter than a house in which a baby is sleeping.) It’s true that the failure to nap can leave me ragged and here I am writing about it again but I’m also just tired of the whole thing. It’s all anyone ever warned me about, and it’s the first question people ask, and aren’t there other things to talk about, be warned about, strive for?

I’ve had a low lying unease these last few days, and I think now it’s because the brand-newness is wearing off and I’m hearing the slight whir of routine. I don’t want the dazzle to go but it’s already going and I hate it. Yesterday I cared for the boy all day. I mothered. I fed and rocked and burped and walked and smiled, even, but it was more like work than like discovery and I know, I do know, this is fine and what’s going to happen some days but I’m still sad to be leaving those first early weeks. They were a shock yes, but they were also tremendously exciting. Every damn thing was a monumental achievement. Now the boy is crying more, and I do what I can, and I walk to the park, and I shift from shoulder to arm, but it’s not necessarily a thrill and sometimes (often) I’m not sure what to do and I have to remind myself of the simple fact that babies cry sometimes without us knowing why,

There’s a shift happening. We’re waiting for this growth spurt everyone talks about. B. thinks we’re on the edge of it. I don’t know. The boy eats and sleeps. And also, there’s my body.  The initial recovery is coming to a close. I’ve pretty much stopped bleeding which means that my uterus is back to it’s former size. It means I can swim again, think about running, exercise, sex.

Sex.

Also, sex.

Ok. Sex. But what do I do about my milk-filled breasts? I don’t want to wear a boring black nursing bra while doing it for the first time since, but what’s to stop this personal sprinkler system of mine from being switched on? And what if it’s not as good? What will I feel? What will he? And also, a hesitation I don’t know how to name…how to welcome anything in when the last major activity there was the boy’s head and sensations that left my brain scrambling for, and not finding, anything in the pain to grasp onto.

I’m just not always so good at transitions. I’m a little scared and a little sad. I want the technicolor. I want the way it was when B. running his hand through my hair was intense, ultimate bliss. Fulfillment in itself. Everything in every day was so much there was nothing more to want. I liked being the version of myself that didn’t ask for more from a day. I want to keep her.

39 days old.

Today, B. and I solemnly pinky swore to the following items:

1.) To seriously lower our standards in regards to anything house related.

It’s pretty spotless right now, and the fridge is always stocked, and our laundry being done and, here, in week 5 (week 6?) B. is crashing. He needs to do less.

2.) To nap during the day!

It’s getting ridiculous. We’ve been told an infinite number of times to sleep when the boy is sleeping and we keep on not doing it and then we get crabby and tired and slip into circular conversations that don’t even count as arguments. In these, I talk about his “tone” and he talks about me not not hearing him. This goes on too long until we kiss, shake and make up and realize that while there is a kernel of truth to each of our points, mostly we’re just being stupid and acting just like the boy does when he’s too tired and doesn’t know what he wants and thus complains about every damn thing including his favorite things. (Which at this point I think are milk, cuddling, and wiggle time.)

3.) To build flexibility into our plans.

This is huge, and every time I do it, so liberating. What this looks like:  Friend says, “Do you want to meet up on Sunday?”, and I say, “I’d love to, but is it ok if we check in that morning and then decide?”.  And then Friend says, “Yes, totally,” and  I say, “Thank you!,” and then when Sunday comes around and I got no sleep the night before and the poor boy is stuffed up and breathing in too much air while he nurses (sounding exactly like a piglet at my breast) and then spitting up and he’s exhausted and crabby too and we just can not get out of the house and all I want to do is watch the rest of the Planet Earth “Great Plains” episode while he blows snot and drips milk all over me I can cancel on Friend without feeling horribly guilty.

4.) Be more honest with guests.

Aka, if Friend is over and the boy suddenly falls asleep and he’s really out, then we say to Friend, “Please enjoy watching our marvelous boy sleep while we go downstairs and do the same.” Ideally, then Friend and the boy bond. I can’t say. I’ve only tried this one with grandparents and god-grandparents and since they love every single second with the boy they’re not really a reliable test case.

Of course I am now breaking rule #2 because the boy is sleeping and I’m here awake and I’m so hyper and excited to be able to write and then putz that I have no interest in lying down. Also, I ate a brownie and drank an iced coffee not that long ago and am feeling like a super hero. Also, I really want to watch Insurgent with B. on the couch. And not be nursing while we eat the pizza he’s making. And send a few text messages. And make shortcake cause we have raw cream from a Jersey farm and I bought strawberries and I want to eat strawberry shortcake. For this last one though…I have a hunch that those berries will end up whole in a bowl, some cream poured over the top, a spoonful of sugar, and I’ll call it a delicious day while trying to simultaneously nurse and cuddle with B. and watch the movie that I seriously doubt we will get to the end of and actually all of that is sounding pretty dreamy. In my wildly ambitious grocery buying today I even bought a few lemons to zest. For the shortcake.

Yeah.

If I open that bag of flour, I’ll write about it and title that post “Flour Day.”