Lately our kid is an explosion of sweet sweet sweet. He’s an explosion of needy, too, but I’ll save that for another post. For now, the sweet. J’s morning sickness has started with a vengeance (really, it was kicked off with the stomach flu that both she and B got right after B and I got a summer cold; yeah, we’re real treats). Anyway, at the end of a loooooong day of J vomiting and me crawling around trying to occupy the boy with no help and only one working foot, J was crying and saying, “I’m just so thirsty,” and Bram left the room, went to my nightstand, picked up a mug of water, and so so carefully, and so so slowly, carried that water to his pomo, only spilling the tiniest little bit along the way. It almost burst both of our hearts.
Also, he’s getting easy with the smooches and the hugs. And he squeezes when he hugs now! AND, he’s finally attached to two inanimate items: his Waldorf doll, Rudy, and Harvey, the teddy bear we made together when Love Child died. He wants BOTH Rudy AND Harvey at bedtime. And bedtime is the BEST. He curls into our bed between us and we read five or so books together as a family of three, B nestled under one of our arms. Then he rolls happily from our bed into his bed, where he curls up with Rudy under one arm and Harvey under the other. I put one thin blanket on him and curl up next to him. J lays on the edge of our bed and joins us for one song (usually, per B’s request, “Rai-oad” (“I’ve been Working on the Railroad”). Then J smooches him goodnight and turns off the lamp, and B and I play our invisible energy game (moving energy from our hands, ears, mouths, and bellies in a way that only makes sense to him). Then we sing anywhere from one to seven or eight more songs and he falls asleep smiling. Smiling. Never crying. Never sad. And I kiss him. And cover him up with another blanket. And crutch away as quietly as I can. In that space, it doesn’t matter that my foot is broken. That I can’t put weight on it for six more weeks. That I can’t carry him. In that space, my mamahood is whole and uncompromised. It’s the loveliest.
But not everything is lovely. Most of the day right now is just hard. And on top of the normal two-hurt-or-sick-mommies logistical nightmare, it’s been a tough time for friendship. A couple of weeks ago, I asked a very, very close friend if I could come over with Bram for two hours on a Saturday so that J could go to a prenatal appointment with a doula client (since I can’t safely be alone with him for more than an hour or so, just in case he needs something I can’t give him without walking), and it came out that she has found me emotionally exhausting for quite some time. Those were her words, and they’ve stayed with me. I wish she’d picked a different way to ask for a change in our relationship, but what’s true is true. She is who I called when Saul came over a month early and they wouldn’t let me see him. And when we got the call that his birth mom was taking him back after we’d parented him for a month. And from the hospital where my dad was dying. And from home as we waited to miscarry. And from the car when we’d just left Hades’ body and I was still miscarrying and we needed to pull it together for our boy. After J, she was my call. Which is a lot of trauma. And sometimes, I said the wrong things. In visits in the days following my dad’s death. Grief held me and I guess I thoughtlessly hurt her and never knew it. So now she can’t be here for us. And we aren’t there for her. And there’s a huge absence. And now, too, we don’t feel great about asking for things from anyone which, you know, is hard because I can’t walk and J is throwing up and this is a tough, lonesome time. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more like a burden. Less like an asset to the people I love. It is what it is. These haven’t been easy years. We’ve leaned. We’ve tried to reciprocate in our own ways: building community, offering a hand, being listeners, loving. But now there’s this sense that none of that is visible. That all anyone sees is what messes we’ve been, and how needy. There’s a lot of insecurity. A lot of wishing we could call someone, but being scared to do so for fear that we’re asking too much.*
But thank the gods we’re close to my family because last Saturday, when J had been vomiting for two days and was scared and overwhelmed and couldn’t imagine how we’d get through these next (then) seven weeks, she helped me pack the boy into the car and I drove south and pretty much just showed up on my aunt’s doorstep. And you know what? She and another aunt and both of their daughters just took us in and loved us up. And she runs a daycare, so Bram woke up, and my cousin helped him out of the car seat, and wonderful of wonderful things there was a whole playground just for him, and a side yard full of toddler bikes and cars, every single one of which he tried! And one cousin introduced him to some fish, and another wore him on her back and moved bags and scooters and food into and out of the car without even complaining. And my aunts took care of us. And we felt loved. So there’s that. There’s family. Sweet, good family. I’ve been scared to go down there much since my dad died because the dad-shaped hole gets consuming when I’m too close, but this time, there was just gratitude because I love them, and because they love my boy, and because they’re part of his tribe, and we’re lucky for that.
And then there’s the Dragon! Which is what we’re calling this new baby because, you know, we’d like her to be fierce so she’ll stick around. (Though J says she can be a little less fierce now, thank you very much.) And of course we mean more like Eliot from Pete’s Dragon than anything scary. Anyway, this new baby probably (please please) has a heartbeat now! A heartbeat! And if you say to Bram, “where’s the Dragon?,” he smiles and runs to his pomo and pats somewhere in the vicinity of her belly. Which is sweet sweet sweet. Our little boy is growing up. And will (please please) be a big brother in April. The thought of which just levels me in all of the ways. Anyway, everyone thinks the Dragon is a girl. Which of course doesn’t mean anything. And J thinks the Dragon is two Dragons, which is hugely unlikely and no doubt born of fear. Because if it were TWO DRAGONS, I’d do a crutches dance of pure happy before noticing that my wife was cowering in the corner in terror. :) All in good time. And maybe fast time? Like, maybe the next six weeks can pass quickly and we’ll find ourselves still with Dragon, and I’ll be walking, and J won’t be sick, and it will be beloved autumn, and there will be wood smoke in the air. I’m not one to wish away time, but if these next six weeks could keep from crawling. If we could have a little more normalcy. I’m ready for the ease and lightness I thought summer would bring.
* I think that some of this is about economy. I mean, if we were well off, we could hire a nanny for the next six weeks. J could work. I could keep my foot up like I’m supposed to. We could be on with Bram, but with just a little help. And all without being a burden on our friends. But we’re muddling through. And we’re lucky too. My mom told me this haunting story about a single mama friend of hers who was a waitress, and when she broke her leg and couldn’t work, her baby went into the foster care system until she was healed and could get him back. So, economy. We’re not in a sweet place, but jesus we’re not there. The horror.
** There’s other news. Worry about J’s mom. And loss. But I’ll let her write what’s right for her there. I’ll only say we’re sending love.