Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Savoring the Present

Our latest addition, eight days old.

In the evenings I fall asleep to the whistling breaths of a newborn, tucked safely in my closet a few feet away. The door is mostly closed to shield me from waking to his every grunt but cracked enough that I can find solace in the rhythm of his chest. The whistle of his presence follows me throughout the day: echoing in my ear as I carry him from room to room and projecting from the back seat when my toddler finds a moment of silence, an ongoing chant that disappears in the chaos of many moments of life only to return when there is quiet.

Three weeks ago our son arrived, and he is beautiful. A pound and a half bigger than our daughter, he immediately seemed large; it had taken her a few weeks to reach his size. After introducing him to our two year old however, he was immediately dwarfed. Such gentle limbs and soft skin, such tiny features: I had forgotten what a newborn felt like. And as the visitors cycled through our hospital room and the women of the church passed him around the following Sunday, they all commented on how he smelled--that captivating fragrance that is enchanting, especially to those women that have given birth. He was bathed within me for months and exited my womb carrying a smell that faded every hour he existed outside.

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Life with two children feels so different than one. As I expected, I didn't quite know what it would feel like until I arrived in the midst of it--shell-shocked by the level of chaos that descended on me in my sleep-deprived state.  A moment of quiet like the one I am in right now, where both babies sleep and I'm not immediately grasping for rest myself, is a rarity. There is so much I want to record from this time, and few moments to do so. 

Consequently I settle for glimpses:
...the memory of the constant grunting that newborns make, eliciting emotional glances (perhaps even longing?) from so many everywhere we go
...the stacks of books my daughter carries to me to read the moment I settle in to feed her brother. She has discovered I'm bound to my seat for the time being, and commandeered that feeding time to her benefit--a reading session that won't be interrupted except to burp and adjust her sibling. 
...the striking similarities in appearance between my daughter and son, while personalities thus far could not be more different. Many comment on his dark hair and complexion, a trait she shared for the first several weeks of life before shedding it for fair skin and hair that grew in blonde. Many remember my daughter's need for movement and the generous amount of crying she shared with us for months of her life. Meanwhile he enjoys being cuddled, will sit awake and not crying (a reality that still amazes me), and --for now-- sleeps very well at night. 
...his consistent napping during track practice, a reality that is undoubtedly leaving all the high schoolers with a very rosy glimpse of what having a newborn is like. 

She was different. He is different. I am different. The 23 days since his birth have been challenging at times, but such a contrast to the first 23 days of my daughter's life. It is impossible not to compare. There is something so empowering about knowing what is coming--the constant feeding, the pain of recovery, the sleep deprivation, the feel that it will all never end. 

It does end. It does get easier. It happens all so fast. 

This time I feel more free to savor, lingering in the rocking chair after he has fallen asleep, holding him selfishly while others around covet his tiny frame, leaving the dishes and laundry and cleaning for a moment that doesn't feel quite so fleeting. This time the crying doesn't bother me quite so much, the feeding schedule doesn't feel so rigid. 

A new rhythm is far from established in our chaotic little world, but every day brings us closer to this feeling a bit more normal. And so we press on. 

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