(mostly typed with one hand)
(over the space of about three weeks)
I only just called Children's to let them know. Part of this was because I was tired and busy, part because I didn't want to jinx anything by calling with good news -- and then have to call back the next day with a problem. I waited over a week, and through the second pediatric appointment.
Last week, at some point in a 45-90 minute stretch of heavy sleep, I had a dream that Bella was obnoxiously and very purposefully keeping me up at night. He's here, and he's still not in my dreams.
File under signs that my IRL personality is not so different from blog voice -- in case you were wondering:
(Midwife waves off anesthisiologist who apparently poked his head in the room too late to do anything, and says to no-one in particular but looking in the direction of my husband, "It's too late.")
Mr. ABF: YOU tell her.
(At some point following my involuntarily unmedicated labor and delivery)
Mr. ABF: I'm so proud of you . . . you didn't swear out a single person! You didn't even drop an F-bomb! I can't believe you made it through that without profanity. There is no way I could've done that without dropping an F-bomb.
Why yes, he does nap fairly consistently every day at 10:00 a.m. Whaddaya know.
My neighbors were overwhelmingly amazing after Maddy died, I think especially since we had only lived here six months. And so it is extremely satisfying to see just how happy they are for us now. The woman who brought us chicken dinners and dedicated a church service to Maddy, last week brought us dinner and begged me to now let her throw us a party. Another neighbor who wasn't here during the Maddy debacle but knows the whole mess, took a pajama-clad Bella at 6:00 a.m. last Monday brought me chocolate and visited me in the hospital (and then followed up with a dinner as well). The UPS man set down packages yesterday to hug Mr. ABF . . . twice. My fridge is full, there are homemade muffins by the coffee pot, but coming from people who not only provided for us once before but put up with my emotional distance then and for the last nine months . . . well, it's just all-consuming how lovely this place is. It takes a village, and I live in one of the best.
I wondered if I would be a hypochondriac and to some degree I suppose I am; we're far more nervous about his swaddle encroaching on his mouth, and we both randomly wake and check him -- I caught Mr. ABF holding an iPhone for light over him the other night, just checking. And yet . . . perhaps after a healthy baby and a NICU stint gone to hell, we've seen it all. I caught myself the other day quickly strolling through the kitchen to let the dog in the back door with a six day old infant on my breast. Last night he suffered his first two hour crying jag and we both reminisced about Bella's first where we were sent into a full-blown panic. Last night we simply turned up the sound on the movie and took turns walking around so the other wouldn't get too tired. It passed, I'm sure it was gas.
And yet. I was ordering summertime PJ's for Bella on an online sale, and promptly added a hoodie for the little guy a size or two up so it will be good for Fall. And I was flooded with that forboding, what if . . . should I really do this? Plan ahead like this? Jeebus, here I am introducing him to all these people, what if something happens . . . My finger hovered above the "Put In Cart!" button, as if it was Death himself standing there with his scythe proclaiming judgment right next to the "You Might Also Like" pictures of little swimsuits and sunhats.
No, not over it yet. It will be a while.
I think I got breast milk on my iPhone.
Mr. ABF wondered the other day if he, this little screaming creature (we got us a fussy one), changed how I thought about Maddy. That is to say, are the two children under our roof now the 3:4 roulette winners? Or was Maddy just doomed by something else shitty from the get-go? This guy's pregnancy tracked almost in every way with Bella's, which is to say: Normal. Maddy's was a trauma from the get go, with me bleeding out thinking I had miscarried about one week in. It went south from there. This healthy boy has been added to the file at Children's, no doubt a cute little male symbol extending downward from the symbols that represent us, right next to the female symbol with the line through it. He has been recorded on her tree, Children's will continue to look into it if opportunities present themselves, and we? Will likely never know.
Sitting outside on a warm spring afternoon, Mr. ABF had just finished mowing the grass -- it smelled like early summer, and our house looked divine surrounded by late-blooming iris and dark purple veronica and the new shoots of lavender and the seedlings that finally got placed in the planter beds last week. The neighbor's drive was filled with contractors (new kitchen), cars puttered down the street, the dog went ape-shit over a squirrel.
It was perfect.
But it wasn't.
It was as if I had entered a time-warp -- this was the scene I dreamed of three years ago, new to my neighborhood but already loving the surroundings, sitting outside with a baby on my chest. It finally happened! The time was here!
But oh, what a cost.
I wonder if one could accordion those three years, not just the horror and grief and ashes in a box and depression and heartbreak, but the loss of hope and expectations, the year I zombie-walked through Bella's life, the destruction of relationships red-flagged by the people who have not contacted us, nor us them. Is it possible to fold this up, and imagine a smooth time line leading me here? Unlikely. I'll have to take what I can get.
I owe you pictures, and I'm frequently too wasted to get them and then transfer them from camera to computer. We've been doing a lot of phone pictures, which I suppose is the degradation that befalls the subsequent child along with hand-me-downs and a casual attitude toward just about everything baby. Also? This child is a fuss-pot: His channels are: Sleep, eat, and cry. (Thank goodness for Bella, because most mornings I look at her eating breakfast at the counter after having dressed herself and think, well it won't always be like this. Except for yesterday morning when she pitched a fit because I made her use the toilet before heading off to T-ball. "I always have to do EVERYTHING!" she scream-cried. Phases people, phases.) Ergo, I haven't been terrific about pictures, and especially pictures when his eyes are open and he's not asking to be picked up and held by someone who directly contributed to his DNA. But here's a nice eyes closed one (he is alive, trust me on this) that we've been using to figure out who he looks like, exactly.
We've decided he looks like Harold, you know, of the Purple Crayon.
I also still owe you a name. Which isn't so much me being squeamish over internet privacy, but me being squeamish about certain relatives wondering if we've hidden a cache of pictures somewhere online without telling them and entering my children's names into google and winding up here in the land of cynicism and bitch-slapping. I am still pondering. I will tell you that it is Italian, and lovely.