My boy is six months old and twenty-eight inches long and nineteen pounds and his pediatrician said, while motioning to my five-foot-nothing frame: “No one will ever believe this boy is yours.”
I looked down at him, dimpled thighs and rubberband wrists and four or five chins, and did a double take. How have we gotten here, so far from that scrawny little parcel with two slow-blinking eyes and a tentative bird-like mouth that he pressed to my cheek just minutes after being born in what felt like a hundred tiny, perfect kisses? I remember staring up at the ceiling of the operating room with tears streaming down my face, right into his little chick mouth, feeling increasingly uncomfortable from the awkward angle of my arm, which was hungrily clutching his seven-pound body to my face during the second half of the surgery, but I remained recalcitrantly unwilling to so much as shift a finger. I needed him there, his little form ensconced in my embrace. Don’t move an inch, I remember thinking. Just stay like this. Breathe in and out. He is here / he is mine / he is here / he is mine. Oh!!!
For the past many months, when he was ready for a nap, I would zip him into his sleepsack and rock him for a few minutes in his narrow nursery before depositing him into his crib, where he would drowsily flail around while I shook his legs back and forth, until the motion settled him and his eyes closed and I would tiptoe out of the room, often hurtling right into the next chore or task on my mind. I was always grateful for that second step in our put-down routine because my arms were routinely aching under the burden of his weight by the time the rocking portion was done.
But on or around Thanksgiving, at every nap, he would arch his back and fuss until I’d put him in his crib, on his stomach — suddenly and without warning his preferred sleeping position.
Oh, motherhood is an exquisite kind of pain.
Would you believe that I cried on Thanksgiving night when I placed him in his crib, on his tummy, cowing to his determination on this front, reluctantly adopting this unwelcome new routine? That I stared down at his form in wonderment and anguish, grieving the hundreds of mornings, noons, and nights I had passed rocking him in my arms, shuffling around that tiny nursery in what — in retrospect — appears to have been a continuous mother-son embrace punctuated only briefly by two-hour periods of alertness and separation?
I wiped the tears off my cheeks and attempted to channel my dad: “Keep moving forward. Don’t look back.” My boy is strong and healthy and in many ways having him on the other side of six months should be a cue for tears of relief. We are through the sleeplessness, the precariousness, the newborn anxieties. I have several friends with just-born infants and when I check in with them via text, I am chastened by their exhaustion-riddled musings and concerns and frustrations because their experiences are familiar to me but the sharpness of their contours has eroded. And I have to remind myself that being out of that haze is a blessing, too, especially because I promised myself I would never forget what it felt like.
But — how can I not feel robbed?
My boy, grown too long and too large to enjoy being cradled in my too-small arms.
Time is a burglar–a practiced one. It will steal the tiniest of tendernesses right out from underneath you. It works surreptitiously, under the cover of distraction, so that one random Thursday you might zip up the sleepsack and go to nestle your baby into the crook of your arm only to be caught by surprise, the comfort of your routine filched at some indiscriminate point between 2 and 4 p.m. that afternoon.
Time, my friends, is a thief.
+Some of the fresh heartache that went into writing this post was elicited by the recent packing and stowing of many of Hill’s baby clothes. I am weepy at the sight of this bunny suit, which he barely wore at all, but which I purchased for him while massively pregnant and massively uncomfortable. Oh!
+Fellow Mid-Atlantic lovers: this is a must for your tree this year.
+This velvet puffer is so fun! Would love to wear this home for the holidays!
+A pretty dress option that could work for an expecting mom at her baby shower!
+Hunting Season bags — ON SALE!?!
+Love this puffer for a little one.
+This $123 dress reminds me a lot of Saloni’s Camille sequin dress.
+This striped blouse is so me.