Sunday, January 16, 2011

the month that changed our lives: William at one month

I hardly know how to write of the change that has come to us in the form of William. From the moment when my water suddenly broke (as the Eiffel Tower sparkled in celebration) to the daily joy and frustrations of living with a small baby, Greg and I hardly know what has hit us.
We were unprepared for the reality of life with a newborn. When I asked my friends with children why didn’t you tell me?, all they said was how could we tell you? How could we explain how truly exhausting, truly routine killing, truly exhilarating it is? So Greg and I were unprepared for just how tired we would get; just how much we would miss date nights and time together; just how messy the apartment could get in just so short a time, nor how challenging it would be to fit in a shower. Neither though, were we prepared for the love: the great, endless sea of love for our son.
His first week of life was spent in the comfortable and comforting environment of the American Hospital where William was born at 4 am on the 16th of December, exactly 2 weeks before his due date. The staff looked after all the cooking and cleaning (and the food was great) and the nurses would take the baby overnight to let us sleep, so this of course made things much easier. However, I was ill after the labor with a reaction to the epidural so my breastfeeding relationship with my baby did not get off to a great start. Already tiny at birth (only 6.13) William continued to lose weight and the pediatric nurses pushed feeding and pumping night and day. At one point Greg was feeding him with a syringe to get more food into him, and Will looked like a satiated baby bird. Needless to say this was a stressful start, and I was never so scared as I was when we headed home. I thought they’ve given us a BABY???? Are they INSANE????? I only hoped he wouldn’t starve to death, and we could make some sort of guess at his needs.
We decided to chuck the rigid feeding schedule decreed to us by hospital and feed him ‘on demand’, breast milk only. We rented a scale to monitor his growth (hopefully!) and a pump to encourage Mom’s milk to come in. And it worked! Within the first week home William re-gained his birth weight, and he and Mom began to get the hang of the feeding business. A wise friend of mine encouraged us to simply focus on feeding and getting to know our baby and to forget the rest.
This has been wonderful advice as William has been a joy to get to know; he has lots of spiky hair (to his father’s delight) that goes dark blonde in the light; his eyes are a dark blue that melt your heart when he looks up at you, studying your face like he is trying to memorize your features (and maybe he is). He has the beginnings of a cute, fat belly and skinny little chicken legs and arms. His hands and feet are dainty in their tiny perfection. His face is expressive and mobile, and a real giggle to watch. As one friend commented watching him is better than watching TV!
Now that he is a little bigger he spends a few hours each day awake and looking around. He has started to like some of his little toys, especially a striped knitted bunny that enchants him with its bright colors. He loves bath time, especially the massage near the end (what’s not to love?). We’ve been out for long walks in his pousette (buggy) and for trips by Metro using the baby carrier (which he does not like as much but it takes time to apparently). Friends have been incredibly kind, helping us with meal preparation and shopping, as well as taking Will when we had terrible colds. We had a brief family visit as well from grandparents Christie, who quickly fell under the enchantment of Will.
And so the first month has passed. In a way it has gone in a slow, milky haze with lots of dazed late night feedings and contemplative moments of just looking at each other. Then again when I look at my small son’s body and realize how much he has already changed, I feel like I am watching sand through an hour glass, constantly falling never to be recaptured. It reminds me to enjoy every single moment with this tiny new person, this wee bomb that has landed in our lives. Date nights have changed to be sure, and yet we could never go back to being ‘us two’, now that we know the joys of being ‘we three’.