Friday, 28 August 2015

I Knew You

What a few crazy weeks months it has been. A flare-up of already-under-medicated postpartum depression that has left me little more than comatose most days, the death of my grandfather, serious relationship problems with a family member, a teething baby, visiting in-laws, a diaper rash turned yeast infection... when it rains, it pours. I simply haven’t had the energy or inclination to write. But I’m trying to force myself back into some semblance of normality in hopes of tricking myself into a better frame of mind, so here I am. I was going to wrap up the story of how my husband and I met, but then the latest Planned Parenthood debacle happened, and I felt pulled in a different direction.

Before Baby J was born, I hadn’t had much experience with babies. I was the younger of two children. Most of my cousins were older than me; if younger, it wasn’t by much. My friends didn’t have baby siblings. I’d never even held a baby, and my interactions with them didn’t stretch much beyond making faces at the children of overwhelmed parents when they (the children, not the parents!) were fussy during Mass. So I read. And I prayed. And mostly I just wondered what in the world I would do when this little creature was on the outside of my belly and I knew nothing.

And then one cold day in January, after 28 hours of labour and another 30 minutes of pushing, the little creature whom I’d carried for 41 weeks and 5 days (but who’s counting?) was laid upon my chest. We stared at each other. Stared some more. Eyes locked. And my first thought was... you look like an alien (I think it was the giant eyes).

It didn’t take long for me to realise I knew more than I’d thought—not about changing diapers, which was easy enough to learn, but about this new little person (who wasn’t so new to me after all).

As he slowly s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d his way out of the swaddle time and time again, I recalled how he used to try to s-t-r-e-t-c-h his way into more space in my womb. When he cried uncontrollably and wouldn’t sleep one night soon after we were home from the hospital, I finally realised that his clothes were too short for him, and he just couldn’t tolerate it. From day one until today, he has almost always slept fully stretched out, arms above his head. And it came as no surprise, because I knew him before he was born.

I never had to (was never able to?) do kick counts, because whenever I would sit still a moment, he would enter into a flurry of uncountable movements. When I was in motion, however, he was generally still. He loved being worn (despite his general distaste for confinement) from the moment he was born—but he typically kicks up a fuss if I stop moving. And now that he’s getting a bit older, he adores being in his Jumperoo. He has loved motion since he was a bitty bean.

Aside from his propensity to bounce on my bladder at approximately all times, he was a pretty laid-back baby while still in utero. He dealt with a prolonged labour like a champ. I could drink caffeine without him losing his mind! He didn’t give me any major health scares. And he remains an easygoing infant, or at least as easygoing as an infant can be. He doesn’t cry all that often, and when he does, there’s almost always a discernible reason. He’s a great sleeper. He grins readily and enthusiastically. He goes with the flow. He always has!

The same baby who gave me horrible back labour thanks to his sunny-side-up presentation prefers being on his back to being on his belly. Tummy time has never been popular in this house!

And then there’s his heart. I heard it beating when he was still in my womb—that reassuring thump-thump-thump that told me there was a baby in there even before my belly had its discernible bump. That remarkably consistent thump-thump-thump that said “mama, I’m doing just fine!” I rest my hand against his chest, and that same little heart is still beating away. A miracle.

My baby had a personality long before he was born. He had a personality because he had personhood. He was a person. Is a person. Has a soul that will endure in perpetuity. And I am so blessed to know him.

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