Moira is a month old. Five weeks, actually. It’s amazing how much each week of age matters at this point.
I’ve been hesitant to sit down and try to write anything meaningful, because life has not been marked by long stretches of uninterrupted thinking as of late.
It’s not actually entirely Moira’s doing. I often feel like she senses when we are about to have guests and decides to time her epic naps to avoid interaction. She’s an introvert. Or she obligingly naps through errands and restaurant meals. So I have lots of uninterrupted visits and meals…but that the time for reflecting and thinking is allotted to her 20 minute catnaps or 15 minute stretches of peaceful looking around. The rest of the time we are breastfeeding, changing diapers, and walking off my baby weight.
And I’ll be perfectly honest. Sometimes I just use those catnaps and peaceful time to stare at her.
But, sometimes in the shower, or when we are driving (Moira is a champion car rider), I’ve given some thought to this first month. It’s in snippets, but in this case the form is the content.
So…in the first month of being a family of three, here were the things that surprised me.
Things that were harder than I thought they would be…
1) Keeping a pacifier in one’s mouth. Why is this so hard? She loves her green Soothie (and ONLY her green Soothie), but she cannot seem to keep it in her mouth. Especially when she needs it most, like when she’s tired. More than once I have fallen asleep holding it in her mouth, with my arm awkwardly wedged through the bars of her bassinet. Only to wake up with my hand smashing her face.
2) Breastfeeding. While pregnant, women are subjected to a pretty one-sided barrage of breastfeeding propaganda. I didn’t understand why it needed such an aggressive lobby. It’s free, it burns calories, it’s good for the baby, it’s always available. In the words of BR in Thank You For Smoking, “[Cigarettes are] cool, available, and *addictive*. The job is almost done for us.”
And then I started breastfeeding. Holy sh**, folks. It’s not easy. I pretty much hate it. We’re at week five, still pretty sore, and only just now getting into some sort of groove. There have been a LOT of tears (Moira’s and mine), and a lot of involuntary screaming swear words (mine). I’m committed, but probably only because of that aggressive breastfeeding lobby. Thank goodness for them.
And our lactation consultant, Tina. Thank God for her.
3) Staying cool while she cries. I was a nanny. I know that babies cry. I know that sometimes they cry for no reason. They don’t have any other means of communication.
But for some reason, when Moira cries, which is not often, I lose my nerve completely. I can’t get to her fast enough. If I can’t ameliorate the pain – like in early breastfeeding days, on one long car trip, or when she was having a sweat test performed to rule out cystic fibrosis – I start crying. Leaving Lewis as the last man standing, valiantly trying to calm his women.
Things that are easier than I thought they would be…
1) Getting out and about. Moira is a fantastic buddy on outings. She’s good-natured, patient, and lulled to sleep by the car. She goes everywhere. Her favorite places: The Luxury, Local Coffee, the grocery store, and the Museum Reach of the San Antonio River.
2) Sleeping. I almost feel guilty how well-rested, clean, and happy we all are. Except that I don’t.
3) Being “on” 24/7. I thought I would chafe at being needed. I’ve never liked having people utterly dependent on me. When I was single, I wouldn’t even get a dog because I thought they were a form of bondage.
My biggest fear was that Moira’s neediness would grate on my soul, and I would live in a vicious cycle of trying to get her to play independently from birth.
Instead, I find that I am moved by her needs. Her little searching face. Her excited grunts and contented coos. The smiles that are starting to bloom more and more frequently when she sees her need-meeters. My heart melts, dripping compassion all over the house. Sometimes I cry because I think about how helpless she is, and how much I want to make her life perfect while I can. Before bratty classmates, stupid boys, and germs start ruining things.
I never understood how God could be compassionate toward his needy people. Really. I thought that surely it got old hearing our prayers, healing our wounds, and pursuing a people so utterly helpless to save themselves.
But I am starting to understand. I don’t want Moira to need me her whole life, because I want her to grow into a self-sufficient woman. But while she is young, she’s giving me a glimpse into the heart of God. To me, it looks like Lewis singing to Moira every night. She loves it. She looks up at him adoringly and rests calmly on his chest, because she is so secure. All her needs are met, and our parent-hearts are delighted.
For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. Zephaniah 3.17