Today Archer is Nine months old. The following is a collection of entries post birth, continued from yesterday's Nine Months In.
One Week Old
Today he is a week old and right now he is sleeping. His hands are neatly folded under his slightly jaundiced chin and his breath sounds like a tide. In and out and once in a while a sneeze. I say, "Bless you" from the other room and check in on him every few minutes. Just now he had milk on his face. Sometimes when he sneezes it comes out his nose. The same thing happens to me when i sneeze but it's because I had my adenoids removed when I was seven and there is no space to block fluids when they go down the wrong pipe, but Archer is just a newborn. Maybe he doesn't have adenoids yet. I don't know.
My nipples are sore and stinging but it's worth it to be able to feed him with my body. When I had the surgery the Doctor told me I wouldn't be able to breastfeed and I didn't care because I was 18 and because I had to wear three sports bras to the gym. "Just hack them, doc. whatever it takes." I am glad the Doctor was wrong. I'm glad I can feed my baby myself, even if my nipples feel like they are going to fall off.
Growing up, my mother always said to me "Just you wait! You will understand one day!" It was the epilogue for every argument over curfew, her explanation for hysteria after I pierced my face, cursed at the dinner table, got caught smoking pot. "You will have a baby one day and you will understand." When Archer was born, and my mother entered the birthing room and saw me with my baby for the first time, she raised her eyebrows and said, "See. Do you understand now?"
Archer is so small that it's difficult to fathom one day he will be a man, a teenager, a little boy who plays with Tonka trucks and crawls through the grass in the park. He is so tiny and vulnerable and helpless, its hard to believe that every day he sheds more skin and that one day he will outgrow his shell, a hermit crab too big for a bassinet, a crib, a twin bed, our house.
And even at 5am when he is wailing to be held, fed, changed, spitting milk on my clothes I am so overwhelmed with love that it doesn't matter and sometimes when he is sleeping I watch him dream. He moves his eyebrows and reaches his hands in the sky sometimes and every day there is something new. A new expression or sound.
Today Archer is a week old and in many ways I am too. Everything looks different now, a lighter shade. I am just a baby myself in many ways, and now I have one. A baby! In my arms! I pinch myself and wipe my eyes and he's still there, between my legs with his head on my knees, spitting milk out his nose and waving his hands. A new life has changed mine. I know what it means to really give birth now, not just to an idea but to a perfect little being, with big gray eyes and miniature hands. I have looked into the eyes of the most beautiful face I have ever seen; in awe that something so magnificent could love me back. Crazy in love and scared out of my mind because the world is so fucked up and jaded and my baby is so new and perfect and I want to protect him from the monsters. Just like my mother wanted to do for me and her mother for her and every mother through time.
When I was little I had a kaleidoscope. It was simple on the outside, cardboard and plain, but looking through it was an adventure. I loved bringing it outside and watching the shapes fall in squares and colors twist in triangles. I would gaze at myself in the mirror with a dozen eyes and ears and a nose with a hundred nostrils. The Kaleidoscope was wonderful because everything I saw was new - a discovery! Colorful and sometimes hilarious, surreal, and ever changing. I was never bored looking through the puzzle-like eye.
I thought of the kaleidoscope the other day while Archer was in my arms and we were walking around my Nana's garden. Archer had his eyes open; looking at the flowers with such awe and wonder as if it was the first time he had ever seen them. I was tickled. It took a second to remind myself that it was, and I felt overwhelmed by the flowers too. The colors and shapes and textures of such simple objects I had passed/seen every day. Suddenly everything we passed seemed new, wonderful, nature's collection of intricate, improved items. It was like looking through the kaleidoscope again as an adult: watching Archer chase the leaves with his eyes, all those rich greens, the curling of the grass, the fur of the dog, the sound of the piano, the glow of the television set, the neon lights of the shopping mall.
Being the first of my friends to have a child, I have been asked several times what it feels like to be a mother. "How are you different?"...Motherhood is like looking through a kaleidoscope. Every day a new shape forms, a new pattern emerges, shape-shifting and rich with beauty. A new surprise. I see the world through Archer's eyes, the joy and simple yearning for a new discovery. I am in awe of the world and everything alive. I see in four dimensions. Every day is a voyage. There is no such thing as mediocrity, boredom, hate. Not anymore. Not in this new world that I see first through Archer's eyes, and then my own. Just like my old kaleidoscope.
Five Months Old
Packing up the last few boxes, here. Archer is asleep in our bed, on the soft pillow under his blankie.
We let him sleep with us sometimes, Sandwich de Archer Sage. It's fun. Last night he slept between us too and I woke up at some point in the wee morning hours, nose to nose with him. He must have been watching me because when I opened my eyes, he smiled. I had no idea being a momz would be so intense. I was warned about the early morning feedings but never prepared for the early morning smiles.
Some of my favorite times have been waking up with you in the middle of the night and bringing you into bed with us. You snuggle close and fall asleep with your hand on my face. We took you to the Monterey Aquarium at three-months old and you watched the jellyfish for half an hour, waving at the creatures with curious hands. And when I leave you with your Dad, I bring a book of photos with me so I can look at them at stop lights and pine for you. Sometimes I show strangers at parties because I am that mom and one day I'm sure you will roll your eyes at me because I'm so uncool.
And every now and then I sneak into your room and watch you sleep and sometimes you are smiling, dreaming again. And sometimes when you see me get upset you start to cry, because that is what happens when two beings are attached to each other, and it always makes me stop and make a silly face, so that you will laugh, because your happiness matters more than mine does and that is the way it is now.
I love you more every day, my bugsy, my little fish. Today you are six months, little daydreamer, miracle, gentle love. Little nuzzle-dancer, feet-stomping pilgrim, laughing-goose, hoot-owl, head-butting sleepy bear, petit prince. Every day you overwhelm me with joy and wonder. I can't believe you are even real sometimes.
Seven Months Old
Every day when we together, I'm so proud to call you mine.
Even at the very start when I hadn't slept in nine (days.)
Now you're sitting pretty, next to me while I be rhyme'n
More than just a son, you are my muse and partner in cri'ime
Seven months ago today, I knew you were the one,
That I would die for, Bugsy. (True) I'd kill for you, son.
I love you, little man, more than any thug before
You give my life a meaning that is wicked-fresh hardcore.
...I came home to my little boy, wide-awake and kicking his little legs, big-eyed and excited to see me and it felt amazing. From one world to another and I was happy to be home.
Finishing a book is a lot like birthing a child, except a child comes out of the body and creates his own story and a finished manuscript will never live up to the high standards of the author. (Unless you are James Joyce.)
I am starting to believe that the life we lead is our greatest masterpiece.
No matter what happens with the book, whether it sells or fails. Whether the next MS sells or fails. Whether anything I ever write again sells or fails, I have in my short life created something perfect. Something so extraordinarily pristine that inspiration strikes daily. The kind of inspiration that happens during normal business hours, influenced by the miracle of a life, a soft-skinned, smiley-faced, tangible life. No more cartons of cigarettes in the freezer. No more all-night coffee/red wine binges. And that's okay. Not ALL writers have to struggle or suffer or starve. Not all writers have to live up the romantic stereotypes of chain-smoking at their desk in the rain. No more trying to categorize myself. I can be everything, a writer, a mother, a wife. It is possible to do it all, to have it all. It's even okay to want more.
Life is long...
Today: Nine Months
Today you are nine months old. You have lived outside of me for as long as I carried you in my body, bouncing and kicking and becoming human. You are my baby and sidekick, and dearest darling. Every day with you is an adventure, even when you wriggle from my arms, resisting my kisses with squints and squirms and you are spitting up all over me and yourself as soon as I change your clothes.
You personify love and joy and every wonderful emotion that one can experience.You are a dream come true. You give me superhuman power with a mere smile, more joy than I can even explain just by giggling. You are my wide-eyed world. You are the perfect child, acne-faced and four months behind with your crawling, stubborn and shy and teething and pulling my hair at 6am, when I am trying to go back to sleep.
You came into my life like a miracle, swept me off my feet like a gentleman. You have given me life. Truly. Growing inside me and growing outside and growing into your very own person. I love you more every day, if that is even possible.