Here are some sleep-deprived, Percocet-laced, stream of consciousness thoughts on my first days with my third child.
Henry shares a birthday with Dr. Suess and Daniel Craig. My favorite baby-related Facebook comment this week was, "May he count Dr Seuss' wit and Daniel Craig's abs among his many blessings!" And all God's people said "Amen."
Before I had a baby, I thought that all newborns looked the same. I still think this, and I've had three babies. Henry does not look like me or Dan. He looks like Madeline did when she was a baby, which is to say he is tiny with enormous eyes that he hasn't yet figured out how to open all the way, and, because his skin is still a little big, he looks like he could be cast in Grumpy Old Men.
I mean this in the highest, most loving, glowing way. I cannot stop kissing his rumply little forehead because it is the most beautiful rumply forehead in the world. In fact, I'm leaving you for a minute to go kiss his forehead and cheeks and nose and eyelids and lips and chin and forehead again. Be right back.
Okay, moving on. Henry makes newborn noises, which is one of the most charming things about babies. He sounds like a little truffle pig snuffling around, and he looks like a new baby bird when he opens his mouth and cranes his teeny neck for food. It is why I called Madeline "Little Bird" for the first year of her life. The cuteness turns me inside out and causes me to make involuntary squealy noises.
When you have small children at home, the hospital is a like 5-star resort. There are people who cook for me, do my dishes, change my linens, and clean my room for me. I have a call button (which I imagine is like a dingly silver bell), and when I ring it nurses bring me glasses of fresh ice water and medicine. People keep asking me if I'm anxious to go home, and I cannot understand why anyone would want to leave this place.
After spending 48 hours changing itty bitty diapers on an itty bitty 6.5 lb bum, I came home. I scooped up my big kids and one of my very first thoughts was how huge Sam's butt is, by comparison. He has the butt of a child. A big, boy-butt compared to the itty bitty bum of my itty bitty baby.
I tried to keep myself very well groomed over the last couple of weeks "in case I went to the hospital." I've learned that I cannot control the swelling, the sweating, the tears, or the tired eyes - but I CAN control whether or not my legs are shaved and that I am wearing mascara that isn't from yesterday (or last week). This month my skin was moisturized and my teeth flossed with unparalleled diligence...until the day I went into labor. As Murphy's law would dictate, none of the controllable things were under control when I went to the hospital, but my feet were freshly pedicured, so I feel this allows me slack in many other areas of hygiene. (I also remembered to put on deodorant.)
I was there, too. I know all of the pictures so far are just of Henry, but I promise, I was there.
It takes a village to raise a child; it also takes a village to care for a mother who's just birthed a child. In this era, when so many of our communities and friendships have moved online, I'm thankful for the outpouring of kindness from my local friends. We are a tribe, and my tribe has cared for me. My friend, Cody, brought blueberry scones to the hospital on Sunday morning, and my friends Jacy and Dana sent homemade sea-salted caramels. Kim watched my big kids and cleaned out my fridge; Sandra did all my laundry and dishes. My friend Sara brought cookies packed in an old spinach tub, "so there were no calories in them." It takes a village.
I can't make sense of my village. I'm still so new - only 7 months in this city, which has been just enough time for a handful of coffee dates, and somehow I have this tribe. They make me want to expend myself for them in return; I want to turn myself inside out to help them and love them and be a friend to them with my hands and feet - with my kitchen and my car and my prayers.
Henry is pure. He is brand new; his skin had never touched anything before this week. He is pure and new and innocent and utterly helpless and dependent on me. A surprising thing happened to me in the hospital: as I snuggled his new skin against my warm, old, mom-skin, I started to get angry; I got angry at anyone who has ever abandoned or neglected a baby. I felt ire rising up in my chest as I thought about how anyone could allow harm to befall something so innocent and new and pure. My mama-bear fierceness for Henry blossomed into fullness as I held him on my chest. The urge to protect and defend him is as strong as anything I've ever felt. I know that I would hurl myself in front of a train or a bear or a gunman without blinking for this baby.
I might have expected to be overwhelmed by God's grace, mercy, love, kindness, or joy upon the birth of my son, but instead, I was moved by His justice. I am so glad that God is just; I'm glad that God hates injustice. I'm glad that no sin goes unpaid for, because I could never be okay with a God who would let someone off the hook for harming a baby. I'm glad that God commands us to care for widows and orphans, and I pray for more people to understand that God means this literally, and that He's serious about it. I'm glad that God is a father to the fatherless and a defender of the weak. The mama-bear in me, holding this brand new tiny human on my chest, is overwhelmingly comforted to know that God is just.
And those are all of my thoughts today. Excuse me while I go snuggle my perfect baby.